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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Some Division Races Still in Play

While the Breeders Crown races have been contested, some division races remain in play.  Frequent VFTRG contributor Joe F. takes a look at the division races: 
Last year five BC winners went on to be division leaders at season’s end: CMO, Economy Terror, Sweet Lou, Cedar Dove, San Pail and Anndrovette. At this point four of this year’s BC winners are sure bets to win their divisions and a few others are still in the running.
The undefeated Cantab Hall colt, Wheeling N Dealin, is going to win the 2-year-old trotting colt division. He didn’t make a start outside of Canada, but he didn’t have to. The Dustin Jones trainee took the BC, the Wellwood, Champlain and the OSS Super Final. The two fillies, Bee A Magician and To Dream On, won more money and sport faster marks, but none of the colts are a threat to his supremacy.

Bee A Magician beat To Dream On in the Peaceful Way, but Jimmy Takter’s Credit Winner filly won the BC as well as the Bluegrass, International Stallion Stakes, Merrie Annabelle and Reynolds. Bee A Magician, a daughter of Kadabra, was the queen of the ONSS and in addition to the Peaceful Way, won the Champlain and the OSS Super Final. She put on a dominating performance as she cruised to victory by open lengths in a TR ONSS Super Final win at Woodbine on Saturday.  If she’d been shipped to Lexington or New Jersey she may have improved her chances, but the decisive win by TDO in the BC, as well as the overall superiority of her resume, gets her the nod.
Captaintreacherous lost the BC to Rockin Amadeus, but he paced the fastest mile ever at The Big M by a two-year-old in winning the Wilson; swept the Bluegrass and International Stallion Stakes at Lexington; and won the Nassagaweya and Metro in Canada. No contest.

The 2-year-old filly pacing division is still up for grabs. BC winner, Somwherovrarainbow, won her Matron elimination in wire to wire fashion and will be a prohibitive favorite to win the final from the two post, but all she has to back that up is a win in the Keystone Classic. Chris Ryder’s Rocknroll filly, I Luv The Nitelife, who finished second in the BC, is the leading money winner in the division and won the Bluegrass, She’s A Great Lady and a division of the Eternal Camnation. If Rainbow wins the Matron she may top the division, but if she falters it will be Nitelife. The latter has a more impressive overall resume but late season momentum seems to sway many voters.
Last year Chapter Seven won the BC in impressive fashion but failed to overtake Broad Bahn for division honors when he came up flat in the Matron. The latter took the division off of wins in the Hambletonion and the Zweig. Chapter Seven and MOMM were both better than Broad Bahn but the most talented individual often fails to win the division. This year Market Share was beaten by Googoo GaaGaa in the Colonial and Intimidate in the BC. Both lack the necessary credits to overtake MS in the voting, but they may well be more talented than he is. Market Share is a few bucks shy of $2 million for the season, with wins in the Hambletonion, Canadian Trotting Classic, Zweig and American National. He’s long on accomplishments. Intimidate was too late to the party and regardless of what Goo does in next week’s Matron, it’s over.

Maven beat CMO in the BC and also won the Moni Maker, Reynolds and American-National. However, CMO won more races and money and went faster. She set a new WR of :51.3 at The Big M, then broke that in the Bluegrass at Lexington. In addition to the Bluegrass, CMO won the Elegantimage, Hudson Filly, Del Miller, Zweig and PASS Championship. Yes, she jumped in the Oaks, but Maven and Win Missy B just haven’t done enough to overtake her.
Choosing the top 3-year-old pacing colt is tough. Off what he did in the BC as well as in the Progress Preview where he crushed Sweet Lou, Thinking Out Loud and Bettor’s Edge, Heston Blue Chip is the best pacer in the division. If he wins the Progress (post five) and the Matron, I don’t see how he can be denied. His problem of course is that he has spent the bulk of his season facing-off against NYSS colts. The BC is his only open win of 2012. Also, while Michaels Power, Thinking Out Loud, Sweet Lou and ARNRD are all millionaires, he is not. HBC won his Pace and Cane eliminations. His only trip to Canada was for this year’s BC, so he didn’t race in the NA Pace or the Simcoe. Also, he didn’t participate in the  Adios, Hempt, Battle Of Brandy, Bluegrass or Tattersalls Pace.

A Rocknroll Dance looked like a shadow of himself in the Monument Circle and the Messenger. He’s won once in the dozen races since his Pace victory. Sweet Lou went a great race to win the Tattersalls, but he has four losses since then. And that was his first open stakes win. Prior to the Tattersalls he took eliminations for the NA Cup, Pace, Adios and Jug. He keeps at it but seems to be spinning his wheels. He drew the rail in the Matron.
Michaels Power won the OSS Super Final over Needy and Mel Mara in TR time over the weekend, but his two open wins—the Jug and the Confederation Cup—may not be enough to win the division. Since the Jug he finished second in an ONSS GF and tenth in the BC. He’s way ahead on dollars, but much of that money is from restricted races. He did not race in the NA Cup final, the Pace, Hempt, Adios, Cane or Battle. His resume is similar to Heston’s in that respect. He’s staked to the Matron, but Casie Coleman said Jeff Snyder has not made a decision on that yet. Last year, after Cheddar won the BC, Coleman took him to Chicago for the Am-Nat and Windy City. She thought she had a shot at beating out RWJ for division honors but two strong wins weren’t enough. It would be unusual to have two colts that made their marks in SS programs fighting for division supremacy in the Matron. (Heston won the Matron last year.)

