For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Note for Our Canadian Readers

I am talking to you.  It would be nice if you were a harness racing 'only' fan, but we know a good number of you are planning to wager on the Breeders Cup this weekend.  Well, you are going to do what you want to do but if you are planning on playing the Breeders Cup races this weekend and live in Canada, consider this press release from the Horse Players Association of North America (HANA).

Keeneland's Breeders' Cup Takeout Is Arbitrarily Increased for Customers North of the Border

HANA Calls For Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, Woodbine to Respond to Customer Pricing Concerns
The Woodbine Entertainment Group, the entity which Canadian horseplayers, through live, OTB and Internet, wager on horse racing, has announced the betting menu for the 2015 Breeders' Cup has been significantly changed.

Takeout rates for the 19% trifecta, superfecta and pick 3 pools at Keeneland have been increased to 27%, place and show from 16% to 18%, and two horses exotics, super high 5, pick 4 and 5, from 19% to 20%. Only win and the pick 6 were left the same as the host track.

"Woodbine drew the ire of many this spring when they created a new pick 5 with 25% takeout, which was well above the industry standard of 15%. Now in the fall we see Breeders' Cup takeouts have been massively increased. We at the Horseplayers' Association of North America call on Woodbine and the Canadian Pari-mutuel Agency (CPMA) to address these issues. These are policies that are driving more and more horseplayers to other games of skill, further eroding horse racing's betting customer base, and hurting the entire industry," said Horseplayers Association of North America President Jeff Platt.

"According to their release, Woodbine said they are instituting this new measure in part because of "significant taxes" that are applied on wagers that are not seen in the US. The truth of the matter is, in Canada, and Ontario, only 0.5% of every dollar wagered goes to the provincial government, with 0.8% to the federal government. Simulcast deals made between Woodbine and horsemen groups which penalize horseplayers are on them, not on the customer, and should've been updated long ago to reflect the 21st century simulcast market," added Platt.

In Canada, horseplayers cannot patronize a competitor this weekend to escape the high takeouts and lower payoffs. Woodbine has a monopoly on pari-mutuel horse racing wagering in the country.

For more information please contact


Well, if you still plan to reward WEG for the gouging of the horseplayer on the Breeders Cup, good luck to you.  If, on the other hand you refuse to reward WEG for their actions,  let me offer you a few alternatives.  At Hoosier Park, you have a bundle of stakdes races tonight including a match up of Jiggle It Wiggleit and Freaky Feet Pete and on Saturday night, there are the two Kindergarten stakes races at Vernon Downs, the final RUS event of the season at Flamboro Downs, and Century Downs hosts the Alberta Sires Stakes.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Forest City Sale

The Forest City Sale at the Western Fair District in London, Ontario has mimicked the ups and downs of the harness racing game in that province for the last several years. In 2011, when the Ontario Sire Stakes program was humming along, 263 yearlings averaged more than $18,000. The following year, when the wheels started to fall off the cart, the average dropped more than 40% to $10,500. The fillies averaged only $8,000. As the doomsday scenario engineered by the politicians was reversed, things improved. In 2013 the average increased to $13,524, and last year it rose once more to $15,294. And this year it jumped again, to $23,207.

The number of yearlings offered has fallen off by close to half since 2011; that is what’s troubling. The fact that the top sale was a colt by Camluck, who passed in August at age 28, goes to the heart of the matter. His eight colts, a gelding and six fillies averaged $33,400. Eleven by new kid on the block, Big Jim, averaged just a thousand dollars more. There’s a dearth of new blood. The landscape will change dramatically in 2017, which is when first Ontario crops by Royalty For Life, Archangel, E L Titan, Betterthancheddar, Sunfire Blue Chip and Sunshine Beach hit the sales ring. There will also be another Bettor’s Delight crop available.

With Muscle Mass, Dewey, and Manofmanymissions having left the province, there’s a gap to fill. It’s going to take time to regenerate production. The Canadian dollar is weak and many breeders, horsemen and owners folded their tents during the equine recession.

The paucity of high end product is also an issue at this sale. Thirteen Kadabras sold at Lexington and twenty will be available in Harrisburg. Seven averaged $40,000 at the Canadian Yearling Sale, with fillies going for $70,000 and $72,000.  There weren’t any at Forest City. Eleven by Sportswriter sold at Lexington and ten will be for sale in Harrisburg. Four averaged $30,000 at the CYS. A pair sold for $8,000 each at Western Fair.

Sixteen-tear-old Mach Three has been very consistent over the years. Sixteen averaged $32,000 in 2011; seven averaged $28,000 the following year when the bottom caved and the gross was off by $2.1 million; 13 averaged $18,577 in 2013; another 13 averaged more than $31,000 last year; and ten averaged $34,600 this year. A dozen averaged more than $38,000 at the CYS. With the exception of 2013 he’s kept his average up in the $30,000 range. Mach Three has never come close to duplicating SBSW, a member of his second crop, and he keeps a low profile on the Grand Circuit, but the likes of Solar Sister, Wrangler Magic, Physicallyinclined and Mr Carrots keep sweeping up that OSS dough.

Shadow Play, who had a successful first crop featuring Arthur Blue Chip, Lady Shadow, Skippin By and Play It Again Sam, regressed somewhat his sophomore season, thanks in no small part to Sportswriter. But two-year-old Nvestment Bluechip  and three-year-olds Tessa Seelster and Cast No Shadow had good years in the OSS. He averaged $27,406 for 7 colts and 9 fillies sold at Forest City. A filly sold for 60 and another for 58. Eight averaged $30,000 at the CYS. His first crop averaged less than $12,000 in 2012; he made a big jump to $23,393 the following year; last year, as a result of his domination by Sportswriter in the OSS, he fell back 33% to $15,556.  Bettor’s Delight, Sportswriter and Mach Three are a problem for him.

Badlands Hanover keeps plugging away. The nineteen-year-old son of Western Hanover finished the year third overall in the OSS, with successful years from Ms Mac N Cheese, Semi Automatic and Free Show. His average dropped from $22,000 in 2011 to $12,000 in 2012 and $8,400 the following year. In 2014 he inched up to $9,200 for 14 sold, with a high of $25,000. This year he jumped 40% to $15,429 for 14 sold, again with a high of $25,000. His fee was reduced $1,500 to $3,500 in 2015.

Daylon Magician, who failed his fertility test in 2011 and has been back and forth, sold a colt for $65,000 and another for $50,000. Another colt brought $9,000 at the CYS. He bred 31 mares two years ago with limited success. None sold at the Canadian Yearling Sale or Lexington Selected. And none will sell in Harrisburg. He’s the best son of Kadabra, who has produced no siring sons. Tara Hills Stud, which stands Daylon, when his off and on breeding career is on, as well as Kadabra, Sportswriter and Mach Three, said their breeding numbers were off by half in 2013. That is showing up at this year’s sales.

Big Jim’s first crop was ok; his fillies finished fourth in the OSS and his colts eighth. Four of the eleven he sold at Forest City topped $50,000. His $34,355 average was almost double what it was last year for that first crop. At that time 78% of his Forest City offering failed to top $15,000, and only one topped $25,000. This time nine of the eleven beat $15,000 and a half dozen topped $25,000. Only two sold at the Canadian Yearling Sale, a filly for $29,000 and a gelding for $3,500.

The trotting sires represented at the sale didn’t stand out. The lone exception was Manofmanymissions, the sire of Bluegrass and ISS winner, Celebrity Eventsy. He stood in Ontario for two years, before relocating to Ohio. This is his last Ontario crop. A half dozen averaged $30,750, with a high of $63,000 and all but one topping $20,000.

