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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Look At The Upcoming Season

It looks like the $100,000 Meadowlands Maturity Trot will move ahead five weeks to the middle of June. Last year the Maturity was raced on May 4, and while most of the better male members of the four-year-old class showed up, there were a couple of notable absences: Market Share wasn’t ready and didn’t make his first start until four weeks later, and Intimidate’s connections elected to keep the BC winner in Quebec, where he opened his season a week after the Maturity. Googoo Gaagaa started in the race but was no factor. Modern Family came late to win for Tim Tetrick and Daryl Bier.

And another plus for the four-year-old trotters will be a revival of the Hambletonion Maturity, a month before the Hambletonion Open, at a distance of a mile and an eighth. It will consist of a single dash; if 16 trotters declare there will be six trailers. Everyone will get paid, as 1% of the purse will go to finishers six through last. And unlike the Hambletonion Open and the Oaks, supplemental entries will be accepted. The going rate for that will be $50,000.

In 1966 Noble Victory trotted the fastest competitive mile in the history of the sport—1:55.3—in the Hambletonion Maturity for Stanley Dancer. The first edition was won by the Rodney mare, Spry Rodney, in 1963 and the following year Prix de France winner Elma, the dam of Texas, won the race. Since Herb Liverman said the other night at the O’Brien’s that his mare, Bee A Magician, would have entered and won the Hambletonion if she didn’t have a sore foot, I assume we’ll see her taking on the boys in this year’s Maturity. That will certainly add a lot of pizzazz to the race.

The Progress Pace will be held Sunday December 7, five days before the Cleveland Classic. Last season there was a two-week gap between those races. The Cleveland Classic had a short field of six, with three of them having raced in the Progress….The TVG finals will be held on the last Saturday in November, just like last year, but the Final Four will be absent from that card in 2014. The Governor’s Cup, Three Diamonds, Valley Victory and Goldsmith Maid will be held a month earlier on October 25 at Woodbine. This will work out much better as those races were missing many top tier colts and fillies because those stakes were held so late in the season….The Nadia Lobell, which was held at Garden State during the first eleven years of its existence, has become something of a nomad. POAS beat Dancinwiththestarz in :49.4 at The Meadows in 2010 and the following years Idyllic won at the Meadows when Peelers lost her way. The Meadowlands cancelled it in 2012 and last year Shebestingin outclassed a field that was missing Nitelife as the odds on choice at the Meadowlands. This year the Nadia joins the Monument Circle and the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby on Friday October 31. That will be six days after the repositioned Lady Maud. The Yonkers trot and Hudson Filly will move ahead three months and join the Messenger and Lady Maud on October 25.

Last season the first Breeders Crown eliminations were held five days after the Kentucky Futurity and the Allerage stakes at the Red Mile; this year there’s a five week gap. That will create some breathing room—maybe too much…..The Moni Maker, which was pretty much a walkover for Bee at 1/9 on the last day of November at the Meadowlands last year, joins up with the Erskine (Oliver) five weeks earlier, on a Friday at Hoosier Park…..

The first leg of the Miss Versatility will be held Monday May 19 at Woodbine. Maven made her four-year-old debut in this race last year, winning as the 1/5 choice. Five of the seven mares entered in that race were four-year-olds. With Bee A Magician being WEG based, it’s a safe assumption that she’ll kick off her season in that race before a hometown crowd. There will be another leg of this series five weeks later at Mohawk…..WEG has repositioned some of their stakes races. For instance, last year the Roses Are Red was held July 20. Anndrovette stared down Drop The Ball in that one. It has been moved back to June 14, the same night as the NA Cup. And the Elegantimage, which was held on Cup night, has been jumped ahead three months to September 13, the night of the Canadian Trotting Classic, Wellwood, Peaceful Way and the Milton. And a month later the Final Four will be held at Woodbine. Also, the Casual Breeze, for three-year-old filly trotters, which was held May 31 last season has been jumped ahead almost three months to Friday August 22, the day before the elimination round for the Metro, Great Lady and CPD. The new date for the Roses Are Red will place the top pacing mares at Mohawk on Cup night. Moving the Casual Breeze and Elegantimage to late August and mid-September will draw a more seasoned group of trotting fillies.


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