VFTRG contributor Joe F. takes a look at some of the upcoming WEG stakes.
Now that the Wilson has been buried next to the Niatross, two-year-old pacers play no role on Hambletonion Day at M1 or Super Stakes Saturday at Pocono. The Nassagaweya and Eternal Camnation, both a week from tomorrow at Mohawk, now serve as the gateway to the open season for this class. The relatively easy—some easier than others—dollars have been accumulated in restricted races, and it’s now time for those worthy of engaging in open competition to step up. But how many of those will be missing in action at Mohawk on August 17?
Last year Captaintreacherous, Apprentice Hanover and Odds On Equuleus won the three splits of the Nassagaweya.
Looking at the earning’s list, seven of the top ten colts are not staked to the Nassagaweya. Five of those are by PA stallions and the other two are from New York and Ontario. Five of the seven are entered in 66K splits of the Tyler B at The Meadows on Tuesday. This includes, Limelight Beach, who is second only to Arthur Blue Chip in money earned. The Ontario colt not eligible is Steady Warrior by Royal Mattjesty.
Only nine of the 147 colts nominated to the Nassagaweya are by the hot new Ontario stallion, Shadow Play.
The two divisions of last year’s Eternal Camnation were won by Nitelife and L Dees Lioness. In 2012 it was Jewel and stablemate Romantic Moment. In 2010 Idyllic won and it was Put On A Show in 2009.
Nine of the top twelve pacing fillies on the earning’s list are not staked to the Eternal Camnation. This includes division kingpin, Gallie ByThe Beach, who sports a perfect five for five record and 128K in earnings—less than a grand behind Arthur Blue Chip.
Shadow Play’s success obviously caught folks by surprise: of the 128 fillies nominated to the Eternal Camnation, only four are by that sire. Fillies like Nefertiti Bluechip, Alibi Seelster and Lady Shadow were not staked to the Eternal Camnation. With the race being contested at Mohawk, this is a problem.
The compete level is so high in the aged pacing group that the connections of horses that would typically enter their charges in the TVG series or the Canadian Pacing Derby are taking a pass. The elimination for the latter is in a couple of weeks and about 70% of those nominated are either retired, on the shelf or not up to facing Lou, Needy, Pet Rock, Duer, Golden Receiver…… Let’s hope they can pull Michaels Power, last year’s highly touted O’Brien winner, away from his duties as a preferred pacer and start him in the CPD; he’s nominated. He makes his fifth consecutive start in the preferred class at Mohawk tomorrow. He crushed them last week. This is a strange race in that it features Fool Me Once, who should be in the EBC but wasn’t staked to it, and Sunshine Beach, who hasn’t raced for three weeks. Art Professor, who hasn’t started in two years, is also entered, along with a few regulars. Let’s hope they take the training wheels off of Michaels Power by CPD day.