Joe FitrzGerald

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Late to the Party but Better Later Than Never

*It took a long time, but finally the FSBOA has joined United Florida Horsemen and the No Decoupling Campaign as the threat of the Florida legislature's approval of Decoupling ( the elimination of the requirement of racinos to have live racing) grows.

Here is the press release:

NoDecoupling Masthead Standardbred
Harness Driver
"Our established businesses and employees should be more important to Florida than out-of-state companies lured with taxpayer funds that--more often than not--don't fulfill their job creation promises," Florida's Harness Horsemen say.  "It's time Florida recognize us as voters, taxpayers, citizens and businesspeople worth keeping."

Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association Joins

With marketing resources, fan-friendly facilities and competitive opportunities for harness horsemen seemingly disappearing by the day in Florida, theFlorida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association (FSBOA) joined the campaign this week to further solidify horsemen's unified voice in state-level legislative issues. comprises the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association, the Florida Quarter Horse Breeders' and Owners Association and their respective national "parents," the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, the American Quarter Horse Association and now, U.S. Trotting. Altogether, represents over 350,000 horsemen nationwide and over 10,000 in Florida alone.
Voraciously passionate about their sport, Florida's harness horsemen are frustrated and tired of being pigeonholed, where the ability for established patrons and potential fans to watch and enjoy harness racing has literally been cordoned off to such a tight and unpleasant space that horsemen are losing hope of creating or even maintaining their audience in Florida.
"If decoupling passes, harness racing in Florida would likely be headed toward extinction," FSBOA President and Executive Director Joe Pennacchio predicts. "Book it."
What people say about harness racing and what the harness horsemen see are two different things. The presumption that decoupling is a "done deal." The insistence that harness racing is dying while, in reality, virtually every aspect of horsemen's once-thriving business seems to have been maneuvered into hopelessness.
"Across South Florida, shiny new casinos beckon slot machine players with air conditioning, service and new amenities, while harness racing fans must sweat it out with no shelter and bare-bones amenities," Pennacchio explains. "Some casino facility owners seem to be already preparing for decoupling by making customers' pari-mutuel experience as miserable as possible. It's not exactly an equation that helps to grow, much less restore a market."
"Our established businesses and employees should be more important to Florida than out-of-state companies lured with taxpayer funds that--more often than not--don't fulfill their job creation promises," Pennacchio adds. "It's time Florida recognize our horsemen as voters, taxpayers, citizens and businesspeople worth keeping."
Known as "Standardbreds," harness racing horses descend from Colonial times before automobiles when the spirit of competition would strike two horse and buggy drivers in transit. Much like drag racers give the classic "thumbs up," the drivers of yesteryear would enjoy an impromptu matchup. Soon, the buggy races became organized and the sport of Standardbred or "harness" racing began.
Although their style is all different, it's horsemen's love of the sport and their animals that bonds Florida's Thoroughbred, American Quarter Horse and Standardbred owners, trainers and breeders. On the business side, their futures are inextricably linked in the complex wagering world of Interstate and Inter-Track Simulcasting.
The campaign seeks to educate Florida Legislators about how horse racing of all kinds provides greater and more extensive economic impact than stand-alone casinos, particularly because of the cost and labor involved in training and maintaining a racehorse. Decoupling would immediately decrease purses, making Florida the loser against other, more horse racing-friendly states that recognize the sport's superior economic benefits.

As you can see, standardbred racing is so poorly known in Florida, the press release needed to explain what harness racing racing is.  There is no sense in rehashing why the FSBOA didn't join with the UFH coalition until now; it is better late than never. With only one venue in Florida, decoupling slots with racing at Pompano Park would be the end of the sport in Florida, likely closing up the multiple training facilities (shame on anyone who would winter train in a state where the sport had been killed off).

You may be asking why should you care about what goes on Florida?  The moment decoupling were to occur in a state such as the home to Gulfstream, Hialeah, and Tampa Downs, casino companies owning harness and thoroughbred tracks will have their lobbyists beating down the door in other racing legislatures to decouple racing there.

It is good to see the USTA get involved in this battle, but it would be helpful if other horsemen groups of various breeds were to look past their parochial interests and consider the interests of Florida horsemen their own.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Kentucky Racing and State Cutbacks

Kentucky has issued harness dates for 2016 and The Red Mile, even with Instant Racing days will have its usual 32 days of racing, including the two week Grand Circuit Meet.  In addition, Bluegrass Downs has been given a total of 15 days.  A robust (note sarcasm) of 47 days of harness racing in Kentucky.

But wait, Thunder Ridge has been given 21 conditional race dates assuming it can pay its debts to three of Kentucky's thoroughbred tracks or explain to the commission how it plans to repay it.  Astute followers of Kentucky racing, know this year's meet was to be the final year of racing in Prestonburg as their license was to be sold to Keenland for a quarter horse track; a deal which has not closed yet.  Of course, the deal can be finalized which makes issuing harness dates to Thunder Ridge moot.

The one amusing thing at this meeting was the commissions concern that it costs more to regulate a day or racing at Thunder Ridge than is wagered, assuming anyone wagers on the day's card.  Did they only realize it now?   After all Thunder Ridge is the only track a $2(a day) bettor would be considered a whale.  While I realize harness horsemen need all the racing dates they can in Kentucky, how the KHRC has allowed Thunder Ridge to operate as long as it has is bewildering.

States are demanding racing pick up more of its own costs instead of the state paying the expenses.  In New York State, the state will no longer pay for drug testing of claimed horses, an expense of  $150 per horse each time they are claimed.  If successful claimants want a horse tested for drugs, they will need to shoulder the cost.  While this should not be problematic for horsemen racing at Yonkers, the $150 expense may be a deterrent for testing at the upstate tracks in the bottom classes as horsemen may skip the testing since they operate on such a thin margin.  What's important about testing claimed horses?  A successful claimant may void the claim should a horse come up positive.

Passing on the cost of drug testing from the state to the tracks is what is behind the threatened shut down of horse racing in Pennsylvania.  As the state is in the middle of a budget impasse, the fund which regulates racing will run out as the state annually pays $20 million in expenses but receives on $11 million from racing; the $9 million gap is what is spend on drug testing.  If an agreement with the tracks to take over the cost is not reached by the end of the week, the PHRC is planning on issuing a notice of shutdown on Friday.   In addition, there is legislation working its way through the legislature which will require racing to pay for its own drug testing.

