Last night some of racing's best were at Balmoral Park competing in the American Nationals. As expected, Bee A Magician was victorious and Captaintreacherous regained his winning ways, perhaps a little too late to compete for HOY honors. Despite this, I think the story of the night was Maven who took on the boys for this first time and finished a credible second in the American National for older trotters, being worn down by Market Share.
Yes, Market Share really didn't have a problem taking on Maven, but the mare held on finishng a strong second (not giving up the lead until the final furlong) against the rest of the boys. Market Share eventually won in 1:52.1. Give her connections credit for taking on the older (male) trotters. This race may show once again how 'aged' trotting mares are more than able to hold their own against the boys.
I always thought Maven was positioned too low in the Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Poll and I would not be surprised if she moves up a little this week despite the loss. I expect to see a European career for Maven next season.
Bee A Magician raced conservatively in her race, waiting for the open stretch to make her move for the lead. Admittedly, it was a very conservative drive for the 'Magician, but a win is a win and she did it in 1:55.2 after taking the lead by the quarter in :28.2 and then letting Frau Blucher take the lead and do all the work, waiting until the passing lane opened up to make the finish look like a laugher..
As for the Captain, after last week's defeat at Hoosier Park, one had to assume Tony Alagna would have his charge ready to go this week and ready he was as Captaintreacherous won in 1:49, fighting off a determined Lucan Hanover. As typical, the Captain won by just enough but that is all which counts.
Despite the victory by Captaintreacherous, I think Bee A Magician holds on to a relatively solid lead in the polls this week as the number one horse on the way to the horse of the year award. Some may suggest the Captain should have put the second place horse away without any question.
Remember last year's darling 2yo pacer Odds On Equuleus? He is still winless this year but he has over $245,000 on his dance card for the year. We should all wish to have a horse like Odds On.
BTW, in HANA Harness' Grand Circuit Handicapping Contest, contestant Mark McKelvie had a phenomenal evening netting a profit of over $1,000 this week and no, he didn't have Tough Rose who paid $254.60 to win in her race, Yesm the freshman pacing filly lucked out thanks to the break in the deep stretch, but credit needs to go to her driver Andy Shelter who had her in a good position when confusion reigned.
It goes to show you the best handicapping only gets you so far, it all boils down to luck. Better be lucky than good.