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Friday, May 23, 2014

Thoughts As The Season Heats Up On Memorial Day

Dropping the Roses Are Red back five weeks to the night of the NA Cup will bring even more energy to that card. It replaces the Elegantimage, which got lost in the shuffle on Cup night. The addition of Somwherovrarainbow, Shebestingin and Yagonnakissmeornot to division holdovers  Anndrovette, Rocklamation and Drop The Ball should make for an exciting season. And pushing the Casual Breeze and Elegantimage ahead to August and September, respectively, will allow the trotting fillies to mature and be in a better position to compete in those stakes.

In both 2012 and 2013 Golden Receiver kicked off the season with eight wins in his first nine starts. Right now he’s two for nine. The Presidential and the Graduate series amounted to early season cake for him, and the Spring Pacing Championship at Woodbine was dessert. But all of that is gone. Age and the reconfigured schedule have taken a toll on the Receiver. By now he’s generally got a nice cache put aside to carry him through the heart of the season when, with the exception of 2012, he’s had a tendency to fade. This year Golden Receiver is only averaging $5,000 a start.

North America Cup winner Thinking Out Loud has only started nine times in the past 29 months. He has a win in the USPC and two preferred wins at Woodbine. Bolt The Duer has five more lifetime wins and $300,000 more in the bank. He can’t match TOL’s Cup victory but he has wins in the Adios, Messenger and Bluegrass, and he also set a couple of world records. Duer has taken over as the premier son of Ponder. Bandolito will have to make up a lot of ground to take that title away from him.

Last year the inaugural Meadowlands Maturity Pace was held on May 18; this year it’s a month later. It’s surprising that Team Treacherous has scheduled that race for his aged campaign kickoff. Last year’s winner, Sweet Lou, had a start in a TVG leg prior to that race, and the second place finisher, Warrawee Needy, had the TVG leg and three WEG preferred races in him. It was the first start of the year for ARNRD, who finished out at 46/1 from the rail, and the same for Bolt The Duer, who shook free late and finished fourth. The Captain lays over his division and will probably win anyway but he will have allowed two TVG legs to pass, and a horse is required to race in half of them to qualify for the final. So, he will be required to race in four of the six remaining legs.

There are some nice opportunities for older trotters in June. The $200,000 Charlie Hill is in two weeks (June 7) at Scioto Downs. Nominations closed April 15. That track has a Mickey Mouse web site that doesn’t list the eligible, but the race will be restricted to the top ten bank accounts. The elimination round for the Armbro Flight is the previous day, so there’s not much chance of Maven or Bee taking on the boys in the Hill, but this race fills a space in the calendar for the open trotters so it should draw well. Will Svanstedt try Sebastian on the 5/8 track? Probably not. It seems like they want to stick with the Meadowlands, with forays to Mohawk for the Maple Leaf and Lexington for the Allerage.

The top tier male sophomore trotters from 2013 haven’t contributed anything thus far. That being the case, it was nice to see Creatine qualify for Mike Lachance today at the Meadowlands. The Andover Hall stallion, who won a heat of the Hambletonion, finished up his three-year-old campaign on a high note with a second place finish to Spider Blue Chip in the BC and a win over that one in the $300,000 (almost) Erskine. And prior to that he won a split of the Bluegrass as well as the Kentucky Futurity. Bee has stolen the spotlight from her male classmates. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait until the Hambletonion Maturity on July 5 to see RFL, SBC and friends in action. Last year Guccio, My MVP, Knows Nothing and Goo were all in the TVG top ten after the Cutler, while this year Possessed Fashion, who finished out at 99/1, was the only four-year-old starter in the Cutler final. Last year the Meadowlands PR machine was pumping the TVG nonstop; this year they can’t be bothered posting the point totals for the participants on their web site.

He’s Watching won three times at Yonkers last year, including the $225,000 Night of Champions. Unlike many high profile sophomores from the recent past, his connections don’t live in fear of the twice around. Heston Blue Chip—another NYSS wunderkind—and Michaels Power, were also willing to tackle the tight turns. That being the case, it makes perfect sense for Team Watching to begin the season in the Rooney, which offers a lot more dough than a split of the SBSW. The Rooney hasn’t exactly been a common stepping stone to the NA CUP: 2012 winner Pet Rock is the only starter from the last three editions to race in the Cup.

Some of Brian Sears regular drives in 2014 should include Bee A Magician, Royalty For Life, Beach Body, McWicked, Designed To Be, Somwherovrarainbow (some) and Vegas Vacation.

 Tetrick has Captaintreacherous, Market Share,  All Laid Out (some), Scream And Shout, Modern Family (some), I Luv The Nitelife (?), Somewherovrarainbow (some), Anndrovette, Shelliscape, Stevensville, Mach It So, Smilin Eli and Warrawee Needy.

Gingras has Father Patrick, Maven, Foiled Again, Southwind Spirit, Western Vintage, Lifetime Pursuit, DW’s NY Yank, Rocklamation, Summertime Lea and Hurrikane Kingcole (some).

David Miller has Uffizi Hanover, Arthur Blue Chip (some), Muscle Network, Shebestingin, Lucan Hanover, Mystery Woman and All Laid Out (some),

Ron Pierce has Shake It Cerry, Sweet Lou, Spider Blue Chip, Sunfire Blue Chip, Limelight Beach (some) and Frau Blucher (some).

Corey Callahan has Drop The Ball, Golden Receiver, Ma Chere Hall and Allstar Partner, among others. And John Campbell has Nuncio, Thinking Out Loud, Sunshine Beach, Sometimes Said, Cooler Schooner and Gallie Bythe Beach

Joe FitzGerald

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