Warrawee Needy executed the first open stakes win of his career in the Mohawk Gold Cup. He came from seventh at the three-quarter mark. Favorite, Fred And Ginger, finally came back to earth. Needy is eligible to the Franklin.
Dynamic Youth, another Franklin eligible, beat NW10 in :49.1, with ease, at Pocono.
Heston Blue Chip got his first win of the year for Tetrick, holding off Tobago Cays and Brian Sears in a soft open at Tioga. Owner, Ken Jacobs, told Justin Horowitz the horse is only 80%. His blood profile is apparently off. Regardless, he goes in the Franklin elimination round next week.
While Needy and HBC won their starts, two other members of the vaunted four-year-old pacing class fell short. Mark MacDonald guided 3/5 favorite, Bolt The Duer, to a second place finish behind Abelard Hanover in an A-1/FFA at M1. The Rocknroll gelding won from the outside post for the third time in a row, as he closed in :26; he’s on a five win streak. His dam is half to All Speed Hanover as well as the dam of Foreign Officer. Abelard’s second dam, American Cool, is half to Eternal Camnation.
Kingcole also finished second. Bet On The Law beat him in a 48.4 mile at Pocono. It was the fifth loss in five 2013 starts for Kingcole. Both Duer and Kingcole are staked to the Franklin.
Eliminations for the Beal are also Saturday. Division kingpin, Wheeling N Dealin, is not eligible. Goodtimes winner, Flanagan Memory, is, as are Smilin Eli and Historic Cup winner, Corky.
Nominees to the Hempt include: Captaintreacherous, Wake Up Peter, Lonewolf Currier, Dedi’s Dragon, Vegas Vacation, Martini Hanover, Twilight Bonfire and Sunshine Beach. Apparently The Captain may wait for the Pace, which would mean three weeks off.
Maybe we’ll have a showdown between Nitelife and Rainbow—both Lynch eligibles. L Dees Lioness and Jerseylicious are also staked to that one.
Nitelife crushed the field in the Fan for Tetrick. Where was Somwherovrarainbow? She was staked to the Fan Hanover. Four days prior to last week’s elimination, Rainbow beat up on a soft field in the $78,000 Adios Betty (PASS) at The Meadows. Nitelife won the O’Brien last year while Rainbow won the Dan Patch.
And where was Wheeling N Dealin? He wasn’t nominated to the Goodtimes. WND qualified on Wednesday. He could have beaten this field trotting backwards wearing ice skates. The Goodtimes and the Gold Cup both featured weak fields, bereft of genuine players.
To Dream On is the biggest disappointment of 2013. She’s a shell of what she was in the fall.
Kudos to the trainers and connections of the horses made available for the Historic races at Tioga.
Last year on Cup night Brian Sears upset China Pearls and Cedar Dove with 9/2 shot, Pembroke Heat Wave, in the Armbro Flight; finished third with Win Missy B in the Elegantimage; finished out in the Goodtimes with Lindy’s Jersey Boy; finished out in the Fan with 3/1 second choice, Economy Terror; finished out with 2/1 second choice, Golden Receiver, in the Gold Cup; and finished out in the NA Cup with 49/1 shot, Pet Rock.
He only drove Golden Receiver once after that night. That one started from the outside post and trailed the field throughout in his Franklin elimination. Sears hasn’t driven him since.
Last night at Yonkers Sears won two, had two seconds and a third, and finished last four times. George Brennan had three winners and a second. He finished last twice. And expatriate, Mark MacDonald, who drove Mohawk’s guest of honor, Sportswriter, to victory in the 2010 Cup, had a second and third at Yonkers before heading for the Meadowlands.
Dash leader, Corey Callahan, had one drive at Mohawk, a third place finish with Jerseylicious.
Ron Pierce had a second and a third in six starts. He finished sixth with favorite Fred And Ginger in the Gold Cup and seventh with another favorite, All Speed Hanover, in a high end conditioned pace.
If Captaintreacherous continues on his current course and becomes the next great pacer, it goes without saying that seeing him race beyond his sophomore campaign will represent a shot in the arm for the sport. Losing his daddy to the stud barn after his three-year-old campaign was a real downer. But now we have the Gural rule. I’m sure Team Treacherous will enthusiastically embrace the opportunity to take on the FFA field in the TVG final in November, if he tops his class. This will take us back forty or fifty years to the days when the best sophomores made the annual year-end trek to California to take on their elders. Mr Gural has to be thrilled about that possibility. And it’s also a sure bet that The Captain’s connections are virtually wetting their pants in anticipation of the prospect of him being integrated into the FFA class next year; I’m sure words cannot express how thrilled they are about that. You won’t hear any phony excuses about why he deserves a medical waiver and needs to be retired, for his own sake, and blah, blah, blah—no way. Jeff Gural’s new stallion policy was brought to fruition just in time.
Friday’s Hugh Grand sire stakes pace at Yonkers was originally scheduled for last Monday but was pushed back due to the EHV-1 quarantine at Vernon. There were four $88,000 divisions. The 27 starters were, for the most part, a dismal bunch. Doctor Butch, the number three sophomore pacer according to the lunatics who put together the Trackmaster Experimental Rankings, had won the Rooney, and Hail The Taxi won last year’s Sheppard. Beyond that there were a couple of Landmark split winners. The Rooney is tottering between grade 2 and grade three stakes race status, while the Sheppard is a glorified NYSS race. Six of the eight starters in last year’s edition were by New York stallions and 60% of those staked to this year’s race are the same.
There were four New York breds in the NA Cup but they probably wouldn’t have started in the Grant anyway. Vegas Vacation and Captive Audience have never raced outside of Canada. Fool Me Once made just about all his starts in Canada; he did race at The Red Mile. And Odds On Equuleus raced in one NYSS race in 2012—his first lifetime start. Last year the Grant was held on a foggy night in the third week of May, long before the Cup, while in 2011 it was held six days after that race. Heston Blue Chip, who didn’t race in the Cup, was last year’s star with a mile in :52 as the 1/9 favorite.
Saturday night Doctor Butch, the 2/5 choice in the fourth division, was carried at the start but Morrill was able to back down the middle half—second quarter in :29. Still, he dropped anchor late in the mile and finished third. Hail The Taxi, the 18th fastest sophomore according to the Predictive Rankings, finished second at 1/5 in the third division. All four divisions were won by NYSS regulars.
Three divisions featured :29.4 second quarters while the fourth went in :29. In three of them the field was in single file formation to the half or close to it. The mares in the $46,000 F&M open went the second quarter in a somnambulistic thirty seconds. I don’t claim to have a solution, but putting aside arguments about sanctioning drivers for backing down the second quarter or middle half and the obligation of the field to go after the leader, the insufferably dull and essentially unbettable brand of racing being offered up at Yonkers will kill the sport faster than meddling politicians, integrity issues or usurious take-out rates. Why would anyone in their right mind switch from betting the flats, pulling on the arm of a slot machine or playing the lottery to playing these trotters.
Friday’s three $79,000 divisions of the PASS at Harrah’s featured the same sort of wildly uneven talent field we got later on in the Hugh Grant. However, the first division, won by the longest shot on the board, Net Ten EOM (SBSW), driven by TT, was very competitive as there were five across at the finish. And the second quarter of the :51.4 mile went in :27.4, not :29.4.
In the second division, odds on winner, Lonewolf Currier, and second place finisher, Some Kinda Beach, gapped the rest of the field by ten lengths to the three quarters.
In the third division even money shot, Dedi’s Dragon, just held off his paternal brother, Our Dragon King, in :51.2. Gingras drove for Burke.