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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Trotter/Horse of the Year Slipping Away?

After last night's miscue in the Yonkers International Preview, Sebastian K and his team are now at the cross roads.  While he may still win the Aged Trotter of the Year award, what was once a stroll towards his coronation as Trotter of the Year and possibly Horse of the Year is now questionable.

True, Sebastian K is not the first champion horse to be done in by those turns, but when you consider this was his third straight loss you have to wonder if going off stride was more than a half mile mishap; it is clear the champion trotter has lost his edge.  While the Swedish ex-pat dominated the first half of the racing season, he has been mortal as summer has rolled into fall.  Can you become Trotter/Horse of the Year based on early season success alone?  I don't think so.

Which brings Sebastian K's team to an interesting dilemma.  As reported by HRU, Ake Svendstadt is talking to the owners of Sebastian K regarding future plans for the 8 year old trotter.  If the decision is to come back as a 9 year old, it would appear we have seen the last of Sebastian K in 2014.  If they decide this is the last year of his racing, then Svanstedt will be willing to keep racing and finish the  trotter's career in the 2014 Breeders Crown.  A win in the Breeders Crown will put Sebastian K into contention for Trotter and Horse of the year, a defeat may make him more of an interesting footnote in American trotting.

Of course, there is more riding on the decision.  A Commander Crowe/Sebastian K battle in the Breeders Crown will make the Breeders Crown Open Trot THE match up of night two; the defection of either trotter will transform the race into just another stake race.  We should know more in the next couple of days.

Let's not take anything away from Natural Herbie, the Preview's winner.  While he may not have had the credentials many of the others have, but he has been racing hot at Hoosier Park in his last three starts for trainer/driver Verlin Yoder and deserved some attention.  I suspect we will hear more from this horse next year when he is staked to more FFA events

As we head towards the Breeders Crown, here are some interesting questions:

While it is a foregone conclusion that 3yo Trotting Colt of the Year is going to Jimmy Takter, will it be for Father Patrick or Nuncio?  It is obvious why Takter has tried to keep these two apart in most races, because they are clearly the best.  However, while Father Patrick would be the favorite for the award, what happens if Nuncio were to defeat him in the Breeders Crown?

Do we dare say Father Time is finally catching up with Foiled Again?  Yes, he just got nosed out in the Dayton Pacing Derby on Friday but the Foiled Again of the past would have been the one on the winning side of the photo.  Don't get me wrong, he is still a potent horse who will get his share of the purse money and an occasional win, but clearly he has lost a step.  Another question to be asked is if this will be his final year of racing?

Has Mcwicked peaked?  Mcwicked was hot early in the year but while his last couple of races hinted of a rebound, he was flat Saturday night in the Messenger Stakes, finishing 3rd.  I can understand him losing to All Bets Off who started right outside of him as he has been pretty hot himself, but the Mcwicked of old would have beaten Luck Be Withyou for second.  More importantly, he would have been eating up ground in the stretch instead of losing ground.

How impressive was Market Rally last night in the Hudson Filly Trot?  Forget how she and her stablemate Avalicious blew up not only themselves but the mutuel prices thanks to their miscues in the race, but what kind of performance did she give last night when being last, eight lengths behind at the quarter pole she brushed to have the lead before the half and carry it into the stretch when she paid the price for her miscue?  Often a horses best performance comes in defeat and last night will certainly go down as being pretty darn good.  This NYSS champion has earned a trip to the Breeders Crown and she may be one to watch in the 3yo filly trot.

How charmed is the Takter stable?  Not only did Nuncio win last night at Yonkers but up at Woodbine, the Takter stable benefited from some miscues and won the Goldsmith Maid with Smexi at $78.65-1.  In the Valley Victory, his entries finished 1-2.  Favorites, longshots it doesn't seem to matter.  I know it is the result of hard work, but it seems the stable is living a charmed life this season.

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