Last year a snow event in late October grounded Tim Tetrick, Yanick Gingras, David Miller and George Brennan in New Jersey on Breeders Crown day, leading to an embarrassing flurry of driver changes. The storm was not a surprise and Tetrick and Gingras had driven at Vernon the previous night, but chose to return to New Jersey despite the nasty forecast. The folks at Woodbine acted as if it was nothing out of the ordinary, and that approach generated much in the way of comment and consternation.
We had another bizarre BC situation on Saturday as Jim Morrill was apparently turned away at the border because he didn’t have a work visa. Since numerous Canadian and American drivers cross the border for work on a daily basis, this appears to be a case of an overly officious border agent making a big mistake. Regardless, Morrill, who had driven in five races at Woodbine on Friday night, was a late scratch on Archangel, Beatgoeson Hanover, Hillbilly Hanover, Foreclosure and Classic Rock NRoll. Beatgoeson and Foreclosure both won.
Morrill returned in July of last year from a 270-day suspension for refusing to take a breathalyzer which was handed down by the Kentucky Racing Commission. Since then he has been far and away the top driver in the NYSS, and he currently ranks tenth overall in earnings for 2012.
As one might expect, speculation was rampant over what caused Morrill to miss his drives on this very important night, but it seems that nothing was said or written to dampen the fire of speculation. Can you imagine this happening in another sport? If there was a legitimate reason for Morrill missing his drives, whacky as it may be, let us know. Is there actually some other reason? If so, what is it?
Now that the BC eliminations are completed, is leadership on the division level any clearer? Has a HOY candidate separated from the pack?
Can Romantic Moment overtake her stablemate, American Jewel, in the three-year-old pacing filly division?
Rather than having the two fillies fight each other for NYSS money all season, Takter has pretty much kept Jewel on the GC, while allowing Romantic Moment to handle the SS races. Jewel has won the Fan Hanover, Lynch, Simcoe and Bluegrass, as well as eliminations for the Fan, Lynch and BC. She won the Fan in a WR :48.2 at Mohawk, and set a :49.2 record for a three-year-old filly on a 5/8 track when she won the Lynch at Pocono.
Romantic Moment hasn’t gone quite that fast; she sports a mark of :50.1. Both fillies have earned roughly the same amount of money, with Jewel about $35,000 ahead in that department.
Romantic Moment won the Valley Forge, the Garnsey and the NYSS Final. Six of her ten wins were in the NYSS. She finished second in the Bluegrass and fourth in the Fan Hanover. Her accomplishments in the open sphere don’t match Jewel’s but she’s been the hotter filly over the last half of the season: she’s won 8 of her last 10 starts, while Jewel has won 4 of her last 10.
A win over Jewel in the BC would certainly put Romantic Moment on equal footing with her more celebrated paternal sister. Both are eligible to the Matron, and Romantic Moment is also staked to the Lady Maud, while Jewel is staked to the American National.
Can Little Brown Fox catch Market Share?
When you focus on earnings, at first glance this seems like a hopeless task. LBF has won seven times and has 2012 earnings of $782,000, while Market Share has eight wins and has earned more than $1.7 million. The latter won the right races: the Hambletonion and the $1 million Canadian Trotting Classic. In addition to those two races, he won the Zweig. He lost in the Dexter; finished third in the NJSS final; finished out in the Goodtimes; was beaten soundly by Goo in the Colonial; and was beaten by upstart, Intimidate, in his BC elimination. The money is more dominant than the record. Market Share was also taken to task when his connections chose not to supplement to the Ky Futurity, and to race instead in a $10,000 late closer.
Little Brown Fox won the Stanley Dancer, Simcoe and Ackerman. He won his CTC elimination, but finished second in the final. He was second in his Ky Futurity elimination and fourth in the final. He won his BC elimination. Gingras and Takter get to choose their post for the BC final, while Market Share is at the mercy of the draw. A win would boost LBF’s earnings over the million dollar mark, but overcoming that Market Share Hambletonion win, especially when LBF broke stride and eliminated himself in the prelim, will be no easy task.
