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Monday, February 11, 2013

Extending the FFA Season

Frequent VFTRG contributor Joe F. takes a look at the new Meadowlands FFA Championship races and how it extends the season for FFAllers.


The two new Meadowlands FFA Championship races which will take place on Saturday November 30 should stretch the season on both ends. Last year the Cutler Prep took place on May 4 and drew an ordinary field. The Cutler itself, which was staged a week later, was won by Mister Herbie. Chapter Seven didn’t kick off his season until six weeks later in the Titan Cup Prep. That sort of thing should be less likely to happen now that the Cutler, which is scheduled for May 18, is a source of points for the 500K year-end Championship.
Chapter Seven called it a career on November 10, after competing in the American-National at Balmoral. This year a horse of his caliber would certainly be hanging on for another three weeks to compete in the FFA Championship.

Last season’s Titan Cup, which had a seven horse field after two scratches, did feature Chapter Seven, who won easily at 1/5, but there was no Herbie. (He was off for several weeks after the Earl Rowe.) This race, which has been held at the Meadowlands since 1979, and  carried a 202K purse in addition to the 40K Prep last year, seems to have disappeared from the schedule. In 2012 it took place on June 29, but it has apparently been replaced by a 50K Meadowlands FFA Championship Trot on June 21.
The Allerage Open, which drew six starters in 2012, will also benefit from being a point source for the FFA Championship.

On the pacing side of the equation, Casie Coleman chose to pass on the US Pacing Championship and the William Haughton with Betterthancheddar last year. With the talent pool being so thin at the top of that division, Cheddar’s absence reduced those two stakes to a pair of wire jobs by Golden Receiver. About that time Cheddar toyed with an open field at Mohawk, winning easily at 2/5. We’re less likely to see that sort of thing happen this year.
Last year we had the Indiana Pacing Derby the week after the BC and the American–National, along with the Forest City for the mares, the following week. As is the case with the trotters, there is a now a very good reason to stick around for an extra month.

The added bonus, of course, is the prospect of seeing a Captaintreacherous or Wheeling N Dealin take on the best older horses at the end of the year, just like they used to do at Hollywood Park. And even if the top ranked colts pass on the opportunity, we get to see their connections squirm out of it.