JK She’salady and Mission Brief turned heads in 2014. Will one or both prove to be an all-time great? Will the former win HOY honors again? Will Mission Brief win the Hambletonian and outshine her pacing counterpart?
Will the surgical repair of a fractured pastern that followed Always B Miki’s late scratch from the Breeders Crown be successful? David Miller chose the Always A Virgin colt over eventual division winner McWicked in that race. Will Miller be proven correct if he stays with Miki as the pair, along with JK Endofanera, All Bets Off and Limelight Beach move into the aged ranks?
What about He’s Watching? In contrast to his undefeated freshman campaign in the NYSS, he won five of 13 starts at three, accomplishing little during the second half of the season. Will David Menary get him back to the record breaking speed delivered in the Meadowlands Pace? Sweet Lou has been retired and Foiled is now eleven years old. There should be ample opportunities for the four year old group to step up. Last year they fell on their faces.
Will Nuncio turn the tables on stablemate Father Patrick and dominate the four year old set? There was quite a drop off after the big three in the sophomore colt division during 2014. Trixton has been retired while Patrick and E L Titan are doing double duty this year and will probably miss the early season Graduate Series for four year olds at the Meadowlands as well as the Hambletonian Maturity? Things seem to be setting up nicely for Nuncio; it would be a shame to see him head for Europe and miss those early season opportunities.
Last year most expected Bee A Magician to challenge Maven for division leadership, however, Classic Martine outdid the pair with wins in the Armbro Flight, Miss Versatility and Ima Lula. Where will Shake It Cerry slot into this group? Herb Liverman, who purchased Maven for $750,000, doesn’t want to race her against his other mare, BAM. Aside from Maven remaining in Europe, I don’t see how the two mares can avoid each other. Opportunities for aged trotting mares are scarce. Will her early season European campaign set Maven back again this year? Is Cerry better than BAM? Will Lifetime Pursuit and Designed To Be turn into players?
What’s going to happen with Breeders Crown winner Traceur Hanover? Jeff Gural has banned owner Richard Berthiaume from his tracks for not disavowing Corey Johnson earlier. Traceur is staked to the Meadowlands Pace, and if precedent prevails he will be allowed to race. The same would hold true for the Cane Pace, which has been moved to the Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day. Corey Johnson won’t be present this year but Traceur will serve as an embarrassing reminder of Cobalt Crown on the two premier days of racing at the Meadowlands. Artspeak and In The Arsenal are expected to dominate that division, but Traceur may serve as a season long embarrassment, or much worse, the champ.
The sophomore filly pacers were a less than impressive group in 2014. In the past we’ve expected the likes of Peelers and Jewel to step up and dominate their elders, but it didn’t happen. Watch, some of the 2014 softies will morph into Amazons. Last year it was Somwherovrarainbow and Shebestingin who failed to take the crown from the co-winners of the Dan Patch, Rocklamation and Anndrovette. Will the likes of Color’s a Virgin, Sayitall BB and Precocious Beauty get it done?
Will Pinkman, Habitat, Uncle Lasse, Billy Flynn, Muscle Diamond and other now sophomore trotters assert themselves, or will they be overshadowed by Mission Brief, Wild Honey, Jolene Jolene and the other fillies?
Will we get early season record breaking Sebastian or second half, not so good, Sebastian? Are the connections of TVG winner Intimidate going to toss him into the FFA mix from the get go, or dick around with him for much of the season as has been their custom? Will Allerage and American National winner Creatine build on that and become a full time member of the FFA set? What about Natural Herbie? Along the same lines as the Intimidate inquiry, will Verlin Yoder hang around Hoosier Park with Herbie, occasionally joining the FFA fray, or will he join the club full time? Will all those therapy sessions pay off for Master Of Law? Does he finally have his head screwed on straight? Lots of questions in this division.