Some other notes and observations:  It is reported no one from the Meadowlands management was a t the Breeders Crown this past weekend.  While there is no requirement someone must attend, it is a bad visual if no one from East Rutherford was in attendance.  What a great story coming out of the Breeders Crown with Jimmy Takter winning six of the twelve crown races.  Unfortunately, as good as this was for Team Takter, it also highlights the problem in racing with not enough owners in the sport which would result in horses being handed over to other conditioners.  With more owners, other qualified trainers may have a chance to go against the Takter juggernaut.  We have been following how Share The Delight's off-spring have performed in the United Kingdom and Ireland.  Unfortunately, it seem Share The Delight  has not succeeded in the stallion shed up to now.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Jimmy & Christina Takter Have a Problem ...

by Peter Lawrence, VFTRG Contributor

... a problem any standardbred owner or trainer would be thrilled to have.
Where to put all the blankets?
Some years ago, they - or the grooms, or an assistant trainer - established a tradition, a tradition of displaying blankets from big races won on the lawn in front of the Takter homestead in East Windsor, N.J.
The blankets are draped over a statue of a horse and an accompanying high-wheeled sulky, stay on display for a few days (or until it rains, I guess), and are especially striking when they're out there in multiples.
Hambletonian and Hambo Oaks last year, Hambo and Hambo Oaks THIS year, Kentucky Futurity and Futurity Filly this year - Pinkman and Wild Honey in Lexington (as well as earlier at Meadowlands) - shown here, photographed about two weeks ago.
But what Team Takter pulled off Saturday night in the Breeders Crown at Woodbine is unprecedented.
Six winning Crowns!
Pure Country in the 2YO filly pace, All The Time in the 2YO filly trot, Wild Honey in the 3YO filly trot, The Bank (upsetting Pinkman) in the 3YO colt trot, followed by a sweep of the free-for-all trot and pace with, respectively, Creatine - driven by visiting brother Johnny Takter - and Always B. Miki.
Talk about an embarrassment of riches.
And now where do you display half a dozen blankets?
The Takter brain trust has expanded its "barn area" with new stalls over the course of the past few years, to allow for more horse capacity.
(I think it's currently about 80.)
Now, it may be time to install a few more horse statues and sulkies on the front lawn for the blankets.
P.S. - Do race organizers and sponsors know that the fancy winner's circle blankets they award rarely stay on the horses very long, and susequently often never touch horses' hides again? Sometimes, if the grooms get to keep the blankets, they become treasured bedspreads.
PPS - Christina Takter came up with a novel use for those blankets a couple of years ago at her big birthday bash. Following dinner, after sunset, was a private fireworks display by the estate's lake, near the house. It was getting quite cool by then (September, I think), and guests each grabbed a blanket from a stack to keep warm.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

How Did The Breeders Crown Influence The Division Races?

Obviously the top story to come out of Saturday’s Breeders Crown races was the record six wins by Jimmy Takter and the five by David Miller. The former added more than $2 million to his earnings total, while Miller added a million dollars. Takter, who won three BC races last year, increased his all-time series leading total to 27, while David Miller, who was shut out in 2014, remains in fifth place with 19 wins.

The fact that all-time leader John Campbell got his forty-eighth win in the series with Wild Honey is also significant. Campbell now leads Ron Pierce by eighteen. He captured a pair last year with Shelliscape and Thinking Out Loud.

There wasn’t much left for the rest when Takter and Miller got through: several trainers had one each, including Ron Burke, who got two in 2014. Gingras, who won four races last year, won two, and five other drivers took one each.

Several of these races had a marked impact on the quest for division honors. Jimmy Takter’s SBSW filly Pure Country and Bob McIntosh’s Bettor’s Delight filly, LA Delight, have only one loss between them; both won their respective sire stakes championships and they each have a few GC wins. Pure Country’s impressive 1:51.4 BC win gives her an edge though. Combine that with a pair of wins in Lexington, and the fact that she’s staked to the Three Diamonds and the Matron, and it looks like she has a clear path to the title. Prior to the BC LA Delight, who called it a year after her Super Final win, was ahead by $143,000 in the earnings column, but the SBSW filly is now up by almost $153,000. A win for Pure Country in either the Three Diamonds or Matron should secure the Dan Patch.

Control The Moment, who like LA Delight has only raced in Canada and was undefeated entering the BC, with wins in the Metro and Nassagaweya, lost any edge he had in a muddled race for freshman pacing honors with his sixth place finish in that BC division, won by longshot Boston Red Rocks. This one should come down to the remaining races on the calendar. Control The Moment is not staked to the Monument Circle, Governor’s Cup or Matron. The latter can be supplemented to for $20,000. Boston Red Rocks is eligible to the Governor’s Cup. The Alagna pair, American Passport and Racing Hill, are both staked to the Governor’s Cup and the Matron.

Southwind Frank, who won his eleventh in twelve starts with another 1/9 romp, will be the Dan Patch winner among the freshman trotting colts.

Things aren’t so simple with the first year trotting fillies. Broadway Donna, who entered her BC elimination with wins in the Doherty, Bluegrass and PA Championship, and had a perfect record to boot, was poised for a coronation, but she failed to advance to the final. If not her the thought was it would be Tony Alagna’s Kadabra filly, Caprice Hill, who won the Peaceful Way, Champlain and OSS Super final. But she fell short in her elimination and the final. Takter’s Muscle Hill filly, All The Time, engineered big wins in both, while his Donato filly, Haughty, was second best. All but Caprice Hill are staked to the Goldsmith Maid. Broadway Donna is the only one eligible to the Matron. The jury is still out on this one, but All The Time looks like the best at this point. Not that it always matters.

Joe Holloway’s relentless RNR Heaven filly Divine Caroline, who only won once in 11 tries at two, probably won the division for herself on Saturday night. Timing is everything and within the past few weeks she took splits of the Bluegrass and Garnsey as well as the BC. Others in the division, like Sassa Hanover, Stacia Hanover, Wrangler Magic and Caroline’s stablemate Bettor Be Steppin, have had their moments in the Sun, but Divine Caroline has taken control at the right time. She’s staked to Friday’s $100,000 USS Indianapolis at Hoosier Park and the Matron. Holloway said she will race in the latter and at The Meadowlands.

Wiggle It Jiggleit, who was not supplemented to the BC, won a split of the Circle City at Hosier Park on Friday. The Jug and Pace winner will take his division.

Wild Honey, who beat Mission Brief off a pocket trip in the KY Filly Futurity, beat her again in the BC, when the Muscle Hill star galloped to the center of the track while leading in the stretch. With wins in the BC, Oaks, Filly Futurity and Bluegrass the little Cantab Hall filly clearly deserves to win that division. Both fillies are staked to the Matron, and as the winner of the BC, Oaks and Filly Futurity, Wild Honey qualifies to be added to the TVG Mare Final. Takter stated definitively that his filly should win the division.

Pinkman was picked up by stablemate The Bank in the BC, but the winner of the Hambletonian, Kentucky Futurity and CTC, will win his division.

Bee A Magician beat the boys in the Maple Leaf, Centaur, Cutler and Charlie Hill, and also won the Armbro Flight. She chose to try them again in the BC Open, but finished fourth. Prior to that she was sixth in the Yonkers International. Throughout most of the season it’s been a given that BAM would win the Dan Patch, but the repatriated Donato Hanover mare, D’One, is clouding the picture. She won the Open Mare BC on Saturday, and prior to that she won the Allerage Mare, which BAM did not compete in, and she beat BAM in the Fresh Yankee at The Meadowlands and the Muscle Hill at Vernon Downs. Trainer Roger Walmann said D’One will start in the TVG Mare, which Bee A Magician is also eligible to.

The aged male trotters are by far the softest division in harness racing. You can’t give the Dan Patch to BC winner Creatine, who has that one BC win since returning from Europe. JL Cruze was good early, but fell to pieces when the four-year-old restricted races came to a close. He has no open stakes wins outside that class. Resolve won the Vincennes. I don’t think so. Luminosity has 14 wins, primarily in the Yonkers open. No. Skip it this year, I guess.

Venus Delight, who has wins in the BC Matchmaker, Artiscape and Milton, and has amassed a bankroll of over $500,000--$140,000 more than second place Anndrovette—had an opportunity to win the division in the BC, but she finished third from the nine post for Jason Bartlett. Last year’s sophomore division winner Color’s A Virgin won from the rail. The latter has had a disappointing year, but she took the Allerage Mare over a very short field a couple of weeks ago and now she has the BC win that eluded her last year. She still only has about half as much money as Venus Delight, but if Color’s A Virgin wins the TVG Mare Pace, she’s in the running for division honors.