Little Brown Fox and Goo are both eligible to the Matron, while Market Share is not. The buy in is modest, but his connections may not want to go out of their way to face Goo again. LBF, on the other hand, will have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
Who is going to be the champion Aged Pacing Mare?
This one really does come down to the BC. Rocklamation was good early, winning several legs and the final of the Matchmaker. She also won the Milton and the Pride In Progress. Her name isn’t generally mentioned as a possible division winner, but she has earned about $650,000, almost $300,000 more than Rebeka Bayama, who is the hot mare in that division right now, and $300,000 more than Drop The Ball, another sharp mare. POAS is $200,000 back of Rocklamation and $65,000 back of Anndrovette.
Rebeka won the Golden Girls and a half-dozen opens. Even with a win in the BC, it would be tough to crown her.
POAS, who will race in the Open, has eleven wins, including the Lady Liberty and Spring Of Hope. She is also the world record holder. If she beats the boys, the division is hers. What about a solid board finish?
Drop The Ball, who drew the eleven post in the final, won the Allerage Mare. She qualified at Harrah’s a day or two ago.
Anndrovette won the Roses Are Red in WR time, but she seems to have tailed off lately, and has only won twice in her last eleven starts.
What about the three-year-old colt pacers?
A Rocknroll Dance has been a major contender all year, but failing to qualify for the BC final is a major blow to his chances. He took on the best of the division week after week, and won the Pace, Hempt and Battle Of Brandywine. However, he’s now lost seven in a row, including the Cane, Simcoe, Jug, Bluegrass, Tattersalls and BC elimination. No.
Bolt The Duer, winner of the Adios, Simpson and KYSS final, is through for the year. No.
Michaels Power is the earnings leader, thanks to his success in the ONSS program, and he also won the Jug, the Confederation Cup and a division of the SBSW, but he skipped Lexington, then finished second behind Mel Mara in an ONSS Gold Final, and was fourth in his BC elimination. The last two starts haven’t helped, but a win in the BC final would certainly put him in contention. Although it is important to remember that Michaels Power did not race in the final of the NA Cup, the Pace, Hempt, Adios, Cane or Battle of Brandywine, in addition to skipping The GC meet at The Red Mile. His would be an unusual route to a division championship.
Sweet Lou won eliminations of the NA Cup, Pace, Adios and Jug. He finally got that elusive open stakes win in the Tattersalls a couple of weeks ago. With Dance and Duer falling on hard times, and Michaels Power exhibiting vulnerability of late, Lou is in the running.
Heston Blue Chip, an impressive winner of his BC elimination the other night, is an intriguing candidate. He spent most of the season beating up on the NYSS set, but he has been more than competitive when placed in open company. He won his Pace elimination and his Cane elimination. If he wins the BC it will be his first open stakes win of 2012. He’s eligible to the Matron. They took the safe SS road with HBC all season, and this is reflected in his smaller earnings figure and lack of open wins. Colts like HBC and Panther Hanover are interesting but a BC win might be too little, too late.
Thinking Out Loud has earned more than $1 million this year. He won the NA Cup and the Bluegrass. He’s got two wins in his last ten starts. The BC and The Cup make for impressive seasonal bookends, but there isn’t enough in between..
Will Foiled win the Aged Pacing division again?
Cheddar won the Franklin, Des Smith and Quillen before ending his season prematurely. He lost the Mohawk Gold Cup and the Canadian Pacing Derby. Two major losses on his home turf. A BC win would have given him the division, but at this point that probably won’t be enough. The sharpest horse is Bettor Sweet, who only has two wins. He can’t win it all, but may spoil it for Foiled or Golden Receiver.
The latter has the most impressive record, with wins in the Haughton, USPC, Presidential, Graduate and the Spring Pacing Championship at Woodbine. On the other hand, Foiled won the Canadian Pacing Derby, the Molson and three legs of the Levy. Also in his favor is the fact that he broke Gallo’s earnings mark this year. If either Foiled or Golden Receiver wins the BC, they win the division. If some other horse wins, it’s still up in the air.
Captaintreacherous, Check Me Out and Chapter Seven seem to be the strongest contenders for HOY honors. If two of the three lose on Saturday, the other one will probably be voted HOY.