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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Somebeachsomewhere Vs Muscle Hill

Somebeachsomewhere is showing definite signs of rebounding from an off year in 2014. Captaintreacherous did not live up to expectations; his top mare, Somwherovrarainbow, won the Matchmaker in the spring, but had no stakes wins after that. Sunshine Beach was a major disappointment. Limelight Beach did win the Jug, but he was up and down and far from the leader in his class.

Instead of getting it done with stars, the Mach Three stallion seems to be winning the earnings battle with a hundred little cuts. His three-year-olds are slightly ahead of perennial kingpins Bettor’s Delight and Rocknroll on the money list, and that’s with 40% fewer starters. And on the all-age list, he’s fourth behind Bettor’s Delight, Rocknroll and his daddy, with half as many starters as Bettor’s Delight, 57% as many as Rocknroll and 59% as many as his sire. The first crop by SBSW is now five years-olds. These numbers are very impressive.

The Pennsylvania Sire Stakes represents Beach’s bread and butter. Brian Brown’s Rise Up Now has won six in a row. After today’s defeat of matinee idol Wakizashi Hanover, he sits second to Wiggle It Jiggleit in 2015 class earnings—by only $2,600. Jimmy Takter’s Blood Brother won two of his last three. Parklane Eagle won in 1:52.1 in the Stallion Series yesterday. And Tony Alagna’s trading Up, who is out of a full sister to Levy winner Domethatagain, won a Stallion Series split in 1:52.2, in hand, at Harrah’s.

If you glance at the North America Cup Spring Book, you’ll see Artspeak, Reverend Hanover, In The Arsenal, Wiggle It Jiggleit, Go Daddy Go, Traceur Hanover etc., none of whom are by Somebeachsomewhere. So, the stars are still slow to come, but perhaps some of these colts and fillies laying in the weeds, loaded with potential, will make the leap. In the meantime, he’s filling up the bank quite nicely.

Muscle Hill, the media darling on the trotting side (sorry, Cantab), is a year younger than SBSW; his oldest are four year-olds this year. His all-age numbers can’t be compared to his pacing counterpart for that reason, and there are more opportunities for sophomore pacers in the first five months of the season than there are for trotters, so the three year-old numbers aren’t necessarily comparable, however, Muscle Hill is currently tenth on the sophomore list, and eighteenth on the all-age list.

While Somebeachsomewhere’s get feast on the $16 million available from the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, Muscle Hill, who now resides in that state, won’t escape the clutches of the New Jersey program, which weighs in at a paltry $2.7 million or so, for two more years.

Taking all of that into consideration, it seems that Muscle Hill is more a star driven stallion than Beach is. As good as he was, Captaintreacherous was on the receiving end of as much criticism as praise. He never broke through and enjoyed the unadulterated adoration reserved for the Belle of the 2015 Ball, Mission Brief. And Trixton, who followed a soft schedule to the Hambletonian, became something of a cult hero along the way, and sold right out as a stallion in godforsaken New Jersey.  EL Titan, who beat Patrick in the Erskine for Ron Pierce and Riina Rekila, is something of a hero north of the border.

Muscle Network, who set a world record of 1:53.2 winning the ISS at two, and went on to take the Valley Victory, was very highly regarded at three, but hasn’t fulfilled that promise. And Muscle Diamond, who won his ISS split two ticks slower and was second to Pinkman in last year’s Breeders Crown, is a favorite of many this year. At any given moment a handful of Muscle Hill’s seem to be bound for glory. But again, when it comes to diggin’ for dollars in the daily grind, Beach has him beat—for now, anyway.

Joe FitzGerald

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