Between August 8, when he won the USPC, and October 2, when he took the Dayton Pacing Derby by five lengths, State Treasurer was in Sweet Lou 2014 territory—he lorded it over the division. The notion that he would not win the Dan Patch was too outrageous to even contemplate. Then he faded to seventh in the Allerage, beaten by JK Endofanera, and was crushed by late season arrival Always B Miki in the BC elimination and final. The latter is eligible to Friday’s Hoosier Pacing Derby; State Treasurer is not. If Miki was also eligible to the TVG final he’d have a chance to take down the six-year-old son of Real Desire, but he is not. After Friday’s race, opportunities to make up ground on State Treasurer will be few and far between.

Joe FitzGerald

Friday, October 23, 2015

PA Racing Shut Down?

Due to a budget impasse, unless racing agrees to take over the costs of drug testing (roughly $9 million) within a week, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf has threatened to shut down racing in the Keystone State next week.  Part of this is a result of the budget impasse, part of this is due to wagering's continued decline meaning the cost of keeping racing going is more than what the state takes in with regards to taxes.

Wagering has dropped 71% since 2001 in Pennsylvania so the state has every right to be frustrated as the PHRC has been propped up by the state on numerous occasions.  Let's face it, wagering on horse racing has declined  nationally, and while gaming interests who now operate the racinos have little interest in increasing wagering, the fact the state has the largest rake certainly increases the decline..

Tomorrow is Breeders Crown night.  Unfortunately, news of the Breeders Crown is already being overshadowed by the thoroughbred's Breeders Cup as news of pre-entries become known.  But there are tie racsess which matter to those in Maine.,

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Breeders Crown Picks

With the Breeders Crown races being contested this Saturday at Woodbine Racetrack (6:30 Post), it is time for me to once again take out the handicapping pencil and make my selections for the 13 race card (the last race is a twelve horse overnight for the Jackpot Hi-5 wager).

Admittedly, my selections are looking at higher priced options.  However, with the big money on the line some upsets figure to loom.  The key is to find the right horse at the right price.  Hoping to do so with some of these selections.  As always, these selections are my initial picks but may vary depending on the actual race time odds.

1st - Breeders Crown Open Mare Trot (Post Time 6:30pm)
8 - Daylon Miracle (B. Miller, 15-1) - Last two are tosses.  Can shock with an aggressive drive here.
6 - D'One (D. Miller, 7-5) - The best of the field but not my pick at these odds.
2 - Harley Momma (Zeron, 15-1) - Only one win this year but can suck along and land on ticket.
5 - Bax Of Life (Christoforou, 15-1) - Finished third with horrible trip at Lex.  A better trip completes the ticket.

2nd - Breeders Crown 2yo Filly Pace
1 - Darlinonthebeach (D. Miller, 5-1) - Finished second in her elim.  Can control from the rail.
3 - Pure Country (B. Miller, 2-5) - A perfect 9 for 9 this year.  Again, low odds makes her unplayable,
4 - Lyons River Pride (Sears, 15-1) - Been in the money with #3 in last two starts.  Why not again?
5 - Yankee Moonshine (Gingras, 6-1) - Elim winner finished second to #3 at Lexington.

3rd - Breeders Crown 2yo Collt and Gelding Trot
9 - Milligans School (A. Miller, 15-1) - Won two at Lexington.  Chalking up last effort as a possible fluke.
5 - Southwind Frank (Gingras, 2-5) - A likely winner but for this type of money, looking for someone to rough this one up.
6 - Lagerfeld (Jo. Takter, 4-1) - Ever so consistent to land in money.  No reason to suspect otherwise.
4 - Sliding Home (D. Miller, 15-1) - With inside post this one may make the ticket.

4th - Breeders Crown 3yo Filly Pace
1 - Divine  Caroline (D Miller, 2-1) - Looking to make it four straight tonight.
2 - Bettor Be Steppin (Callahan, 9-2) - Bad trip in last.  Looking for better luck here.
3 - Solar Sister (McNair, 7-2) - Elim winner should return with another good effort.
4 - Bedroomconfessions (Ti. Tetrick, 4-1) - Finished second after bad trip.  Any trip should have her in the money.

5th - Breeders Crown 2yo Filly Trot
3 - Womans Will (A. Miller, 12-1) - Toss elimination.  Chance off of two solid Lex efforts.  Taking a stab here.
7 - Kathy Parker (Jo. Takter, 12-1) - No doubt tailing off but may have enough to land second.
5 - Haughty (Palone, 3-1) - Winner of three straight; may improve rating
4 - All The Time (Gingras, 7-5) - Winner of her elimination.  Still think the odds too low.

6th - Breeders Crown 3yo Filly Trot                               
3 - Wild Hone (Campbell, 7-5) - KY Filly Futurity set to repeat.
7 - Mission Brief (Gingras, 2-5) - Finished second to top choice.  Not at these odds.
4 - Speak To Me (B. Miller, 20-1) - Buckette winner can finish on ticket behind top choices.
2 - Classical Annie (Merriman, 30-1) -  Toss last.  May finish in top fourth.

7th - Breeders Crown 2yo Colt and Gelding Pace
  5 - American Passport (Zeron, 10-1) - Won three straight before last.  Possibly acclimated.
  1 - Racing Hill (B. Miller, 2-1) - Winner of last three starts.  Must respect.
10 - Talk Show (Callahan, 30-1) - Saddled with horrible post.  May spice of trifecta tickets.
  2 - Spider Man Hanover (D. Miller, 6-1) - Been racing well.  Possibly better rating.

8th - Breeders Crown 3yo Colt and Gelding Trot 
1 - Pinkman (Gingras, 3-5) - Just don't see someone defeating this top trotter.
4 - Muscle Diamond (Campbell, 9-2) - Grabs second with any type of trip.
6 - French Laundry (B. Miller, 5-1) - Seems to have woken up.  Lands share.
7 - Crescent Fashion (Zeron, 12-1) - Consistent all year.  No reason to suspect otherise.

9th - Breeders Crown 3yo Colt and Gelding Pace
  4 - Freaky Feet Pete (Tr. Tetrick, 9-5) - Has never been better.  Likely winner
10 - Artistic MMajor (Kakaley, 20-1) - Set up perfectly if you get a speed duel set up front.
  5 - Artspeak (Zeron, 3-1) - Son of Western Ideal has flexibility to win on or off the pace.
  3 - Wakizashi Hanover (Ti. Tetrick, 5-2) - Can't ignore.  Improve rating at higher odds.

10th - Breeders Crown Open Mares Pace
1 - Colors A Virgin (D. Miller, 10-1) - Allerage looks to repeat.  Draws rail.
2 -  Sandbetweenurtoes (Filion, 6-1) - Flamboro winner draws well.  Needs break in trip.
3 - Skippin By (Waples, 12-1) - Just missed against top choice.
9 - Venus Delight (Bartlett, 3-1) - Milton winner freshened.  Post may be the difference.

11th - Breeders Crown Open Trot
6 - Creatine (Jo Takter, 4-1) - Faltered against severe pressure in International.  Should bounce back.
3 - Gural Hanover (Kakaley, 15-1) - Last shows improvement.  Threat with trip.
7 - Master of Law (B. Miller, 8-1) - Good effort in last.  Figures to land share.
4 - Bee A Magician (Sears, 2-1) - Tough trip against open trotters in last.  Admittedly may improve selection here.

