For one evening; specifically an hour and a half, harness racing ruled supreme on TVG. That's right; during this period the North America Cup took center stage with TVG picking up The Score's feed to cover the NA Cup. For once, it was thoroughbred racing which played second fiddle with periodic breaks in the feed from Canada to play catch-up with thoroughbred races instead of the other way around. Granted Hollywood Park's card was already completed and the live thoroughbred action was restricted to Evangeline and Emerald Downs, but for a channel which has continuosly featured $2,500 thoroughbred claiming races ahead of harness racing, it was a welcome change to see the shoe on the other foot. For one evening quality won out. Hopefully this will continue in the future.
Dan Patch Invitational
Shark Gesture is the king of pacing after his coronation last night in dominating the Dan Patch Invitational with a track record 1:48.1, defeating runner up Won The West by ten plus lengths at Hoosier Park. How effortless was it? Shark Gesture led at all points of call with fractions of :25.2, :53.1, and 1:20.3 with Won The West following along, never able to put any type of challenge together.
So commanding was Shark Gesture's victory that barring any type of injury, it appears the FFA division will be at the mercy of Shark Gesture all season long.
North America Cup - 3yo pacing colts
The most anticipated North America Cup in several years never happened as Sportswriter reasserted himself, at least for one evening, as the top pacing three year old in North America with his win in the Pepsi North America Cup last night at Mohawk Racetrack.
In doing so, Sportswriter denied me a nice payday. Yes, I liked Rock N Roll Heaven but when I saw the odds of 30-1 on We Will See, I had to give him a play. Yes, I know he was an upset winner the week before in his elimination of the NA Cup racing in the weakest of three divisions, but a winner was he. While he may not have defeated the monsters of the division last week, you couldn't take away the fact he won last week. When you see an elimination winner at 30-1, you have to play it.
Like last week, We Will See rode the rail and he rode it well last night. Despite getting pushed back to sixth as they approached the stretch, Brett Miller was patiend and when the rail opened up he came flying to explode down the stretch to collar Sportswriter. I was hoping Mark McDonald would have been caught by surprise by We Will See last minute burst, but to his credit, McDonald got Sportswriter to give one last burst of speed to regain the lead and open up a one length victory to win in 1:48.3. That is what champions do, when caught in the stretch, they find another gear to triumph.
Kyle Major came up empty in the race and as for my pre-race favorite, Rock N Roll Heaven and All Speed Hanover? They encountered traffic problems and were never a factor in the race. Don't let their traffic problems diminish Sportswriter's victory. It was a brillant performance. As good as Sportswriter was, the picture for the galmour division continues to look murky with no clear standout this year. This should make for an exciting stakes season.
Goodtimes Trot - 3yo trotting colts and geldingsSing Jesse Sing started of a the stakes action with a victory in the Goodtimes Trot in 1:53.3. SJS brushed up the backstretch to engage Text Me in a duel around the long Mohawk turn and was finally able to shake Text Me in the stretch but he had to hold off a last minute drive by Priority Photo.
Fan Hanover - 3yo pacing fillies
The MacDonald-Coleman team not only won the North America Cup, they were victorious in the Fan Hanover pulling of a major upset with Sing Jesse Sing who defeated division leading Put On A Show and Fancy Filly by wiring the field in a speedy 1:50.1. Put On A Show was very impressive in defeat to fall only a neck short coming home in a :25.3 final quarter. Unlike the colts and geldings, I expect Put On A Show to reassert her claim as the queen of pacing this year.
Elegantimage Stakes - 3yo trotting fillies
Ultimate Cameron equaled the stakes record of 1:53.3 driven Trevor Ritchie. In her victory, Ultimate Cameron defeated division leading Poof Shes Gone. It was a masterful drive by Ritchie who was able to slow the fractions down considerably, leaving her plenty in the tank at the end of the mile to hold off Emmylou Who. Poof Shes Gone really had no chance, being parked out half the mile in relatively slow fractions; perhaps a more aggressive drive would have changed the results.
Meanwhile, at the Meadowlands, the Metro Six Shooter had an impressive pool despite all the racing action occuring elsewhere. Over $70,000 was wagered into the pool last night which considering the defection of the top horses and drivers, is pretty impressive being there was no carry over from the preceeding week.