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Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Dash Title Race Which Likely Won't Happen

VFTRG Contributor Joe F. takes a look at this year's dash title race, or more specifically the dash title race which won't happen.  In addition, Joe takes a look at the Aged Pacing Mare Year End Awards Contest.

Last year Tim Tetrick and George Brennan contested the dash title all summer, only to have Dan Noble bust out with 96 wins in September, including 16 at Delaware, and move ahead of Tetrick. The race was certainly played up in the harness press and it should have been exciting, but it wasn’t. Brennan drives almost exclusively at Yonkers these days and that track adheres to an abbreviated schedule in December. Beyond that, Brennan had no intention of sacrificing his annual year-end Florida vacation to a showdown over the dash title. By late November George was pretty much conceding the title to Noble.

As of this moment Tetrick is three back of Palone, with the former scheduled to drive in a dozen races today at Harrah’s while Palone drives in eleven at The Meadows. Sounds riveting enough, but not much is being made of it. Those two tracks race through December 21, while Dover goes through the end of the year and Northfield through the 29th. The Big M opens on the 28th. Opportunities for a dramatic finish abound, but it probably won’t happen because the players in this contest don’t really roll that way.
One who did roll that way was Herve Filion. He created more drama chasing his own records than Palone and Tetrick will ever generate in a head to head. Herve decided to become a regular at Yonkers in 1967. The previous year he had won 266 races, placing him fourth behind Bob Farrington, Del Insko and Buddy Gilmour. He was tenth in purse money.

The following year he went after the WR of 384 wins in a season and broke it with a total of 407. He was up by 70 wins on Insko with a month to go in 1969, but chasing his own tail around seemed to breed as much drama as a typical two-man race. He won 486 in 1970 and 543 the next year. Herve also earned more purse money than any driver ever had in 1971.
In 1972 he wanted to break the $2 million dollar mark and win another 500 plus races. By Dec 30 he had 597 wins and had banked $2.4 million in purse money. Did he take a well earned vacation? No way. He drove twenty in a day-nighter at Monticello and the following day he was at Dover.

By 1989 Herve was up 5,000 career wins on second place Carmine Abbtiello, but he wanted to break 800, and he did. Tetrick being three back of Palone should trump Herve chasing his own records but it doesn’t seem that way.

The Dan Patch award for aged pacing mares is still in play and POAS is keeping her name in the papers. Last week she dominated a field of open mares from the outside at Harrah’s and on Wednesday she will attempt to do the same to a deeper field for a $75,000 purse. She has been placed on the outside again. Krispy Apple and Bettor B Lucky join the fray.

Burke’s Bettor B Lucky, who takes on the open mares for the first time, beat Cookie, Economy Terror and Romantic Moment in the Lady Maud and topped Romantic Moment and Jewel in the EBC. She won her Jugette elimination and was leading in the final when stablemate Darina Hanover was allowed to move past her into the lead. She finished second.
BBL missed six weeks prior to the Lady Maud and was scratched out of her BC elimination due to a heart problem. She beat nw13 at 1/5 last week at Harrah’s.

Jewel and Romantic Moment are the only two sophomore fillies that have earned more money than BBL. She was assigned the three post, inside of KA, Feeling You, Cee Cee and POAS. Lots of good open candidates in the three-year-old pacing division and BBL is one who could make a mark on that circuit next year.

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