12th - Breeders Crown Open Pace 
3 -Always B Miki (D. Miller, 4-5) - Appears unbeatable.
2 - Mach It So (Ti. Tetrick, 12-1) - Will be a factor with a trip.
4 -Foiled Again (Gingras, 6-1) - Does the veteran have another win in him?  Never say never.
5 - Bettors Edge (Sears, 12-1) - Burke trainee figures to land share.

13th - Non-winners $8,000 last 5 or non-winners $18,000 last 10 starts.  AE Opt $25K claimers; nw $10,000 in 2015
  9 - WEb Cam (Gingras, 10-1) - Returns an improved horse.  Only one with consistent lines. Why not at a price?
  4 - Thepaninsulahotel (Christoforou, 7-1) - Bad trip in last and drops down.  Competitive here.
  8 - Carracci Hanover (Baillargeon, 6-1) - Quit in last.  May improve with a trip..
10 - Monte Cristo (Jamieson, 15-1) - Hard to gauge where he belongs.  Is this the spot?
11 - Curious Phoenix (Ja. Macdonald, 5-1) - Definite contender here.  Second tier drops him down in rankings.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

RIP to Ole Bach ...

by Peter Lawrence, VFTRG Contributor
Lots of people have lots of memories about the late horseman and bloodstock agent Ole Bach, who passed away recently in a freak pedestrian traffic accident in Lexington, Kentucky.
Most of the stories told last week at Ole's funeral and memorial are probably better and more amusing than mine, told by friends who knew him better than I did, but a few brushes with Ole come to mind.
I met him when he was training for Per Eriksson in 1985, the year Prakas won the Hambletonian, the Breeders Crown and lots of other big races.
The very next year, Ole was with Per Henriksen when that Per won the Hambo with Nuclear Kosmos.
Much later, in 2011, it was yet another Hambletonian Day, this time Broad Bahn's victory. I believe Ole, a bloodstock agent by that time, decked out in a jacket and tie that afternoon, had picked out Broad Bahn for Danish interests - Ole was Danish - and he was as happy as a little kid that day in the winner's circle.
Finally, there were two different instances connected with Sweden's transplanted star trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt.
Opening night at the new Meadowlands almost three years ago.
"There's two people here you're going to want to know," Ole said. "Meet Ake and Sarah Svanstedt." And we all shared pleasantries for a few minutes.
Finally, the following spring, in April or so, I visited Svanstedt's newly purchased Legends Farm near Fort Dix here in New Jersey. There were only a handful of horses on the grounds - one was the great Sebastian K., who hadn't qualified yet - with the bulk of the stable still with Ake in Florida.
I'm looking around, and who's the greeting committee? Son of a gun, it was Ole, who was there helping to set the farm up with Ake's assistant Bernie Noren.
"Let me show you around," said Ole, who was as helpful and accomodating as always (and it wasn't even his farm).
Those attributes were his calling card.
And speaking of calling card, I've had one of Ole Bach's business cards in my pocket for several years. Two cards, in fact, for some reason. One is pictured here.

Over the years, it seemed like Ole was everywhere, shaking hands, introducing people to new people, making phone calls, making deals.
Ole Bach was a go-getter, a hustler in the best sense of the word.
I'll miss him. And friends and family who knew him better than I did will surely miss him even more.
Rest in peace, Ole

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Saturday Morning Massacre

Once again, the horseplayer lost out as the Indiana Horse Racing Commission has committed its own version of the Saturday Night Massacre (okay, it was a Saturday Morning Massacre) to Saturday's ago by firing the commission's Executive Director Joe Gorajec after twenty five years on the job.  The firing which was largely anticipated came to being on a Saturday morning in the commission's own office instead of its usual meeting place under the guise of 'an executive session and business meeting'.  What was supposedly a meeting turned out to basically be a virtual execution.  I am not the only one who feels this way as evidenced by this column from the Paulick Report.

While the IHRC claimed they wanted an Executive Director who promoted horse racing, not just someone who handed down justice to rule breakers, speculations abounds Gorajec's departure was either engineered by the Governor and/or following complaints from horsemen objecting to Gorajec's no-nonsense approach in enforcing the rules. 

Note to the IHRC:  With respect to promoting racing to horseplayers, you just fired the best reason to play Indiana racing of all breeds, a no-nonsense enforcer of the rules who had no problem coming down hard on cheats and people found guilty of violating racing rules.  By firing Gorajec, you just relegated Indiana racing to the back bench with other states who 'speak loudly and carry a light stick'; ready to hand down compromise decisions in order to expedite the handling of infractions.  Whatever perception Indiana horse racing had as being tough on cheats has gotten thrown out the window.   

Promoting horse racing?  If you can name more than a handful of states which actively promote horse racing, I would be surprised.  Racing commissions are regulators and quite honestly, are mouthpieces to the movers and shakers in horse racing in each state.  In most states, other than the token effort to promote racing, the commission basically represents the interests of the breeders, horsemen, and racetracks.  Hence, I find the argument the commission wanted an executive director to market the sport disingenuous.

Make no mistake, there are horsemen and veterinarians involved in the various breeds of racing who are happy to see Gorjac gone.  Of course, those who play by the rules find their position weakened as a result of his termination.

So horseplayers, you are on notice.  The IHRC has sent you a message.  Odds are you're not liking it.

The Meadowlands Unveils 2016 Plans

Update:  The SBOANJ is not happy with the proposed Meadowlands schedule.  They will be meeting with track officials shortly.

The Meadowlands has announced plans for the majority of the 2016 harness racing season.  As previously announced, there will be no Thursday night racing this year; each week racing will be limited to Friday and Saturday nights, the exception being Hambletonian Day which will have its typical daytime card.

Racing begins January 6 and concludes August 6 which is the day of the Hambletonian.  Unlike previous years, there will be no late closing series during January and February; dedicating the first two months to overnight racing.  This lack of late closing series is a welcome relief as they have become unplayable events.  The Meadowlands will card additional races on a nightly basis provided there is a demand at the entry box from trainers looking to get their horses raced in the winter.

There will be a short three week meet in September geared towards baby racing, two year olds who may not have been ready early enough to compete in the major stakes races but ready to begin strutting their stuff.  A unique feature will be Friday night mixed meet racing with standardbreds on the main track and the runners on the turf course.  Of course, the question is what will happen if it rains as this fall's thoroughbred turf meet has been subject to cancellations due to rain as in previous years.  Unless the runners will run on the turf course when the turf is soft, Friday nights may result in brief racing cards.

Since the September meet is a mixed meet, it would be a good time to have a RUS series, assuming the hurdles presented by some who seek to block parimutuel racing under saddle under a standardbred permit.  Hopefully hurdles may be overcome to allow such a series to take place.

As for the 2016 fall meet, a starting date has not yet been decided upon but it may start as early as October 21 to allow for warmer weather during the early part of the meet; in particular for the Breeders Crown.

Of course, the 2015 fall meet is just around the corner with an opening night of November 13 and a closing night of December 26 with the highlight of the fall meet falling on the weekend of November 20-21 as the TVG series finals and early closers such as the Valley Victory, Governors Cup, Goldsmith Maid, Three Diamonds, Tarport Hap and Continental Victory are set to be raced.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Breeders Crown Eliminations

There were 13 Breeders Crown eliminations on Friday and Saturday at Woodbine. That’s the same number that were needed last year at The Meadowlands. The last time Woodbine hosted the Crown in 2012 there were only 11 elimination races; the following year at Pocono Downs 18 were required. Yannick Gingras won four this year, followed by Brett and David Miller with two each. Palone, Waples, Trace Tetrick, McNair and Scott Zeron each took one. Four starters from the Takter Barn won; he went on to win three finals last year. Three winners for Burke, two for Alagna and one each for Rheinheimer, McNair and Holloway. Jimmy Takter will have 13 entered in the finals, while Ron Burke will have 10.

