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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Experimentals, Dewey, and Donato

Regular VFTRG contributor, Joe F. offers his opinion regarding this year's Experimental ratings as well as the influence of Deweycheatemnhowe and Donato Hanover:

The crew that took over Stan Bergstein’s Experimental Ratings/ Predictive Rankings have come up with another curious list. Fashion Athena, who won some PASS races when left to her own devices and lost whenever challenged, is rated number four, a slot ahead of the unanimous winner of his division, Wheeling N Dealin. Fashion Athena finished out against a C-1 field at The Meadowlands in her first 2013 start. She’ll finish ahead of Wheeling N Dealin? She’s faster than he is? Give us a break. She deserves to be rated a dozen spots ahead of Royalty For Life, too? Sure she does? Bee A Magician deserves the top ranking? No doubt about it—not.
The OSS Santana Blue Chip gelding, Windsong Jack, is ranked number five on the pacing list. He only raced in the Ontario Sire Stakes last year and will no doubt do the same this year. I guess a fast mile at Georgian Downs got him that ranking, as well as some easy OSS money. Santana Blue Chip fell flat on his face as an OSS stallion; they sold 14 of them for a $14,000 average in 2011 at Forrest City, while only two sold, one for $2,500 and the other for $4,500, in 2012. He was deported from Canada. Do you think he’s producing the number five open pacing colt? Another OSS colt, Mach Pride, is ranked number seven. We’re told he may be the strongest threat to Captaintreacherous. When will that be? He isn’t eligible to the BC, the Meadowlands Pace, or just about anything else, aside from the NA Cup where he’s 25/1 in the spring book. Windsong Jack isn’t even eligible to the Cup.

Something in their formula keeps taking them to Canada. Tarpon Hanover, who was good early in the OSS and won the Battle of Waterloo but was no factor in the Nassagaweya or Metro, is number 13, while Wake Up Peter, who won his BC elimination and finished a strong second in the final, is two spots back of him at number 15. Say what? Tarpon, an $82,000 Badlands Hanover yearling, is 30/1 in the NA Cup spring book. Windsong Jack is elevated off of a fast mile at Georgian Downs; Mach Pride gets the same treatment for winning fast at Rideau Carleton; and Tarpon gets a star for a fast mile at Grand River. Last year they had Wrangler Betonme, the pride of the Alberta SS program, in the top twenty. He started twice and earned no money. Who would have figured? Anybody.

Three super star trotters have joined the breeding ranks during the past decade: Donato Hanover, who is nine-years-old; Dewey, who is eight; and Muscle Hill, who is seven. Of the three, Donato is most important because he is key to keeping alive the line running from Noble Victory through Garland Lobell. Maybe Chapter Seven, a son of the short-lived Conway Hall stallion, Windsong’s Legacy, will get it done, but Donato is the logical choice, and really the only reasonable possibility for Andover Hall in NA at this point. Donato’s oldest are four-year-olds this year. Check Me Out was a great filly but where are the boys? Possess The Will, Weingartner and From Above, all from his first crop, showed promise at two, but they could barely make it onto or around the track as sophomores.

More than 46% of the Donatos sold at the high end--$50,000 plus—at Harrisburg in 2011; that figure dropped to 30% in the fall. His stud fee was cut 25%. Muscle Hill’s yearling average was 33% higher than his was in 2012. Dewey didn’t even have a Check Me Out in his first forgettable crop. Like Donato he started out with a $20,000 fee but during his journey from Kentucky to Ontario in 2010 and now to New York, that fee got cut in half. Dewey’s average fell 11% at Harrisburg in 2012: the buyers are not a patient group.
Historically the first couple of crops are where premium stallions tend to produce the son or sons that will extend them. Bob Marks has been pounding home that theory for ages. If you look at the Valley Victory line that comes down from Speedster; Speedy Scot was from the first crop of Speedster; Speedy Crown was from Speedy Scot’s second crop; Speedy Somolli was a product of Speedy Crown’s second crop; Baltic Speed was from Speedy Somolli’s second crop; Valley Victory (Peace Corps, too) was from Baltic Speed’s first crop; Victory Dream was from Valley Victory’s first crop; Self Possessed was from Victory Dream’s first crop; Cantab Hall and Cash Hall were both from the first crop of Self Possessed; Explosive Matter was from Cantab Hall’s first crop. OK, Gene Abbe was thirty-years-old when Big Towner emerged from his last crop, but more often than not those early crops tell the tale.

Donato himself was from Andover Hall’s first crop; Mr Muscleman was from Muscles Yankee’s first crop and Tom Ridge from the second; Broadway Hall was from Conway Hall’s first and Windsong’s Legacy from the second; I believe Chocolatier, Here Comes Herbie and RC Royalty were all from the second crop of Credit Winner; Florida Pro was from Arnie Almahurst’s first; Mack Lobell was from the first of Mystic Park; Noble Gesture from Noble Victory’s first; Sierra Kosmos from Nearly Perfect’s first; Bonefish, Express Ride and Nevele Diamond were from Nevele Pride’s first and Bonefish from his second.
It goes the same way with pacers. Captaintreacherous is a first crop son of SBSW, and that one was from the second crop of Mach Three. Abercrombie was from Silent Majority’s first crop.  Look at the Meadow Skipper line: MHF was from his first crop and Albatross the second; Oil Burner was a product of MHF’s second crop; No Nukes was from his first; Jate Lobell was from No Nukes’ first; Rocknroll Hanover was from Western Ideal’s first; Rocknroll Heaven was from his first…..So the fact that Dewey and Donato are both coming up short on potential extenders this early in their stallion careers is not a good sign.

Golden Receiver is getting a lot of love for his wire to wire win in the TVG open the other night. He’s made nine starts in 2013 and has a win in the Presidential. Last year he had won the Presidential, swept the Spring Pacing Championship at Woodbine and won the Graduate by now. The latter two have gone away. Saturday’s TVG opens used to be the Graduate.

After winning the Haughton in mid-August of last year Golden Receiver lost four of his last five seasonal starts. The win was in an invitational pace at Pocono. That’s why he didn’t top the very beatable Foiled Again in the Dan Patch voting.
Cheddar is a better horse than Golden Receiver or Foiled at this point. Cheddar only faced Golden Receiver twice last year, in the Mohawk Gold Cup where Cheddar finished second behind WWS and Golden Receiver finished eighth, and in the Franklin elimination, where Cheddar cruised to victory and Golden Receiver finished ninth.

Cheddar is staked to the TVG. Will he be able to compete in it? Casie Coleman’s suspension is up, but will Gural allow her to race at the Meadowlands? Michaels Power, another Coleman trainee, is also staked to the TVG.  A beard won’t get it done. Cheddar hasn’t raced at the Meadowlands since the Pace in July 2011—almost two years ago. It’s hard to envision his connections turning their backs on the TVG, though.
Congratulations to Intimidate for his win in a $6,000 division of Series Quebecoise at Hippodrome 3R on Sunday. That’s one way to follow a win in the Breeders Crown, I suppose. Why race in the Cutler elimination Saturday night when you can go in Series Quebecoise on Sunday. Then again, he isn’t staked to the Cutler, Cashman or TVG. Maybe he’ll stay in Quebec and be required to race backwards. Or, maybe he’ll move on to Mohawk and be handicapped against the locals by being assigned the middle of the grandstand post. Maybe San Pail—another strange operation—will come back and he, Intimidate and Goo can stage the Oddball Trotting Futurity. Can we stick Blais in the Mr. Spaceman HOF with Hans and Hughes, or are there extenuating circumstances?

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