VFTRG contributor Joe F. offers some random thoughts in harness racing.
Leading up to the Levy final, back in the spring, Ron Burke had a dilemma: more horses eligible for the final than the rules allowed. He wound up selling Something For Doc to Mark Ford and his ownership group. At that point SFD had won seven times, including four preliminary legs of the Levy, and earned more than 160K for the year. The price was apparently substantial; built into it was the fact that a sharp horse was eligible to compete in the 450K Levy final. In a stroke of bad luck, SFD drew the eight in that race and stayed eighth throughout. He hasn’t won in his eight starts since that night, finishing third against nw18 at Yonkers the other night. Maybe eight is his unlucky number and he can now move beyond it. I spoke too soon: Something For Doc starts from the eight in Saturday’s ninth race at Yonkers.
The much improved Sevruga, who recently matched Uncle Peter’s WR over a 5/8 track at Pocono, is not staked to the upcoming Maple Leaf. Modern Family wasn’t nominated either. Goo is eligible but he’s apparently not ready yet. Sevruga, who is eligible to the Credit Winner and the Allerage Open, is the points leader in the TVG series.
Going into the Haughton, Fred And Ginger, who is not entered, still leads in the TVG series standings and he can only trail Sweet Lou or Golden Receiver after the Haughton. None of the others are close enough to pass him. Needy is in 7th place with 24 points, followed by Pet Rock with 21. Foiled is in 10th place with only 13 points. Heston has a single point; ARNRD has two and Duer eight.
Hazel Park is one of the tracks lured back into the Grand Circuit this year. Their single GC event is the 100K William Connors Memorial, which takes place Friday night. Last week they held a $12,500 elimination which featured the same six trotters entered in this week’s final. The winner of the elimination, Sir James, beat nw2 at Hoosier Park in June. Another starter, Torino Seelster, was 49/1 against nw2 at Mohawk in June. The announcer said, “This is a Grand Circuit event.” Really. What is the point of this foolishness? Talk about a waste of $100,000. How does being linked to a fiasco like this benefit the Grand Circuit?
Yonkers is another track which rejoined the Grand Circuit this year. Saturday they have two eliminations for the reincarnated Sheppard for two-year-old pacers. Most of the fifteen entered are state breds. Overall the quality is poor; two exceptions appear to be Stevensville, a SBSW colt with two wins, one of them in the PA All Stars, and the If I Can Dream colt, Forty Five Red….. No drives for Sears and Brennan at YR on Saturday. Things look better over yonder. Sears gets to drive Bee A Magician in the Miller and Royalty For Life in the Dancer, while Brennan has Sunshine Beach in the Pace.……Wheeling N Dealin, Smilin Eli and Royalty For Life are eligible to the Yonkers Trot which is a week before the Hambo. The heats and final for the latter are now on the same day, so one can do both. It’s hard to believe the WND crowd will show up at YR, though…. I’ll never forgive Goo for breaking in last year’s Yonkers Trot, leaving it to Archangel. If I hear one more M1 post race commercial for the latter I’ll lose my lunch. If anything happens to Credit Winner, the trot named for him would become the Archangel. God help us all.
Last year there were ten starters in the Maple Leaf, this year it’s eight. There were two ten horse eliminations for The Roses Are Red last year, there are two seven horse elims this time around. There was a single elimination for the Pace. The world is getting smaller.
Last year Drop The Ball set a TR in one Roses Are Red elim and POAS blew by the field in deep stretch to win the other. In the final Tetrick bolted out of the gate with Anndrovette and never looked back--:48.1, track and Canadian record. Top that. Feeling You and Cee Cee are top tier mares that are missing this year.
Bettor Sweet made his only 2013 start on June 23 at Harrah’s. He finished third behind Abelard Hanover. He hasn’t been heard from since…..Kingcole is going backwards: he earned $20,000 per start at two, $13,600 last year, and he’s taking in $5,700 per this year, with one win….For all the very good miles Pet Rock has gone this year, he has one win to show for it. And with the nine in the Haughton it will probably stay that way…..The Wm Haughton was five weeks later last year. With two scratches it amounted to Golden Receiver rolling over a weak six horse field. Not this year.
For the first Meadowlands Pace there were two 12 horse eliminations and the top five finishers in each advanced to the same day final…..Royalty For Life is the MOMM of 2013—very fast but totally unpredictable. MOMM won the Stanley Dancer at 13/1 for Andy two years ago. He then won his Hambletonion elimination at 2/5. Then he got steppy in the final. A wild card like RFL is not the handicapper’s best friend.…..Did Sylvain simply take Wheeling N Dealin on a tour of the track the other night, or was he that flat? Exactly what is this Grand Plan for winning the Hambletonion?.....Remember Jimmy Takter blaming Mike Lachance for costing him the Hambo win with Guccio last year. Please….I have a sneaking suspicion that Riccolo is going to parachute in and win the Maple Leaf Trot. Goo wasn’t the only curiosity last year. Remember the great Riccolo; he and Market Share were both 6/5 in an open the week before the Hambletonion eliminations. Riccolo had gone 8 for 8 in the Illinois SS when Paisley unloaded him on the Norwegians for six figures. Unlike Goo, he was eligible to the Hambletonion—not the Colonial, BC, Matron or anything else, though. Bjorn Goop was going to drive Riccolo in the Hambo. When last seen he was finishing out in an ISS race in October. Maybe they brought him back to Norway.