Indiana stole the show as Always B Miki and Freaky Feet Pete, sons of that state’s premier stallions, Always A Virgin and Rockin Image, wowed the crowd with a pair of 49.4 miles. Miki had only one 2015 start in him, an Indiana Sire Stakes crush job, but that didn’t stop the bettors from sending him out as the 2/5 favorite. And he didn’t disappoint. Pete, on the other hand, has been pounding the ISS set throughout the season. He did lose to the only two GC quality horses he faced, Wiggle It Jiggleit and Wakizashi Hanover. Pete, the 4/5 choice, came first up and rolled OSS champ Reverend Hanover, who was the 6/5 second option for his hometown fans.

Miki supplemented to this race last year and won his elimination, but he scratched out of the final. His paternal sister, division winner Color’s A Virgin, was also poised to give her young sire his first BC win, but she was too far back and never factored in the final. The latter has had a disappointing year, but she did beat a short field in the Allerage Mare last time out and she has drawn the rail for the BC open mare. Limelight Beach, the other 2014 elimination winner, also scratched out of last year’s final. McWicked won the race and subsequently the division. This year’s edition should prove to be a better race.

Atrspeak showed the sort of closing kick that should give the connections of every rival pause, when he swooped home in 26 to nip Waki at the wire in the second elimination. Wiggle, Waki and Artspeak are all staked to the Matron on November 12 and the Progress Pace on November 29, both at Dover Downs. Freaky Feet Pete can supplement to those races for $25,000 each. That would certainly make Marv Bachrad a happy man. Casie Coleman sewed up McWicked’s 2014 division win when she supplemented him to the Progress, which he won for David Miller.

The freshman colt pacers are a quiet group. There is no Captain T or Artspeak in that division. The latter had been shut down prior to last year’s BC, which was held a month later, leaving the race to outsider Traceur Hanover and his controversial trainer Corey Johnson. This edition is without the tension that existed between Jeff Gural and Johnson, who was allowed to race despite having received an indefinite suspension for a positive in Ontario. PJ Fraley, the trainer of Shelliscape, was also an issue.

Freshman pacer Control The Moment (Well Said) is undefeated but has been kept under wraps in Canada and rarely been tested. He was lucky to escape his elimination with a win. Star attraction Travel Playlist followed up a poor showing in Lexington with another in his elimination and has been scratched from the final. On the filly side, LA Delight wasn’t nominated to the BC, so there will be no face-off with Takter’s undefeated SBSW filly, Pure Country. The latter was a handy winner of her elimination Friday night. Burke’s Yankee Moonshine, a full sister to Yankee Bounty, won the other elimination.

Southwind Frank dispatched the opposition with the same measure of surgical precision he’s employed all season in his Friday elimination. The world champion son of Muscle Hill dominates his division to a much greater degree than any other horse in North America. He’s staked to the Valley Victory and the Matron, but as great as he’s been, there’s little chance of him being the second consecutive two-year-old Horse of the Year.

Jimmy Takter won both eliminations for freshman trotting fillies. Particularly impressive was the Muscle Hill homebred All The Time, who drew off from Canadian champ Caprice Hill (Kadabra), who had been bet down to 1/5. Haughty, a Donato sister to Aldebaran Eagle coming off an ISS win, took the other split.

The sophomore pacing fillies have been a soft and confusing group all year, but Divine Caroline, who came on late to easily win her elimination at 3/5 for David Miller and Joe Holloway, seems to have taken over. Last year Holloway had world Champion Shebestingin and 2012 BC winner Somwherovrarainbow, but Stingin only made three starts during the three months prior to the BC and Rainbow finished tenth. This on top of having Miki scratch out of his final. Perhaps the Rock N Roll Heaven filly will make everything right on Saturday when she starts from the rail.

There was no elimination needed to sort out the three-year-old trotting Fillies. Wild Honey, who carried 1/9 Mission Brief to the quarter before picking her up at the end of the Filly Futurity, will start from the three Saturday, while the Muscle Hill world champion has drawn the seven. With wins in the Oaks, KY Filly Futurity, Bluegrass and PA Championship, Wild Honey actually has a better record than her more celebrated rival. A win in the BC would serve as icing on the cake. Does she have a shot at the Dan Patch? Probably about as much as Artspeak, Waki and Pete have of unseating Wiggle. The myth of superiority on the part of Mission Brief has been set in stone.

D’One, who beat BAM in the Fresh Yankee and Muscle Hill, won’t get another chance this week as the Kadabra mare has opted for the open. There was no elimination for these divisions. Last year it was Maven who raced in the open while BAM won the mares open. Maven was second to Commander Crowe in the final, but she beat nine boys in her elimination from the ten in a world record 1:52.2. She was exiled to Europe early in the year, where she has had a disappointing campaign.

The Ten Day calls for a dry day in Toronto on Saturday with temps in the 50s—balmy for this time of year—and not much wind.

Joe FitzGerald

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Subdued Return

With the long struggle against cancer now over and the initial mourning period complete, my return to the blogosphere has begun.  It may take me a few days to catch up with the comings and goings of harness racing, but you should see me blogging with regular frequency in no time.

I found it ironic that the end of Harness Racing Update and my mother came on the same day.  Both were great in their own way and will be sorely missed by those who loved/appreciated them.  You could say cancer was the cause for both's demise. 

Cancer ended HRU?  The cancer which kills those who report on the good and bad news regarding harness racing.  There are those who want nothing better than sweep the warts harness racing has under the rug.  I totally understand why Standardbred Canada and the USTA report only on the good; after all they are the trade organizations for the standardbred industry.  But when an independent newsletter arrives on the scene and reports the good, bad, and downright ugly, what happens?  Advertising support from all but a few organizations disappears, reduced to a point where it makes no sense to continue the efforts necessary to produce the magazine.  The net result, the death of a publication which reports all the news the industry needs to hear instead of what it needs to hear.

So the industry goes on living its Pollyanna lifestyle, living on slot generated funds while the same old problems continue, waiting for the slot machine merry go round to come to an end as the decoupling movement heads towards harness racing centers from the South and the West.

Harness racing has many great things going for it but it also has its problems.  Without addressing its problems, it is a sport which may very well run of the rails.

Cal Expo opens up it's 2015 fall-winter meets on October 24, Breeders Crown night, concluding on December 20, 2015.  It is reported that Richard Silverman will be making the move to the West Coast for this meet.  

What's the latest regarding Exchange Wagering?  The NJRC had approved rules regarding Exchange Wagering back in April and as of the September meeting, indicated its staff is currently reviewing applications for exchange wagering, so albeit slowly, it appears the new wagering type will be coming to the Garden State.  Who is seeking licensing is unknown at this time.  Hopefully, the promises exchange wagering is supposed to offer will in fact materialize.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

How Did the Trotting Sires Fare at the Lexington Selected Sale?

