Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Breeders Crown Wrap Up

The Breeders’ Crown is never uninteresting. This year was no exception.

We had driver choices, where the top driver in North America booked off a horse who just might be Horse of the Year. We had a fellow (you’d know him, he has a moustache and has won a lot of races) who has not gotten as many stakes drives as we usually see him get, taking a few of the younger boys to school and winning two Crowns. We had a form reversal, where the most hyped trotting colt of 2014, looked more like his old self than he had looked the past few months. Meanwhile, his nemesis was the one who came up flat. We had a Euro win the Crown Open Trot, and his name was not the usual Euro trotter we think of, but Commander Crowe. He was 11 years old.

We saw a horse named after a character in an AMC show who was supposedly not very good; so not good he might’ve been entered in Harrisburg. He won his Crown at even money. We saw a scratch of a Jug Champ early in the day and in the same race, the fastest horse we’ve seen at three in some time, be a scratch at post time.

Like I said, it’s never uninteresting. Unlike past Crowns where things seemed to be settled immediately after the big night, I really don’t know how much was.

Who is the Three Year Old Trotter of the year? Do we make it Father Patrick for winning the Crown, or does Nuncio’s performance since Hambletonian Day trump that. I really don’t know. All I do know is that EL Titan was probably the best trotter tonight – he was hung in no horse land with a brutal trip and put a scare into the winner, with a cheap middle half – and Nuncio has been the best trotter for awhile. Before him, well, let’s not forget about Trixton. It’s a shame we never saw each of them at their very best, by the way. I love all three.

JK She’salady slammed the door, if we can call slamming a door that was already pretty much shut, slamming, for her division. Is she Horse of the Year? I really don’t know. We’ve always wondered what her bottom was and it was kind of her mystique, but you found out tonight. Tetrick went to the well pretty hard. The bottom was 50 and change. We don’t give this award to two year old fillies unless they do something crazy good and generational do we?

As for the two year old pacing colts, we saw an excellent race, but it didn’t really settle much did it? Artspeak wasn’t there, and the “new” divisional leader (In the Arsenal) lost after getting a pretty nice trip after the three wide flashing of the swords that occurred near the half.

The Three Year Old Colt pacing trophy is as muddled as it ever was. Mcwicked won, almost not holding off a 40-1 shot. JK Endofanera looked a little lost out there tonight and Always B Miki joined the Jug Champ on the bench (since then, out with a surgery for a P1).

How about what I think is the most talented trotter to set foot on North American soil since possibly Varenne, Sebastian K? Well, he wasn’t there because he is prepping for the TVG, so we hear. If he wins that race lights out, is he not the Horse of the Year?

The Breeders’ Crown Saturday was entertaining, not even remotely dull, and once again reminded us all why we love this event; especially when it’s at the Meadowlands. But did it all come down to the Breeders’ Crown? I don’t think so; not this year. We have a little ways to go to compile our final tallies.


 -Darin Zocalli was happy with the handle: “The two night format was a proven success producing a combined handle of over $7 Million. Both Pick 4 pools on Saturday were over $100,000. We couldn't be happier with how these races were received by the betting public.” He noted via email. I agree. That’s a pretty good number and the races on Saturday were compelling. In addition, the undercard was quite good, spawning some decent pools, along with a fairly well bet Pick 5. It’s important for this event to be bet, because it’s how the sport is showcased, and how well it is bet is the way we keep score.

 -I postulated last week that I would like to see the Trot Crown races raced in the morning, to export the signal overseas. One of the reasons for that was because of the chalk we see in the Trot races; overseas won’t care as much as North America does when it comes to these payouts. We saw a little of that again on Friday. The first three races were 5-2, 2-5 and 1-9 and they were the trots. Filling up a pick 4 with those prices is generally not what the sport wants to promote. As well, the Open Trot was carded on Saturday very late – like 4 in the morning in Sweden late. That’s something to think about, should this ever be exported in earnest.

 -I believe that the industry has to get together and set a plan in motion to get Breeders’ Crown handle up to $6 million for the assorted races. Getting people together, on the same page, rowing the boat to a destination, is important for any business.

 -I was sorry to see Gallie bythebeach scratched Friday. She was scratched for last year’s Crown final, too. She’s a really nice filly. I feel for the owners of Limelight Beach and Always B Miki as well. How disappointing for them. As a horse owner I know how hard everyone works to get a horse to the races, and to have them not make it on such a big night is downright sad.

-Entertainment value of Saturday versus Friday? It was off the charts. The fractions were big, the racing was tough; a middle half of 53 in the Open pace, and a huge battle in the Open mares, for example. That was electric.

 This was originally posted at Harness Racing Update.

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