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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Random Notes as the Days Grow Shorter

VFTRG contributor Joe F., offers some random notes as we head into fall (Tioga Downs is closing this Saturday night) and the days grow shorter.  Right up front, Joe F. takes aim at 'the scheduling conflict' which is keeping The Captain out of the Jug. I must confess, I have to agree with him.  Don't want to go multiple heats?  Fine, let's see him in an overnight at Delaware. 

The Captain can’t race in the Jug because of a scheduling conflict, a conflict with taking a snooze and eating some grass, perhaps. There are 26 days between the Cane and the Bluegrass. How will The Captain, who already gets more down time than Clay Buchholz, occupy himself during that stretch? table manager Myron Bell says there may be a mystery race next week. It’s not the PASS consolation for his class, because he’s not entered.

We are sure of one thing: the Captain has to race next year. We know that because Bell reminds us about it every five minutes. While rationalizing the colt’s boycott of the Jug he even raised the specter of The Captain having to take on his elders in the TVG final. No, don’t tell me that. Let’s get serious; there’s as much chance of CT tangling with Pet Rock, ARNRD, Duer and company in November as there is of the Tea Party offering strippers as the entertainment at their next convention. These folks are afraid of a challenging draw in Delaware and still they’re going to take on the FFA set in the TVG? Please! And someone give Myron Bell a big, fluffy crying towel. Every time he starts in on the colt’s demanding schedule, this that and the other thing for the good of the horse, and having to race next year, the tears start falling like rain.

Bell’s contention that top standardbreds are raced more like thoroughbreds these days is not without merit but it does run contrary to what Jeff Gural has been trying to achieve: more races and longer careers for star attractions. The Captain has made only eight starts thus far; if this magical mystery race fails to materialize the Bluegrass will be his next, then the Tattersalls Pace and the two starts required for the Breeders Crown. Putting aside the talk about the TVG, that would add up to a dozen starts for the season and 21 for his first two campaigns. No need to go back 40 or 50 years for comparisons, contrast his potential 12 starts with the 24 made by NA Cup champ, Thinking Out Loud, last year, the 20 made by the O’Brien champion, Michaels Power, or the 18 by Dan Patch winner, Heston Blue Chip. 

Last year Pet Rock wasn’t eligible to the Jug so his connections entered him in a 10K open at Delaware on Jug Day and put a very fast mile on his resume with little sturm und drang . Along the same lines, Linda Toscano didn’t want to expose Market Share to multiple heats in the Kentucky Futurity, so instead of supplementing him, she raced him in one of the 10K opens at Lexington. Perhaps Team Treacherous could take a similar approach with The Captain. Race him in one of the soft, single heat opens at Delaware. Folks would get to see him and he’d earn a fast mark over a half. Yes, that’s the solution to this dilemma. I’m quite certain that’s what Mr. Bell will do.

Kudos to Casie Coleman for coming right back with Vegas Vacation and Lucan Hanover in the Simcoe, five days after the Cane. Coleman isn’t torn like Hamlet about racing or not racing her charges in the Jug, which she won last year with Michaels Power. A couple of years ago she got third in the Jug with Cheddar. Winning the Cane is the only way a colt that hasn’t been nominated can get into the race and I believe Cheddar, who won the Cane, was supplemented to both. Can’t help thinking the unwavering love of the Jug Casie has been dishing out in her post race interviews serves as a veiled shot at Team Treacherous.

Speaking of the Jug, Johny Rock’s w-w win against older horses in :47 at Pocono on Saturday was an eye opener. While Pet Rock was battling ARNRD for the lead in the Ewart at Scioto, where they hit the quarter in :25 flat, Johny Rock, with Andy Miller sitting behind him, was pretty much on his own from start to finish. This is the type of colt that can come up big in the Jug, especially with a favorable draw. He finally made it on to the Road To The Jug top ten contenders list at number nine. The big news today is that the OSS gelding, Mach It So, who has had the number five spot locked down for some strange reason, won’t be competing in the Jug.  He finished fourth Saturday night in the Simcoe. Not sure why Jay Wolf is so taken with him; he hasn’t met with any success outside his restricted stakes program. File that one under head scratchers.  Johny Rock was 12/1 in the first Jug Wagering Pool.


The fear that a lack luster four-year-old campaign will diminish a horse’s value as a stallion is real. Heston Blue Chip’s inability to win anything but opens at Tioga and Saratoga or a winners over at Harrah’s has probably made quite a dent in his desirability as a stallion. He drew the rail in his Quillen elimination Monday but was no factor as Clear Vision won easily over Michaels Power and Escape The News. Market Share is in a similar situation, although he did win the Maple Leaf and a FFA leg of the TVG. Still, he failed to convert in the Credit Winner, Maxie Lee and a couple of others. And being a son of Revenue doesn’t help in NA to begin with. A poor showing in the Allerage/BC would be a problem. However, wins in those races might turn things around for him.
Pet Rock and A Rocknroll Dance, both of whom experienced plenty of success as well as  their share  of disappointing moments at three, have markedly increased their value in the breeding market. The premature passing of their sire certainly enhances their appeal.  If Captaintreacherous wins his two starts in Lexington as well as the BC, he’ll have nowhere to go but down. And if Pet Rock, ARNRD, Duer, Sweet Lou and friends hang around for another year The Captain could wind up off the path and wandering in the desert like HBC.


