Harness Racing Stakes Season Becomes A Puzzle

Last night the Meadowlands Pace elims were held - there were only two this year - and we saw a pretty curious two races. This unbelievably fast group is being whittled away a little bit (Warrawee Needy is out, and Hurrikane Kingcole was not as his best it appears), and we are seeing the "super" taken out of the word superhorse for a few pacers.

It tends to happen each year (I've relayed it several times on the blog), unless the horse is a true superhorse. The modern trainer has the screws tightened in April, and a couple of months later the horse's do not develop quite as much as people think. Sometimes they even regress.

This prompted a tweet from a bettor:
Whether that turns out to be true or not, we'll see, but there is certainly something going on.

The jury is definitely out on Sweet Lou. Apparently he trained in 49 and change last week, so the tightener excuse is out the window on that one, but he still raced like he needed one. A lot can change in a week with the modern racehorse with a modern trainer, so count him out at your own risk. But any way you slice it, on your hands and knees off cheap fractions in 149 is not a stellar effort. He was likely 8 lengths worse last night than he was as a two year old in the Breeders Crown at cold Woodbine.

I thought A Rock n' Roll Dance was good, even though Gingras noted he did not have quite as much pop as he had last week at Pocono. Who I think is the fastest horse in the division - Hurrikane Kingcole - has a no try trip, hoping to qualify. He had too far to come to make the final, and probably was not 100%.

Horses that were considered also rans a month ago, are starting to get noticed. Simply Business raced well from off the pace, and even State Treasurer (a horse some thought 10 lengths worse than the 2012 best) is in the picture off a first up effort.

In the second elim, the antithesis of the modern trainer won her elim with Heston Blue Chip. Linda Toscano is not one to care what the teletimer says, she seems devoid of muscle flexing, and she points them to big races rather well. This was the first real test for Heston Blue Chip and he passed, leaving in 26.2, and pulling pocket to win nicely. Thinking Out Loud was really good, coming home in 26 flat, and Bolt the Duer was locked and blocked with Pace.  Pet Rock - the horse who is always there but gets few headlines - was a nice third.

Who is going to win next weeks big one? Holy moly I don't know. If we are handicapping on paper and on paper only, I surmise Heston Blue Chip, A Rock n Roll Dance and Thinking Out Loud look to be the three who had some pop yesterday. But like I said, holy moly.


Googoo Gaagaa broke twice last night in the Yonkers Trot, and Hambo potential chalk Stormin Normand looked like that last tough mile took something out of him.

Game on Dude won the Hollywood Gold Cup, but he came home about as fast as a turtle stuck in a mixture of mud and mollasses.

Conversely, Mucho Macho Man won in a fast time, and looked like he is nicely on form.

Last night's Meadowlands Pace handle was short of $2 million.

The Gold Rush card at Georgian had some good racing, with over $1m in purses given out. The handle was $254,000.

I really love Daylon Magician, and I tend to like Jackie Mo. But I wonder (maybe you are too?), why does he insist winning by 7 or 10 lengths each time he races, in a fast time? Why not say "whoa" and win by one?

I was never a huge Tetrick fan early on, because I thought he made some odd decisions, but I have been of late. He leaves something in the tank, and it's marvelous to watch. That guy would win by an inch each time if he could. He along with Linda Toscano, have a real shot with Heston Blue Chip.

Mel Mara has two wins under 1:50 this year, with Luc Ouellette and Mike Lachance, the latter grabbing the colt's lifetime mark, where he likely could've went even faster. To think, the two sub 150 dudes are considered "washed up". Take some time and look at what driver holds the lifetime mark on some of your favorite horses. It may surprise you.

Have a great Sunday everyone.


JLB said...

I think Tim Tetrick deserves special mention because Heston Blue Chip was fighting him from before the start, so eager was he to race. Even Tim mentioned this in the post-race interview, saying he was more rank than usual. I was pretty convinced that Heston would run out of gas in the stretch, given that he could not relax. It is a tribute to horse and driver that he hung on, and a lesson to all the "grandstand drivers" that these horses are not NASCAR machines.

Pull the Pocket said...

Great point that I failed to mention J!


Anonymous said...

Daylon Magician, who will take on Chapter Seven and Mister Herbie in the Maple Leaf, and Heston Blue Chip, who is second choice in the Pace, have something in common: both have lined their owner's pockets by beating up on state/province-breds. Heston has one open stakes win on his card--the Matron--while I don't believe Daylon has any. The latter has pounded the three-legged crowd in 52 and 52.1 at 1/9 in his last couple. If the pair tastes success in the Pace and the Maple Leaf it will turn some heads.

Herbie, who has been off for several weeks, went a very fast qualifier, but the lack of an elimination round hurts him.

It's refreshing to see three four-year-olds leading the charge in the Maple Leaf. Lucky Jim, Buck I and company may finally have been replaced.


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