There are 30 pacers eligible to the Ben Franklin, which should commence with an elimination round on Saturday. Seven of the nine that raced in Saturday’s Molson Gold Cup are staked to it; winner Evenin Of Pleasure and fourth place finisher State Treasurer are not. Warrawee Needy, who scratched, is eligible. More important, Captaintreacherous, who won the Maturity the other night, is eligible, and apparently being pointed to the race. Sweet Lou, Bolt The Duer, Bettor’s Edge, Clear Vision and Apprentice Hanover are also paid up to the Franklin. The fact that The Captain will take on his elders for the first time as a four-year-old should serve as a serious draw.
Last year this race set the stage for the late season coronation of Foiled Again as King of the World and division champ. He set a world record of 1:48 for a gelding on a 5/8 track in the elimination round, then passed the five million dollar earnings threshold in the final. He also made it 70 wins for his career. Presently he’s on a four race losing streak, tasting nothing but defeat since early April. That notwithstanding, the Franklin is about Captain T vs Sweet Lou, who has won three in a row. Burke has five staked to the Franklin—17% of the nominees are his—so Lou and Foiled probably won’t be lonesome.
Trixton has been very impressive, and the discussion has entered a Father Patrick or Trixton phase. While the latter has plenty of experience beating up on quality competition, Trixton has been feasting on the Little Sisters of the Poor. That Goodtimes field was one of the worst ever assembled for what is supposed to be a top tier stakes race—grade three is more like it. The eliminations for the Beal are Saturday and we can assume the good Father and traveling companion Nuncio will be entered. Trixton isn’t staked to the Beal. And while Father Patrick is eligible to the Yonkers Trot, the oversized Trixton is not. The Beal final is June 28, and the next important start for that group will be the Stanley Dancer on July 12. That will probably mean four weeks off for Trixton, which may or may not enhance his chances of winning the Hambletonion with jimmy Takter sitting behind him.
The third leg of the TVG trotting series was cancelled due to lack of interest; the fourth is Friday. And while the supposed big guns in the division—Sebastian and Market Share—are entered, there are only five others. Modern Family, who recently beat Market Share in the Charlie Hill, is not. Creatine is the only four-year-old; Royalty For Life and Spider Blue Chip have qualified but they aren’t in the mix yet. The next leg of the TVG will be raced July 12. If an elimination round is necessary for the Maple Leaf Trot it will take place on the 11th—an obvious conflict. However, eliminations weren’t necessary in 2012 or 2013. The way things are going for the TVG an elimination night will probably be called for this year.
Bee is staked to the TVG, but off what we saw Saturday there’s no way that happens. And Maven, another nominee, has a Ms. Versatility leg to race in the day before the July 12th TVG leg; she needs to make up for the points she missed during her Elitlopp quest. Corky, Smilin Eli and Uncle Peter have all been racing in Europe. The latter may be back for the July leg. Intimidate and Mister Herbie are racing in the Mohawk preferred on Thursday instead of the TVG, while Daylon Magician and Undercover Strike go at Yonkers Friday. The Levy allocates 50 points to the winner of a leg and 25 to any horse that starts, regardless of where they finish. The TVG allocates 35 points to the winner of a leg and only four for seventh, two for eighth and 1 for others. A healthy allotment of show up points might convince some to give it a shot against Sebastian and Market Share.
On the pacing side, the next leg consists of the William Haughton elimination and final on July 5 and 12. Four-year-olds like Captaintreacherous, Apprentice Hanover, Sunshine Beach and Lucan Hanover are staked to the Haughton a well as the series. State Treasurer and Dapper Dude are other nominees that have yet to race in the TVG.
Royalty For Life qualified Saturday at Vernon. I imagine he’ll qualify again and race in the Hambletonion Maturity at a mile and an eighth two weeks from Saturday. Can’t see Bee going in that one, just as I can’t see her in the TVG, but Perfect Alliance belongs to M1 management so she may be entered. And Classic Martine just won the Armbro Flight, so she may also take on the boys. The better four-year-old boys are late to the track and the ones currently racing are a weak bunch, while these mares have been racing very well. Why not take a shot.
Three of the top four finishers in the NA Cup—winner JK Endofanera as well as Tellitlikeitis and McWicked—are staked to the Hempt, which should be holding eliminations on Saturday. During the 24 years from 1977 to 2000, when the Hempt was called the William Miller Memorial, only three winners also won the Pace—Beach Towel, Presidential Ball and Can’s Card Shark. And there were no duplicate winners during the first 11 years under the Max Hempt Memorial title. However, ARNRD won both in 2012 and The Captain did the same last year. Only four of the 22 colts in the three Hempt elimination splits last year came from the NA Cup final, and only four are eligible this year.
Super mile by Anndrovette in the Roses Are Red. It looked like Rainbow had her, just as it looked like Drop The Ball had her last year after one that one’s patented rushes, but the one-off champ by Riverboat King told those younger mares: not yet. She did lose seven of her eight starts after the Roses Are Red in 2013. She’s never won the Golden Girls, which is on July 10, or the Lady Liberty, which is August 2. Rainbow, Stingin, Drop The Ball and Rocklamation are all staked to both, as is 2012 Golden Girls winner, Rebeka Bayama. We’ll see if Anndrovette can take charge of mid-summer.
Ron Pierce didn’t have a particularly successful Cup Night: Luck Be Withyou carried him to a 7th place finish at 22/1 in the Cup itself; he was 4th in the Roses Are Red with Yagonnakissmeornot from the rail; 4th in the Mohawk Gold Cup with State Treasurer; 5th in the Fan Hanover with Fancy Desire; and 2nd with 19/1 shot Il Sogno Dream in the Goodtimes. Pierce went into the night with a healthy lead in the dollars and cents driver standings, only to see it evaporate at the hungry hands of Tim Tetrick.
Joe FitzGerald (@JAF3Joe)