Bolt The Duer and Pet Rock have been in and out players on the top tier this year. In early June Bolt The Duer (Mark MacDonald) cut the mile in the Rooney only to have Sears come up the inside off a pocket trip and take the prize away with Pet Rock. Saturday night Duer evened the score, employing the same strategy to beat that one. In the Rooney they came the last half in :55.1 with Kingcole challenging on the outside for TT, and they came the last half in :55 the other night with ARNRD launching a challenge on the outside for David Miller.
The two colts are fairly even this year when it comes to earnings, with Duer up about $25,000. However, Duer has had a better year; aside from the Messenger, he won the Adios, Simpson and the KYSS final. Pet Rock, on the other hand, has a few high dollar seconds--the M Pace, Battle Of Brandywine and Cane, but the Rooney is his only open stakes win. He won his Confederation Cup elimination, went a big mile in a $10,000  Open at Delaware on Jug day and has been very impressive in winning a pair of preferred paces at Woodbine in recent weeks, but he hasn’t come up with anything to stand beside that Rooney win.

Pet Rock is staked to next week’s Windy City Pace, while both are eligible to the Matron, which kicks off with eliminations in two weeks. And both colts are staked to the Cleveland Classic in early December. It’s too late for Pet Rock to win the division, but a decisive win by Duer in the Matron, in tandem with a flat performance from the other contenders, could put him back in the running.
BC winner, American Jewel, is a sure thing in her division. She won the BC, Bluegrass, Fan Hanover, Simcoe, American-National and Lynch. And in the latter she equaled the WR for a 3-year-old filly on a 5/8 track. Also, she won the Fan in a WR :48.2 at Mohawk. She ranks second to Michaels Power in 3-year-old earnings. Slam dunk.

Chapter Seven is the obvious choice for aged trotting horse.
Frenchfrysnvinegar lost the BC to European visitor, Tamla Celeber, but the upset winner of last year’s BC won the final of the Miss Versatility series; won the Allerage Mare; and she leads her rivals in money and wins. Beatgoeson won the Muscle Hill, Zweig, Reynolds and PASS Championship, and may have carried the day with a BC win, but overall she wasn’t as good as Frenchfrys. Cedar Dove, who won a couple of legs of the Miss Versatility as well as the Ima Lula, was a disappointment.

Cheddar appears to be the most talented open pacer; his performance in the Franklin was absolutely dominant. However, he lost the Mohawk Gold Cup and Canadian Pacing Derby and Coleman had to quit with him after only eleven starts, so he is probably out of the running.
Off his wins in the Allerage and the BC elimination and final, Bettor Sweet is the best of the group right now, but those are his only three wins this year and he appears to be through for the season. That leaves Foiled and Golden Receiver. The former eclipsed Gallo’s money record this year and is the division earnings leader. He won the Canadian Pacing Derby, the Molson and the Indiana Pacing Derby. Golden Receiver has done more, though. He won the Graduate, US Pacing Championship, William Haughton and the Spring Pacing Championship at Woodbine. Foiled’s only quality stakes win was the CPD. The Molson drew a short, second-rate field and the IPD was dominated by horses from Foiled’s barn. Golden Receiver was second to Foreclosure in the big mile that one went in the AM-Nat on Saturday, while Foiled, who had a tough first over journey, finished seventh. GR deserves the nod.

Not too long ago Put On A Show, with her eleven wins and WR, appeared to be the frontrunner in the Pacing Mare division. Her shortcoming was a tendency to fail in stakes races: the Overbid, Betsy Ross, Artiscape and Golden Girls, to name four. When her owner insisted that she take on the boys in the BC open, he set her up for failure in her biggest stakes challenge of the year, and what a failure it was. That episode probably left  a bad taste in the mouths of voters, to the point where she’s unlikely to win the division.
Anndrovette, who won the BC and topped the division last year also captured this year’s BC, as well as the Roses Are Red (WR), Overbid and Spring Of Hope. She trails Rocklamation in money and wins; the latter has thirteen to Anndrovette’s seven. Rocklamation won the Matchmaker, Milton and Pride In Progress. She took her Forest City elimination in record time on Saturday and has the rail for the final. She was a force to be reckoned with in the Matchmaker series in April and is still going strong in November. If Rocklamation wins the Forest City final she deserves serious consideration for divisional honors. Again, Foiled and Anndrovette have the inside track on the aged pacing divisions but Golden Receiver and Rocklamation—provided she wins the Forest City—deserve a serious look.

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