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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Races That Went Away In 2013

It’s inevitable that at the close of each year we look back with regret upon the people and horses that have passed on. This year it also seems appropriate to sadly reflect upon all the races we’ve lost. Over time it’s inevitable that some fall victim to cost cutting measures, track closings or drooping trend lines. Great races like the UN Trot, Good Time Pace and International Pace are long gone from the Yonkers Raceway calendar. The Cane Pace, a leg of the Triple Crown honoring the founder of the track, was even given the boot after the 1997 edition.  The Realization, Nassau Pace, National Pacing Derby and Roosevelt International are all gone, as well as the track that hosted them. It’s just that 2013 seems to stand out from the rest—for all the wrong reasons.

The Confederation Cup—the other half mile track race involving heats—went away in 2012. Raced since 1977, when Governor Skipper won the sophomore pacing gem, it carried a hefty purse of more than a half million dollars. The likes of SBSW, Art Major, Matts Scooter, Jate Lobell, OTRA, Cam Fella and Abercrombie won the Confederation Cup. Michaels Power captured the 36th, and apparently final, edition, which was worth 581,000, for Scott Zeron and Casie Coleman at Flamboro Downs.

The Titan Cup, named for the sport’s first two minute two-year-old, was an integral part of the racing scene from 1946 until 2012, first at Goshen and of late at the Meadowlands. Past winners include Elaine Rodney, Delmonica Hanover, Savoir, Keystone Pioneer, Lucky Jim, Enough Talk and Arch Madness. And Proximity, Galophone, Kimberly Kid and Iris De Vandel were all multiple winners. Chapter Seven won the last edition in 2012. The race has been replaced by an anonymous leg of the TVG series.

The Woodrow Wilson, which was held beginning in 1977 at the Meadowlands, has also gone away. No No Yankee was the surprise winner of the first edition and Captain Treacherous won the last.  Niatross and Die Laughing also won this prestigious high-dollar stake. As is the case with many stakes races for two-year-olds there were many colts who experienced their single shining moment in the Wilson winner’s circle; for instance, Kassa Branca, Sam Francisco Ben and Fox Valley Barzgar all experienced their fifteen minutes of fame the night of the Wilson.

 After making short work of his competitors in the Presidential, Golden Receiver—Mr Winter—would transition to the Spring Pacing Series at Woodbine. It took up residence at that track in 2009 after being held at Mohawk since 2001. The final carried a 90,000-100,000 purse. It is no more. Camcracker won twice, while in recent years, Dali, Hypnotic Blue Chip and Golden Receiver also won. From 1988 to 2000 it was called the Toronto Series and raced at Mohawk. Ball And Chain won in 1995; Riyadh won in 1997; and five-year-old Dragon Again won in 2000.

The Cam Fella is another WEG spring pacing series that has gone the way of the phone booth. It was for four and five-year-olds that were NW 150,000 and filled the calendar from 1987 to 2012. Modern Legend won the last 100,000 final in 2012 as the 1/9 favorite.

Since 2005 the Glorys Comet had been the springtime series for early bird open trotters. Mister Herbie beat San Pail in what served as his coming out race in 2012. San Pail had won the Glorys Comet the previous year. The race was named in honor of the Balanced Image double millionaire who won a Dan Patch and an O’Brien in 1998 as well as an O’Brien in 1997.

The Des Smith, which was raced at Rideau Carleton, and has been around since Miller’s Scout won the inaugural in 1982, is also gone. Red Bow Tie and Silent Swing were two time winners. Artsplace and Riyadh also won the Des Smith. In the final 2012 edition, which carried a purse of 175,000, Cheddar nosed out Foiled in a finish so close some still dispute it.

In recent years Georgian Downs fashioned its premier night of racing around the Earl Rowe Memorial for older trotters and the Upper Canada three-year-old pace. The Rowe, which was raced at Geogian from 2002 to 2012, except for 2009, was won by seven-year-old Buck I St Pat in 2010. Her driver, Tim Tetrick, also won the Upper Canada that year with Haul Away. There was also a Silver Edition of the Rowe at a reduced purse.

The Upper Canada, which had a short run from 2009 to 2012, was the richest restricted race in NA. It carried a 500,000 purse in 2011 and that was upped to 600,000 in 2012. The race served as a lucrative prep race for the NA Cup. Michaels Power won the final edition for Scott Zeron and Casie Coleman.

The Frank Ryan for older trotters at Rideau Carleton also seems to have disappeared. This race had been held since 1996, when three time winner Goodtimes won the inaugural edition. Mister Herbie took the last edition of the Ryan in 2012 at 3/5. From 1965 to 1996 the Ryan was raced for older pacers. Riyadh won the last of those. Over the years Cam Fella. Super Wave, Horton Hanover, Young Quinn, Armbro Ranger and Dream Maker all won the Ryan.

Dorunrun Bluegrass, Ball And Chain and Shark Gesture were two time winners of the Graduate, which was held at the Meadowlands from 1978 to 2012. Dream Maker won the first and Golden Receiver won the last. In between, Direct Scooter, Cam Fella, Call For Rain, Gallo Blue Chip and Foiled Again all won the race. The Meadowlands Maturity for four-year-old pacers, which carries a purse half the size, now occupies that slot.

The Overbid was scheduled to take place in 2013 but the Meadowlands cancelled it due to what they characterized as a lack of interest. The series honors the dam of Overtrick and Overcall. It was held all but one year between 1978 and 2012. Anndrovette won the 2012 edition. Shady Daisy and Nadia Lobell both won the Overbid.

The emphasis seems to be on creating racing opportunities for aged horses—and four-year-olds in particular. The pacing mares are seeing their choices become increasingly thin, however. The Forest City Pace, which has served as the final post-BC opportunity for the pacing mares to sort things out in recent years is also gone. It only lasted three years. Rocklamation set a stakes record winning the final edition for Scott Zeron in 2012. Actually Rocklamation and Camille—another Burke charge—both broke the TR at Western Fair in the elimination round.

The Ellamony, named for the 1995 HOY in Canada, has also gone away. The Flamboro Downs race only had a three year run. It carried a 221K purse in 2012 when Camille won. Warrawee Koine had lowered the world record to :51.1 in her elimination. There aren’t very many opportunities for pacing mares to begin with; losing the Overbid, Forest City and Ellamony represents a serious blow to that division. And beyond that, I don’t recall seeing the A Spring Of Hope raced in 2013. That’s the 100K invitational sponsored by Mohawk and the Young family. It’s named for the charity Richard, Joanne and Brittany Young set up to build wells for schools in Africa. Anndrovette won it in 2011 and Put On A Show won the 2012 edition.

The Su Mac Lad, for older trotters, was nixed from the Meadowlands calendar in 2010. The Woodruff and Berrys Creek also ended that year. The Holmes, Niatross and Countess Adios were all eliminated in 2011. The Tarport Hap, which was born in 1977, the year the MHF mare died at the quarter pole in an M1 open, ended with the 2011 edition. The Nat Ray, named for the winning driver in the first Hambletonion, was renamed for John Cashman Jr in 2012. Money has been repurposed to make the TVG work. A few new stakes have been added to the schedule of one track or another but not nearly as many as have gone away.



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