Muscle Hill sold 23 more yearlings at this year’s Lexington Selected Sale than he did last year—for a total of 49. As a result he grossed $2.4 million more, as he upped his average by an impressive $16,000 to $86,306. One third of his offering brought at least $100,000, with a half—brother to Father Patrick selling for $350,000 and three other colts and a filly topping $200,000. There were no two or three hundred thousand dollar sales for him in Lexington last year, but he did move three colts and four fillies for more than $100,000 each at that sale. 80% of this year’s group brought at least $50,000, up from 61% in 2014. And remember that this group is still saddled with a New Jersey sire stakes affiliation. Only 21 will be for sale in Harrisburg. World record holders Southwind Frank and Mission Brief are his 2015 headliners.

Cantab Hall sold 48 yearlings in Lexington, one less than rival Muscle Hill, but he grossed more than $1.4 million less and averaged $28,000 less for his large offering. Cantab also sold a colt for $350,000, a half-brother to Muscle Massive and Muscle Mass. He also got $310,000 for a half-sister to Muscle Hill. And another filly and a colt topped $200,000. To no avail, he was crushed by Muscle Hill. 34% of Cantab’s yearlings topped $50,000, while 80% of Muscle Hill’s did. It’s not that the 14-year-old son of Self Possessed had a bad sale, it’s just that the competition from above was so fierce. As is the case with Muscle Hill, this crop numbers more than a hundred. Seventeen colts and 21 fillies will sell in Harrisburg. He’ll get quite a boost there. Cantab ranks third on the all age list and fifth on both the two and three-year old lists. There is no Father Patrick out there this year. Wild Honey is his queen.

Credit Winner is next. Three of his sons have won the Yonkers Trot but none have taken the Hambletonian or Kentucky Futurity. Archangel is probably his most high profile son from the recent past; he went fast but didn’t win much in the open realm. The eighteen-year-old son of American Winner makes most of his money in the NYSS; he’s third behind Conway Hall and his son, RC Royalty, in the 2YO class and second to Conway in the three-year-old group. Last year a full brother to Archangel fetched $355,000 and a half-sister to Trixton sold for $320,000. This time four, a colt and three fillies, sold for more than $100,000. 42% brought $50,000 or more, just like last year. His average for 38 sold was more than $51,000, down almost $19,000 from 2014 when he sold 33. Twenty-two colts and 13 fillies will sell in Harrisburg.

The 2012 HOY, Chapter Seven, made quite a splash with his initial offering; 26 of them averaged $61,000. Five colts, or 18% of his group, topped the $100,000 mark, with a pair selling for more than $200,000.  The grandson of Conway Hall will sell 31 more in Harrisburg.

Donato Hanover didn’t set off any fireworks in Lexington. He sold 26 for a $39,769 average, down $11,000 from his average for 39 sold last year, when it was up by 15%. Only one topped $100,000 and a weak 35% brought $50,000 or more. Donato, known more for his fillies than his colts, has the top freshman trotting filly, Broadway Donna. And D’One, who just won the Allerage Mare, is battling BAM for the lead role in that group. Donato will sell 41 yearlings back home in Pennsylvania. The results will be much better.

Yankee Glide’s son Milligan’s School won splits of the Bluegrass and ISS at The Red Mile and daughter Ultimate Shopper won a division of the latter. The 21-year-old son of Valley Victory has seen his fee cut in half since 2011 but he sold 30 for an average of $30,500. That’s $12,000 less than he averaged for 30 sold last year. Are you picking up a pattern here? A full-brother to All Laid Out brought $150,000 and a full-sister to Peter Haughton winner, Aperfectyankee, sold for $130,000. Still, 67% brought $25,000 or less; that was 41% in 2014.

Explosive Matter averaged about the same for a small offering. Only two of the 15 sold, or 13%, topped $50,000, and 47% failed to top $25,000. Apparently Pinkman hasn’t impressed the buyers. The son of Cantab Hall will sell 19 colts and 21 fillies on his home turf during the first week of November. I’m sure the results will be much better.

Kadabra lost $18,000 on his average for 13 sold, in contrast to 19 in 2014. He’ll sell 20 in Harrisburg. 31% of the small offering brought more than $50,000. These yearlings are from a small crop. His daughter Caprice Hill and son Tony Soprano won the OSS Super Finals for 2YO trotters the other night.

Dewey sold 14, up from 10 a year ago. And his average rose $6,000 to $19,571. His daughter Second Sister won an OSS Super Final on Saturday. Last year 90% of the Deweys at this sale failed to top $25,000. This year that dropped to $71 %. Maybe New York will agree with him.

Last year Lucky Chucky saw his average plummet by 43%, thanks in no small part to the $450,000 the Cancellieres paid for a half to Muscle Mass and Muscle Massive the previous year. This time it was down even more than that as it dropped $16,000 to $13,857. None of them topped $50,000 and 86% failed to exceed $25,000.

Joe FitzGerald

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Pacing Sires At Lexington Selected

At the Lexington Selected Sale Somebeachsomewhere led all pacing sires in gross revenue, average and the highest price paid for a yearling. Forty-four sold, up from 30 last year. The ten-year-old son of Mach Three grossed $1.1 million more than he did in 2014, thanks to the 14 extra yearlings in his offering. His average was down almost $3,300. This crop consists of 130 foals; 48 will sell in Harrisburg the first week of November. Last year 55 sold in Pennsylvania as compared with 30 in Lexington, so the percentage offered in Kentucky has markedly increased.

Eight colts and seven fillies, or 34% of those sold, brought at least $100,000, and one of the colts and two fillies commanded prices in excess of $200,000. Last year 40% topped $100,000, with a pair of fillies selling for more than $200,000. Nineteen colts and 13 fillies fetched at least $50,000—a very healthy 75% of the offering. Last year it was 73%. Our boy is consistent.

The low end has shrunk, as fewer than 7% failed to top $25,000 this year. Last year that group amounted to 23%.

SBSW has not recreated Captaintreacherous ; consistency and across the board superior performance have been his calling card. Undefeated Pure Country, who won the Pennsylvania Championship for freshman fillies and went on to double in the Bluegrass and ISS, is his star attraction.

Art Major, who has had his reputation bolstered by last year’s Horse of the Year, JK She’salady, and her brother, Cup and Allerage winner JK Endofanera, as well as NYSS star Travel Playlist, was second to SBSW in total sales and average in Lexington. Although, in deference to Beach’s domination, Art Major only took in 47% of what he did. The 32 sold averaged $55,000, up $8,000 from last year, when six fewer changed hands. He was stronger in the middle and at the low end this year; 47% sold for at least $50,000 as opposed to 31% in 2014. The percentage failing to top $25,000 was also considerably reduced. The $275,000 paid for a filly out of a daughter of Delinquent Account topped the pacing side of the sale and was $125,000 more than Art Major’s 2014 high. There are 107 in the crop being sold, up 28 from last year. Thirty-one will be available in Harrisburg.

Another New York stallion, American Ideal, grossed the third largest amount at Lexington Selected. He moved up from the number eleven spot in 2014. He sold 26 yearlings as opposed to 20 last year and his average jumped $7,000 to $48,769. Last year only one filly topped $100,000. This year three colts and a filly eclipsed that number. There are 114 in this crop, up 21 from last year. A large offering of 20 colts and 23 fillies will be available in Harrisburg.

He’s Watching is retired and In The Arsenal, despite wins in the Rooney and Bluegrass, has been something of a disappointment, but American Passport took splits of the Bluegrass and ISS at The Red Mile while Bedroomconfessions won the former.

Well Said was number four in gross sales, although his average dropped $4,200 on seven more sold than in 2014. His percentages on the various tiers were similar to last year, except in the $15,000 or less category where he was much better this time.

