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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

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