Breeders Crown 2009 is in the books. The races pretty much went according to form as it was one of the few Breeders Crown nights where there were no shockers. Brian Sears was the driving star of the night winning three of the eight events. With the curtain coming down on the Breeders Crown, we say good bye to a champion and based on the 2yo trotting and pacing colt and gelding races, it looks like next year’s glamour divisions will be wide open.
In the Breeders Crown final for 3yo fillies, Yellow Diamond held off my upset selection Ginger And Fred (costing me a nice daily double) to win in 1:51.2. Ginger And Fred was used several times in the race and quite honestly, surprised me with her last minute challenge to the eventual winner. Shanghai Lil finished third and Shacked Up was a disappointing fourth.
In typical Muscle Hill fashion, the 3yo trotting colt and gelding race was a walk in the park for Muscle Hill, the undisputed king of trotting. Muscle Hill stayed back in the early part of the race and slowly worked his way to the front down the backstretch. He trotted to the 3/4s in 1:24.1 and walked home in a final quarter of :30 to win in 1:54.1. Triumphant Caviar was a non-threatening second with Neighsay Hanover and Striking Lindsey being placed third and fourth respectively after Swan For All, who broke at the top of the stretch and finished third, was disqualified for receiving an unfair advantage racing inside the pylons after the break. While it may not have been a ‘spectacular’ ending to Muscle Hill’s career (none of his races were open length victories), make no mistake about it; Muscle Hill is a freak of nature. It is a shame we will not be able to see him race as an older horse; perhaps one day it will be more lucrative to keep our stars racing instead of watching them head off to the breeding shed.
The 2yo trotting filly race went to Poof Shes Gone in 1:56.3. The winner was able to race outside with cover past the half before she made a move to the front. The best way to describe the victory was business like, nothing spectacular about her victory. Ultimate Cameron finished second with Tequila Slammer and Costa Rica completing the exotics. I got burnt violating one of my own rules regarding playing a horse that broke in their previous start by playing Fashion Feline who promptly reminded me why I had that rule in the first place as she broke once she tried following the race winner. Fans who wagered on Action Broadway were luckier than I as they had their wagers refunded thanks to the fair start rule as Action Broadway was more than 200 feet back when the race began.
One thing for certain after the Crown for 2yo trotting colts and geldings; next year is not going to be the year of a dominate 3yo trotter. Pilgrims Taj raced patiently and tracked down the leaders to win the final in 1:57.1, defeating Lucky Chucky and Magic Fruit who were close behind at the wire. The difference in this race was the trip. Holiday Road may be the early favorite for the Hambletonian but after his disappointing start at The Red Mile and the emergence of horses like Pilgrims Taj and Lucky Chucky, this crop looks pretty even.
Fancy Filly took the pocket trip to win the 2yo filly pace in 1:53.4, taking advantage of the tough trip Put On A Show had. Put On A Show brushed three wide to take the lead at the half and then went a :27.3 third quarter which no doubt cooked her. To her credit, Put On A Show held strong to finish second with Ticket To Rock picking up the third spot. The big disappointment in this race came from Higher And Higher who never really got into the race and finished last.
The Breeders Crown for 3yo fillies was the race I looked forward to the most as I felt all along that this division was the most competitive one this year and the race lived up to its billing. Hambo Oaks winner Broadway Schooner came flying late to win the Breeders Crown in a 1:57 blanket finish edging out Elusive Desire and Seaside. Margarita Momma was somewhat disappointing finishing fourth.
All Speed Hanover and Sportswriter dueled down the whole stretch with All Speed Hanover nosing out the previously undefeated Sportswriter to win the 2yo colt and gelding pace in a snappy 1:52. Yes, Sportswriter was caught up in severe duel with 99-1 OK Commander (who actually did get his nose in front of Sportswriter briefly) which no doubt cost him the race but give credit to All Speed Hanover who went three wide towards the three quarters to get in the race. Kyle Major finished third. Clearly this was the most exciting race of the evening.
The ‘big’ upset of the night came in the finale, the Breeders Crown for 3yo pacing colts and geldings; as If I Can Dream scored the victory with a 1:51 mile. After getting the lead past the quarter pole, he was able to control the mile the rest of the way. Mr Wiggles took second with Vertical Horizon finishing third; Bay of Sharks was fourth. While the race was not an upset odds-wise, the shocking part of the race was how bad Well Said raced. While Well Said did not have a good trip, he was never heard from at all; I would not be surprised if it turns out he was sick. Vintage Master also threw in a clunker.
On the Breeders Crown undercard, Bigtime Ball was introduced to the American audience taking in the Breeders Crown races by winning the $100,000 Gold Cup Invitational wire to wire in 1:50.3 defeating Art Official and Shark Gesture. This was Bigtime Ball's third straight victory and his fifth out of his last six starts. He has stamped himself as a legitimate FFA pacer with his victory.
For those following Mister Big and his quest for the all-time earnings record for pacers, his next start will be Monday evening in the $322,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial at Harrington Raceway where he hooks up against Won the West and Foiled Again.