Saturday night the eliminations for the Canadian Trotting Classic were held at Mohawk Racetrack. In the first elimination, 1-9 favorite Muscle Hill won easily in 1:53.3. While Muscle Hill may not have been challenged through out the entire race, at least Photoforwin attempted to put a little sting in Muscle Hill by parking him to the quarter in :27.3. In the second division, Southern Rocketop easily won his elimination in 1:53.4. Explosive Matter, the horse I expected to give Muscle Hill a little competition in the final, finished a tired fourth which considering it was his first start in a month, was not a shocker. Since the Canadian Trotting Classic is another race where the winner is rewarded with their choice of post position in the final, even if Explosive Matter is up to the challenge, the race should be just another walkover for Muscle Hill.
The question needs to be asked, if all these stake races were open draws, would Muscle Hill be undefeated this year? While I am sure the owners are happy to cash those purse checks (as would I), we will never know how great Muscle Hill really is because of these conditions which give the heat winners an unfair advantage over the rest of the field.
Well Said, another 1-9 favorite, won his division of the Simcoe Stakes, in a deceptively easy 1:50.2 mile. I say deceptively, because he won by a nose. According to driver Ron Pierce, he said the instructions given to him were to do what it takes to win, nothing more. A five inch win is cutting it a little close; I suspect trainer Steve Elliot after the race said something like, "When I said, just enough, I didn't quite mean that."
Ron Pierce may have made life a little uncomfortable for the Well Said camp with his post-race comments regarding the Little Brown Jug. After the race, he indicated that the race set Well Said up nicely for the Jug. When asked about the possibility of Well Said skipping the Jug, Pierce indicated he didn't see why Well Said should be skipping the Jug; he didn't think the half mile oval would be a problem nor did he see a problem with going two heats. Earlier this week, assistant trainer Toni Rose led people to think Well Said might not be heading for the Jug due to the multiple heat set up. One has to think that Pierce had heard about Rose's comments. My guess is Pierce's comments were not unintentional, he wants that ride on Well Said on the famed Delaware County Fairground's oval. I expect any intrigue Pierce's comments may have caused will come to and end early this week; hopefully in favor of a trip to Delaware, Ohio.
They race standardbreds in North Dakota, don't they?
This weekend they had a two day standardbred race meet (just five days after the conclusion of their thoroughbred/quarterhorse meet) at the North Dakota Horse Park. During yesterday's fourth race, a $2,200 'stake' race for three year old North Dakota Bred pacers, the demolition derby showed up as there was a malfunction of the starting gate and the car crashed. Fortunately, no one got hurt and the race continued. The winner? Race favorite Peekaboo K who won in a blistering 2:07.3 and paid $4.80 to win. For a recap of the race, and the starting car crash, the video is provided (the quality is not the best).
When you consider there are only ten days of thoroughbreds and/or quarterhorses racing at Fargo, a two day harness meet is nothing to be ashamed of. You may ask how do you put together a two day harness meet in North Dakota; apparently it is not easy. It turns out that Peekaboo K who won the 4th race for ND Breds came back to finish fifth in the eight race for a condition pace for Minnesota Owned and Sired horses (yes, in North Dakota) later that day. Finn Jet raced in the Open Handicap on Saturday and was scheduled to return to race on Sunday in another Open Handicap. One thing for sure, they are determined in North Dakota.
While the North Dakota bred may not put fear into the heart of horsemen back East, it was interesting to note that in a state with a two day race meet, at least they have a fair start rule. Perhaps the folks back east should take note after all. At least the racing commission in North Dakota protects their fans.