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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Joe F. Reviews the TVG FFA Trot

Friday night's 10th race at the Meadowlands is a $50,000 leg of the TVG FFA series for trotters.  A full field of ten will compete for points for the Meadowlands championship race at the end of the year  VFTRG contributor Joe F. takes a look at the field.
Market Share qualified Friday in :53 (:26) and makes his second start of the season, and first in the TVG series, Friday night. He beat a soft A-1/FFA field at M1 on May 31. Half the ten horse field consists of four-year-olds; it is completed by three five-year-olds, one six and nine-year-old Arch Madness.
Mister Herbie earned almost a million dollars last year battling Chapter Seven, and was probably the pre-season favorite in the series, but it appears his foot problems have resurfaced. Last year he missed seven weeks between the end of May and the third week of July. Herbie looked good finishing second to Modern Family in his Cutler elimination, but in the final he dropped back to eighth after leaving from the rail and failed to engage the field from that point forward.

Andy Miller backed the field down with Sevruga in the Cutler and played catch me if you can from the half on. The finish was dramatic with four across: Sevruga, Guccio, Wishing Stone and Modern Family. (The latter is not staked to the TVG.) Sevruga, an SJ’s Caviar gelding, leads the TVG standings with 48 points, followed by Wishing Stone with 38  and Guccio with 25. There are six full-fledged legs and one possible elimination left, and the road to making the top ten is wide open.
Wishing Stone wired the field in :52 in the Maxie Lee at the end of May, equaling the Harrah’s TR. Gingras backed the second quarter down to :29.3 and sprinted off to a three length win. The little guy has won three times for the Burke barn this year.

Guccio and Uncle Peter both won in a TR :51.1 at Pocono this month. The latter has won twice against lesser this year, and the same goes for his stablemate. Guccio is cursed with Takter in the bike every time out and Friday is no exception. Takter managed to win Saturday’s start against an inferior field at Pocono as the 2/5 favorite, but I wouldn’t count on that happening here. The trotters are much better and the drivers listed include: Tetrick, Gingras, David Miller, Mike Lachance and Andy Miller. Takter is a HOF trainer; not to be confused with a HOF driver.
On this weekend last year the Meadowlands offered the $40,000 Titan Prep. Winning Mister made the mile and Tetrick waltzed past him at the end to win in a WR :50.4. The same scenario played out the following week in the $200,000 final, with the exact same result. You wonder where they come up with the scratch to fund that high-dollar year-end final? This week’s open represents a $190,000 savings from last year’s Titan. That’s the source of part of it.

Arch had the misfortune to draw the ten as he makes his first start since returning from Europe. Last year he started the season with a bang but went winless for three months after racing overseas. On the other hand, two years ago he came back from his European sojourn and proceeded to win the Titan Prep, Titan Cup and a $60,000 open at Pocono in his first three starts. Then again, he was only seven-years-old at that time. Sears drove him in the Titan Cup and Buter in the open. His trainer will be sitting behind him Friday night.
San Pail was the big star in this division two years ago with 14 wins good for $1.2 million. Chapter Seven only made ten starts last year but he won eight of them for a million dollars and equaled the WR on a mile track. He was clearly the dominant force. No such star exists in 2013. Will Market Share step up? Many were skeptical about him last year. He won the right races—the high dollar Hambletonian and Canadian Trotting Classic—but Goo made him look bad in the Colonial and Intimidate embarrassed him in the BC. Heading off to the Heartland to dish out a couple of beat downs in the Am-Nat and the Galt didn’t make up for his weak showing in the BC. The elimination and final of the Dexter, three NJSS starts, the Zweig, Am-Nat and Galt: too many low-end wins.

Intimidate staked his claim to the division in the BC, but he’s keeping a low—as in nonexistent—profile. He hasn’t been nominated to much. Intimidate is staked to the Maple Leaf in mid-July, the Credit Winner in early September, and the BC.  Market Share, Wishing Stone and Guccio are eligible to the Allerage open at the Red Mile while Intimidate and Goo are not. It will be difficult for any aged trotter or pacer to win the division outside the context of the TVG. Some are concerned about that series marginalizing the aged H & G division BC races and it would seem their concern is justified.

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