Here is a blog entry from VFTRG contributor Joe F. who has come to my rescue once again as I am a little under the weather. Joe provides us with a status report as we heading into the last quarter of the year. As the leaves fall, let me remind you there are just 62 days till Chanukah and 89 days till Christmas. Before long, we will have racetracks cancelling for snow (or in some track's case, a flake of snow).
After that sad facsimile of a race at Hoosier Park Saturday night, in which Captaintreacherous toyed with six hopelessly overmatched opponents, the USTA site, Harnessracing.com and Standardbred Canada all ran the same press release from one Emily Gaskin, Hoosier Park’s Racing Commentator and Race Publicist. The headline was, “The Captain’ Conquers Hoosier Park” and It began,”Captaintreacherous continued his winning ways in stunning fashion while taking the $50,000…….” I have no problem with her releasing that nonsense as a track generated press release, but why would the three primary harness racing sites in NA have to resort to carrying this fantasy laden account of what was essentially a walkover
Harnesslink ran its own account of the race, written by Team Treacherous admirer, Steve Wolf. He was careful to play up the fact that a portion of The Captain’s winnings were going to charity and how nice it was to reunite Tetrick with his roots and family and how it gave the locals a peek at greatness. The race itself was no race at all, but details, details
Nitelife, who has accepted every challenge this year, should be on top of Bee A Magician and The Captain in the Weekly Poll. One can understand why Bee’s connections would pass on the Bluegrass for a sure shot at the lucrative OSS Super Final, but what’s her excuse for skipping next week’s Filly Futurity? She has made half her starts against the OSS light weights. How different is this from Captaintreacherous skipping the Jug so he could race in a laugher against the Meatball Brigade at Hoosier Park. Chris Ryder is underselling Nitelife. When asked to compare her to Put On A Show he shrugs and says they have different styles of racing. The Captain and Bee, on the other hand, are being marketed as all-time greats. Great trotting fillies like Armbro Flight, Elaine Rodney and Classical Way beat the boys in the Kentucky Futurity. Bee apparently isn’t even racing in the Filly Futurity.
Dan Patch winner, Heston Blue Chip, won the BC last year and earned more than a million dollars, and O’Brien winner Michaels Power won the Jug and earned almost a million and a half. This year Heston won very weak opens at M1, Tioga and Satatoga and a WO at Harrah’s. He’s banked about 130K. And Michaels Power, who goes in the open at YR Saturday, has three wins this year, two in preferred company at Mohawk and the other in a Yonkers open. He’s earned 78K. Not what their connections had in mind when their charges came back at four.
Of the eight colts in the Night Of Champions final for 3 YO pacing colts at Yonkers four are by Bettor’s Delight and three by Art Major. The NYSS is certainly going to miss Bettor’s Delight.
There are 26 colts and fillies racing in three divisions of the Bluegrass on Thursday and 50 going in six divisions on Friday. Only one is based in the mid-west.
Regional sire stakes finals in New York, Ontario and Pennsylvania have conflicted with the Jug, Jugette and Bluegrass. The sire stakes money is so good that many colts and fillies are put on the SS track and left there for the season. After all how many pure Grand Circuit colts and fillies are there? Father Patrick, who won the Haughton, Wellwood and Champlain and will race in the Bluegrass on Friday, is one. Most of the other 2-year-old colt trotters are sire stakes types who occasionally moonlight on the Grand Circuit.
Seven of the ten horses in this week’s Top Ten Poll are freshmen and sophomores. Five of them; Father Patrick, Precocious Beauty, Royalty For Life, Captaintreacherous and Vegas Vacation weren’t eligible to the sire stakes final in their respective states because they either didn’t race at all in the restricted stakes or only did so once or twice. Nitelife did race in the Miss NJ and the NJSS legs and final at the beginning of the year but she’s been primarily a GC filly, with wins in the Fan Hanover, Shalee, Lynch, Valley Forge and Simcoe. The only genuine hybrid is Bee A Magician, who will forego Lexington to race in her Super Duper Gold Final. She has as many SS starts as GC this year.
Classic Martine and Frau Blucher are a couple of other hybrid sophomore filly trotters. Spider Blue Chip also fits the bill on the colt side.
There is no dyed in the wool Grand Circuit freshman filly. Lifetime Pursuit and Shake It Cerry raced in the Merrie Annabelle, but they were wedded to the PA sire stakes. That program’s finals were early enough not to conflict with the Red Mile GC meet. And the heavy hitters from its 2YO trotting filly division are well represented in Lexington. Designed To Be, winner of the 260K PASS Final, goes in the Bluegrass on Thursday, as do Cooler Schooner and Lifetime Pursuit. All three have concentrated on restricted stakes while adding one or two GC races to the mix.
Summertime Lea is the odds on choice in the 225K NYSS final on Saturday, but that wouldn’t be the case if Shebestingin was in the race. The latter, who won the EBC, concentrated on open stakes so she ranks 15th in her NYSS division, and hence is not eligible for the final. Lea earned more than 240,000 for the Burke Barn by sticking pretty much with the local program. Every time she strayed from it she fared poorly.
None of the other fillies in the 3YOP Bluegrass are pure open types; the filly on the rail, Ms Caila J Fra, is a hybrid. She won the NJSS final and raced in the Miss NJ and the SBOA Final. But she raced in the Lynch and finished second in the Shady Daisy. The field is markedly weakened by the fact that Nitelife is sitting out Lexington entirely while Somwherovrarainbow and Jerseylicious are not staked to the Bluegrass. Both were nominated to next week’s Tattersalls, however.
There are NY breds like Sunfire Blue Chip and Odds On Equuleus in the Bluegrass for 3YO pacing colts, but none that raced in the NYSS enough to accumulate much in the way of points. Vegas is sitting this one out. Most of these colts have plenty of experience on the GC. The Art Major colt, Fool Me Once, won splits of the Bluegrass and ISS last year and, although he won’t be in it, he’s staked to Saturday’s Bluegrass. Since he was so lightly staked this year he stuck with the NYSS and topped his division. He’s the ML favorite for Saturday’s final at Yonkers. Fool Me Once is eligible for next week’s Tattersalls Pace; maybe we’ll see him there.
Another top performer absent from the Bluegrass is Boomboom Ballykeel, the Metro winner who tops the divisional earnings list. The Mach Three colt doesn’t have enough OSS points to qualify for Saturday’s Super Final and he isn’t staked to anything in Lexington. Choosing the open path while being lightly staked can leave a colt or filly on the outside looking in as the season winds down.
The BC eliminations commence at Pocono in two weeks.