Lost For Words has gone right up to the line that separates the top tier from the rest, but he’s been unable to get across. Brian Brown’s charge won a heat of the Jug and lost a heartbreaker to Wiggle in the final. He was second in the Tattersalls Pace to Artspeak the other day; he was third behind Wakizashi Hanover in the PA Championship; he was second in the Milstein and third in the Adios. Not quite there. And two-year-old Control The Moment has been outstanding in Canada. He drew the two post in his BC elimination on Friday. These are the best two horses to emerge from the nine-year-old Western Hanover stallion’s three crops. He stands for a $15,000 fee.

Bettor’s Delight, who is selling his first large Pennsylvania crop this year, was fifth in gross sales. His average jumped about $1,100 to $42,440. The 17-year-old son of Cam’s Card Shark led sophomore pacers in earnings by a wide margin in his last year of eligibility in the New York program, and he led freshman colt pacers by a mile in Ontario. He’s the leading sire of all-age pacers in North America.

LA Delight made it 11 for 12 when she won her OSS Super Final the other night. Her counterpart Betting Line took the colt Super Final. All Bets Off won the Confederation Cup and the Prix D’Ete. Betting Exchange won the NYSS final and 6-year-old Dynamic Youth has come alive under Ron Burke’s tutelage. Bettor’s Delight has had a great year—all over the map and age spectrum. Yet, the number of $100,000 plus yearlings sold by him in Lexington is the same this year as last—zero. 48% did bring at least $50,000—up 9 % from 2014. There are 126 in this crop and 60 of them will sell in Harrisburg, 31 colts and 29 fillies.

Rocknroll Hanover, who is selling his last crop, which consists of 44 Pennsylvania eligible foals, had similar numbers to last year. He did sell a colt for $100,000 and another for $95,000. Eighteen will sell at Harrisburg.

Roll With Joe, who had great success in the NYSS program with his first crop, which included world champion Dime A Dance, stepped his average up more than $12,000 since his first go round in Lexington a year ago. Only 11 were sold from a small crop—33 will sell in Harrisburg. Five of the eleven brought at least $50,000 and a half-brother to Forty Five Red and Thirty Two Red sold for $125,000.

Rock N Roll Heaven took in $500,000 on 29 sold. Last year 11 grossed $556,000. So his average took a precipitous nosedive of more than $33,000. Only 7% topped $50,000, while 58% sold for $15,000 or less. 72% failed to top $25,000. Talk about a bloodbath. This is a large crop—38 will sell in Harrisburg—but subsequent crops are much smaller so his connections have decided to relocate him to New Jersey for the 2016 season.

Heaven has produced Sassa Hanover, who won the Jugette this year; Divine Caroline, who recently took the Garnsey and a split of the Bluegrass; Band Of Angels, who was number two in her NYSS class, Moremercy Bluechip and Rock Me Gently, who were productive in the NYSS, but they’re all fillies. The cupboard is bare on the colt side.

The godsend was that Western Terror, who weighed last year’s average down with a sale record 41 undesirables, only sold nine this year. His average jumped from $15,000 to $19,000 with the smaller offering, but 77% of them failed to crack $25,000. Nine will sell in Pennsylvania, down from 23 in 2014.

Joe FitzGerald

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Review of the Grand Circuit Meet at The Red Mile

Brett Miller won eight stakes races at the Grand Circuit meet in Lexington, as well as one late closer. He took splits of the Bluegrass and ISS with top filly Pure Country and came from off to win the Allerage Open with JK Endofanera, all for Jimmy Takter. JK End won a split of the Tattersalls Pace last year. And David Miller, who finished with a rush on Saturday, with wins in the Allerage Mare Pace with Color’s A Virgin, Allerage Mare Trot with D’One, and both splits of the Tattersalls Filly Pace, with the Rock N Roll Heaven fillies Rock Me Gently and Divine Caroline, was second in stakes wins with seven. He also won four late closers.  

Tim Tetrick, who won eleven late closers, had six stakes wins, including Bluegrass splits with Split The House, Crazy Wow and Bedroomconfessions. Tim won eleven late closers two years ago, in addition to nine stakes.

Last year Yannick Gingras won an incredible sixteen stakes races and four late closers at The Red Mile. This year that dropped off to five stakes wins and a single late closer. On the other hand, Yannick did take the most lucrative race at the meet, the $527,000 KY Futurity with the Explosive Matter gelding, Pinkman. He also steered the Muscle Hill colt Southwind Frank to a 1:52.2 world record performance in a split of the ISS.

Scott Zeron also had five stakes wins, including the Tattersalls Pace with Artspeak and the Allerage Open with Il Sogno Dream on closing day. Scott won five late closers.

John Campbell drove the diminutive Cantab Hall miss, Wild Honey, to a win over 1/9 trotting queen Mission Brief in the Filly Futurity. He also had three other stakes wins. Upstart Muscle Hill has been looking down his nose at Cantab lately, including at the Lexington Selected Sale, but the latter took his measure in the Futurity. In 2011 Campbell won 13 late closers but no stakes. The following year it was only two late closers, but four Bluegrass splits and one ISS. He also got bilked out of an ISS win with Odds On Equuleus. This year JC took four stakes and three late closers.

Ake Svanstedt and Andy Miller each drove three winners. The late blooming Andover Hall colt Dupree beat Takter’s highly regarded Muscle Hill colt, Bar Hopping, in both the Bluegrass and ISS for Ake. Andy doubled with the Yankee Glide freshman Milligan’s School. Ake also took a pair of late closers, and Andy one.

Jimmy Takter led all trainers with seven stakes wins. This is down from 13 last year. He has back to back wins in the KY Futurity and three in a row in the Filly Futurity, with To Dream On, Shake It Cerry and Wild Honey. Pure Country and Wild Honey were both double winners.

Tony Alagna was next with six winners. He took the Tattersalls Pace with Artspeak, who was his only stakes winner in 2014. The American Ideal colt, American Passport, and the Roll With Joe colt Racing Hill were both double winners in Lexington.

Steffan Lind, who saw his sophomore trotter Billy Flynn go cold in his second year on the track, won four stakes. The Manofmanymissions freshman Celebrity Eventsy won twice for him, helping raise his sire’s profile in the process.

Ron Burke, who won nine stakes in 2014, only captured four this time around. Burke had eight second place finishes in Red Mile stakes, one of which he also won. Mission Brief disappointed, while Crazy Wow was beaten up by Takter and The Bank in the early part of the Futurity.

Horses bred in Pennsylvania won three-quarters of the trotting stakes at The Red Mile. There were three New Jersey wins for Muscle Hill—less than one would expect—who is now in Pennsylvania. And MOMM, who is now in Ohio, had two wins from Ontario sired Celebrity Eventsy. There was only one win for a New York bred trotter, that being Crazy Wow, who took a Bluegrass split. Cantab Hall topped the Pennsylvania list with five wins, followed by Yankee Glide with four and Donato with three.

The Empire State fared much better in the pacing stakes, with eleven wins to six for PA. New Jersey had five, four of them by the late Rocknroll Hanover. And one of Western Ideal’s three winners was bred in the Garden State. Indiana had one—Allerage Mare Pace winner, Color’s A Virgin.

SBSW, like his trotting counterpart Muscle Hill, only had three wins. None of the major stakes on the last day of the meet went to sons or daughters of either of these high dollar stallions.

American Ideal had four wins, as did Rocknroll Heaven. Racing Hill put the spotlight on his successful first year sire, Roll With Joe, with wins in the Bluegrass and ISS.

Joe FitzGerald