Shark Gesture showed it was the best of times at Tioga Downs with an exciting victory in the $228,000 Bettor's Delight defeating a fast closing Hypnotic Blue Chip in 1:48.3. Won The West, who decided to hook up and challenge the eventual winner, finished a strong third passed by a horse that managed to close fast after getting a good trip rather than tiring in the stretch.
On the other end of the spectrum, it was the worst of times at Chester Downs with Auckland Reactor finishing dead last (seventh) after attempting to wire the field in a winners over event. Granted he was only four lengths off the winner at the end of a 1:51.1 mile by longshot Lindy's Bandit ($91), but even with setting fractions of :26.3, :55.1, and 1:23, you can't be coming home in :29 and expect to be a factor in any race. Granted the first quarter was a tough :26.3 as he was pressed by Jim's Guy and the track was off (listed good), but make no mistake about it; this was a step backwards for the New Zealand pacing wonder.
Yes, the track was off and it was hot and humid, but this is weather in the Northeast part of the United States in the summer and it is only going to get worse as the summer goes on. Unless things change dramatically, it is beginning to look like there is no way the Reactor will be able to compete in our FFA ranks.
While the Reactor has won at the mile distance, most of his racing has been done at longer distances. What I would like to see is a racing secretary card a distance race or two to see how North American horses perform when racing against the Reactor at a distance he is more familiar with. Then we would see if it is the mile distance is the Reactor's problem or if it is a case where he just can't compete against better North American stock.
My last blog entry discussed how this appears to be a year where the three year old pacers lack a superstar. PullthePocket evaluates the top three year olds as we head towards the North American Cup. He concurs this year lacks a superstar.
In other news, it appears the classified racing experiment has come to an end at Tioga Downs as this week's condition sheet features races written using conditions instead of class. My suspicion is more than trainers complaining, it was becoming too hard to ship horses in from the various tracks feeding Tioga's entry box plus the fact payoffs have not gotten any better, which was the reason for implementing classified racing.
There is a story in the New York Times blog regarding the comeback attempt being made by Alan Charles. Make sure to watch the video attached to the story. Whether he makes it back to become a full time driver or not, you got to appreciate this drive.