Monday night at Mohawk. Not exactly a night of racing which typically gathers much attention, but this Monday, the card at Mohawk features the Simcoe 3yo Filly Trot. A pretty strong field will be competing with the inclusion of Costa Rica, Poof Shes Gone, Bramalea Hanover, Random Destiny, and Christiana Hanover. Wait, how can I include Random Destiny and Christiana Hanover in the same breath as the other three? Because they are trained by Riina Rekila who is leading the Finnish Invasion of North America.
Unlike the Swedish Invasion which was led by Hakan Wallner, Berndt Lindstedt, Jan Johnson, Per Henrikson, and Jimmy Takter, the Finnish Invasion is an invasion of one, led by Finnish veterinarian, trainer, and driver, Riina Rekila. Racing in North America since 2007, Rekila has already been noticed in Canada with her defeat of Poof Shes Gone by her filly Random Destiny and other victories. Up to now she has not been fully noticed in the United States with limited drives, but people at the Red Mile got to know her quickly when she won the Moni Maker a little over two weeks ago at 52-1. Just in case anyone thinks she defeated a bunch of second-tier drivers in the Moni Maker, she competed against Dube, Magee, Pierce, Sears, Ritchie, Tetrick, and Wrenn.
So how good is Rekila? So far this year, Riina has a UTR of .405 with eighteen wins out of sixty-two starts and as a driver, she has a UDR of .440 with seventeen wins out of fifty-two starts. Granted, she only trains and drives her own horses, but even so, it would be a mistake to dismiss her performance due to a limited number of starters. Not only is she a very good trainer, as a driver she knows how to get her horses into contention as shown in the recent Moni Maker. It will be interesting to see how Rekila does if she eventually opens a public stable. In the meanwhile, gamblers who automatically dismiss her horses do it at their own peril.
Which brings us to Monday evening's Simcoe for 3yo filly trotters at Mohawk. Rekila has two horses in the race, the previously mentioned Random Destiny and Christiana Hanover. Since two of her horses are in the Simcoe, Rekila will drive Random Destiny and turn over the driving assignment on Christiana Hanover to Luc Ouellette. With a field of twelve horses in the Simcoe (same as the Moni Maker), traffic may be a factor in the race. Will the Finnish connection pay off this week? Who knows, but you can't count Rekila's charges out.
Here is my analysis of the Simcoe:
Mohawk, Monday, September 6
7th Trot -$239,786; Simcoe Stakes- 3yo Fillies
1 - Highland Strikes (Baillargeon, 10-1) - Has not been able to sustain his drives of late. Pass.
2 - Wilsonator (Filion, 10-1) - Seems to be improving of late. May land share.
3 - Costa Rica (Pierce, 5-1) - Coming off two victories at Fhld against state-breds. Has been disappointing this year versus open company.
4 - Woke Up Dreaming (Macdonell, 20-1) - Expecting a more aggressive drive this week, but meeting better.
5 - No Magic To It (Ritchie, 10-1) - Will need to get to the rail early to be a factor.
6 - Ipromisenottotell (Hudon, 20-1) - Seems to be better suited to the smaller ovals. Tough spot.
7 - Poof Shes Gone (Miller, 5-2) - First time Lasix, which may explain break in last. May want to avoid if under 2-1.
8 - Random Destiny (Rekila, 10-1) - Has uncorked some good last quarters. A threat if clear in the stretch with fast fractions.
9 - Bramlea Hanover (Condren, 7-1) - A legitimate threat with a trip despite post.
10 - Cross Of Lorraine (Macdonald, 3-1) - The hot horse with five wins out of last six starts. However, recent wins have been from inside posts.
11 - Christiana Hanover (Ouellette, 10-1) - Should be able to get a decent position despite second tier. A threat with super fast fractions up front.
12 - Tequila Slammer (Oliver, 25-1) - Has been off form and the traffic should finish her off early.
With the overflow field, I will be looking to beat the favorite. Poof Shes Gone had a nice qualfier after her break in the Hambo Oaks. Even if her break in the Hambo Oaks is due to bleeding, she has shown a recent propensity of not being able to close the deal when the big money is on the line. At 5-2, I will let her beat me. As for the other favorite, Cross Of Lorraine, she has been on a tear but draws the far outside in a twelve horse field. While it is likely she will try to leave, there is enough speed inside to make it tougher and with the potential for traffic, I am willing to take a chance on her beating me from the outside. The Am-Nat that Bramalea Hanover was in had a pretty deep field and he managed to get a trip to take fourth. The start before at Lexington in the Moni Maker, it is true he finished third but considering the fractions, was the only horse up front that didn't collapse totally in the race; he may be worth the bet. For exotics, I expect to be using Rekila's horses with Bramalea Hanover.
Cane Pace Update: In a recent post I suggested there was a chance BG's Folly may have scratched out due to a bad post. I also indicated it may have been coincidence. Since then, one of the connections reported his blood work came back borderline and they thought it would be best to scratch out. Since we attempt to be fair in this blog, an update is merited