Saturday was a big day for the New York Sire Stakes program at Mohawk; three of the four Champlain divisions were taken by NY sired youngsters and both Simcoe splits went to New York breds. Art Major had three winners and American Ideal and Bettor’s Delight one each. There was also a coming out party for three promising players from Brittany Farms. They share ownership of Master Of Law, Winds Of Change and Fort Knox. 


Bulletproof Enterprises bred Shock It To ‘Em, The Western Terror—Tootsie J gelding who upset Ultimate Beachboy in the Stallion Series Final for Pierce at Pocono Saturday night. Bulletproof will linger on the breeding line for years to come.


The youth movement that has taken control of the aged divisions on both gaits leaves old timers Arch Madness, Foiled Again and Golden Receiver as the only three from the Social Security set still trying to compete at the FFA level. Arch finished second in the Elitlopp in May but his only win in NA was a virtual walkover against a short, weak field in an open at Tioga. He broke at the start of the Credit Winner the other night. Golden Receiver, the King of Winter, hasn’t won since May 11, when he took a leg of the TVG. He last raced on August 17. Foiled keeps earning those big checks and still leads his division in dollars earned, however he hasn’t won for more than two months and no longer has a lock on the small track circuit stakes:  the Levy, Battle of Lake Erie and Quillen. Although he did win his Quillen elimination over four overmatched foes on Monday night.


It will be a few years before the stallions that took up residence in Ohio in 2012 and 2013 bear fruit. Those would include: Big Bad John, Art Official, The Panderosa, McArdle, No Pan Intended, Break The Bank and Dejarmbro. Many of the colts and fillies vying for 150K purses at the Scioto Downs Super Night were awful. The slots dollars have outpaced the breeding program.


The aged pacing mares have faded into the background; they’re being marginalized by a lack of opportunities. The Lady Liberty on August 3—Hambletonion Day—was their last stakes race. There was nothing on Super Stakes Day at Pocono and WEG hasn’t offered anything. Anndrovette and Rocklamation made their last two starts in a Preferred at Pocono and a winners over at Harrah’s. Meanwhile the trotting mares participated in a leg of the Miss Versatility and the Muscle Hill. And they’ll be in Ohio on Jug Day for the Miss Versatility Final. The next meaningful stakes race for the pacing mares is the Milton on September 21.

Off of her impressive win in the preferred trot at Pocono the other night, where Anndrovette was third, as well as her wins in the Lady Liberty and a 50K inv at Pocono in mid-August, Drop The Ball is the division leader.

Losing Peelers two years ago, Jewel at the beginning of last season and Put On A Show at the close of last season has prevented this division from turning into the powerhouse their opposite number has become.


When Your So Vain, a Donato out of a Muscles Yankee sister to Credit Winner, won a CPD elimination the other night, I was thinking he may wind up being Donato’s best colt. He won a split of the ISS last year and one of the Simcoe recently.

Check Me Out has had a terrible campaign, but some of Donato’s fillies have performed well, primarily in the PASS. Mistery Woman, Shake It Cerry, Honor Thy Daughter and Designed To Be are a few of them. Real Babe has come into her own with the older trotting mares, too. But Possess The Will, from Donato’s first crop, is still his top earning male. Check Me Out has earned 67% more than the second place Donato, male or female. Possess The Will only started five times last year. Power Play only made nine starts. Weingartner got on the track three times last year. Solvato was fourth at 80/1 in the Meadowlands Maturity last time out, in early May. Stand out colts? Bluto, Possessed Fashion, Don Donato???? The buyers gave Donato a haircut last year and his fee was cut by 25%. We’ll have to keep an eye on his colt/filly breakdown in the upcoming sales.

If you booked a mare to Direct Scooter back in 1994, the agreement called for a 10K stud fee payment if she produced a colt and 5,500 if it was a filly. Maybe they should do that with Donato, with the premium being paid for the filly.


Spider Blue Chip and Master Of Law are staked to the Old Oaken Bucket on Jug Day. It would be great to see those two show up. Frau Blucher looks like a standout in the Buckette, if she’s entered. Pet Rock, ARNRD, Michaels Power, Thinking Out Loud and Foreclosure are all eligible to the Winbak Aged Pace. 


Casie Coleman’s Dragon Again filly, Scandalous Hanover, who has won her last six, including the Shady Daisy in her last start, goes in the 50K PASS 3YOPF consolation at The Meadows Friday, probably with David Miller…..Another one in light in the 50K consolation round is the Andover Hall colt, Creatine. He won the 200K Colonial consolation as well as his Hambletonian elimination. Lindy’s Tru Grit, winner of the Zweig consolation, is also in that race.


Anonymous said...

Maybe the Captain has other issues related to soundness as a reason for the long layoffs between certain starts...

Pacingguy said...

They don't make them like they used to do they? So much for improving the breed.