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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The 2015 Division Races

Some of the races for divisional honors are done deals at this point. Wiggle It Jiggleit, who has earned more than $2 million; set world records for his class on half and 5/8 tracks; won the Meadowlands Pace and Little Brown Jug; and come out on top in 20 of 24 starts that stretch through almost the entire calendar year, will win his division and be voted Horse Of The Year. He has one more start scheduled, in the Progress Pace at Dover Downs on November 29.

Pinkman, with wins in the Hambletonian, Kentucky Futurity and Canadian Trotting Classic, will win the Dan Patch for sophomore trotting colts. The gelded son of Explosive Matter has won 11 of 17 starts and earned more than $1.8 million for Jimmy Takter. Pinkman will give the latter consecutive wins in this division.

Southwind Frank will top the freshman trotting colts. He won 11 of 12 starts, including the Breeders Crown and the Peter Haughton. He earned almost $800,000 and set a world record of 1:52.2 in a split of the ISS at The Red Mile. That’s almost two seconds slower than his paternal sister Mission Brief went last year, but that’s OK.

Speaking of Mission Brief, she’ll win the three-year-old trotting filly division on brilliance alone. The three classic stakes for a sophomore trotting filly are the Oaks, Kentucky Filly Futurity and Breeders Crown. Wild Honey took all of them, and she has a bigger 2015 bankroll than the Muscle Hill Amazon, so on the basis of her resume she should be on equal footing with Mission Brief, at the very least. But life isn’t always fair, and brilliance sometimes trumps a season of stellar accomplishments. Last Thursday’s eye popping world record 1:50.2 win in the Matron by Mission Brief put her over the top. She also finished second in the Hambletonian, and won the Elegantimage, Zweig Filly, and a split of the Bluegrass. The public loves her and she will win the division, regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s Continentalvictory.

Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year in the US and Canada, will be back on the podium after an off year—for her—in 2014. She beat the boys in the Maple Leaf Classic, Charlie Hill, Cutler and Centaur. She also triumphed over the mares in the Armbro Flight. BAM is entered in the TVG Mare Trot on Friday. Regardless of the outcome, she will be hoisting a Dan Patch.

Jimmy Takter’s SBSW two-year-old filly, Pure Country, should win a competitive contest for the Dan Patch with the Canadian based Bettor’s Delight filly, L A Delight. The former is a perfect 10 for 10 while Bob McIntosh’s L A Delight has experienced one loss in a dozen starts. Pure Country is almost $157,000 richer. This one came down to the Breeders Crown, which the SBSW filly won handily. L A Delight was not staked to it. Pure Country also won splits of the Bluegrass and ISS at The Red Mile and the Pennsylvania Championship. L A Delight won the Eternal Camnation, Great Lady and Champlain, as well as the OSS Super Final.

Figuring out which freshman colt will take home a Dan Patch is much more difficult. If Control The Moment (Well Said), who won the Metro and Nassagaweya, had taken the Breeders Crown he would have ended the discussion, but he didn’t, and he hasn’t come to the States for the Matron or the Governor’s Cup. The Rocknroll colt Boston Red Rocks took the BC, but that’s about it. He is entered in Saturday’s Governor’s Cup. Ron Burke’s Western Ideal colt Big Top Hanover won the Matron, in addition to an ISS split in Lexington. A win on Saturday would make him a strong candidate. If neither Big Top Hanover nor Boston Red Rocks win the Governor’s Cup it may go by default to Control The Moment.

If the Donato filly Broadway Donna had won the BC, the division would be hers. She entered her elimination a perfect 9 for 9 with wins in the Doherty, Bluegrass and PA Championship. But she failed to make the final, and is now at the mercy of Jimmy Takter’s Muscle Hill filly, All The Time, who starts from the rail in the upcoming Goldsmith Maid. She won the BC and will have $125,000 more on her card than Donna if she wins on Friday. All The Time has won seven times and she dominated in her recent starts.

No sophomore pacing filly got even a single point in this week’s Top Ten Poll. The division will probably be settled in the 1 1/8 mile Tarport Hap at The Meadowlands. Divine Caroline, who starts from the seven for David Miller and Joe Holloway, won the Breeders Crown, Garnsey and a split of the Bluegrass. She’s the richest and fastest filly in that division. A win on Saturday should secure a Dan Patch for her. Ron Burke’s Sassa Hanover, the winner of the Jugette and Adioo Volo, is also entered in that race. Wrangler Magic won the Fan Hanover and Simcoe, and Purrfect Bags took the Lady Maud and Lismore, but both checked out of the division battle early. Also, the Courageous Lady is a week from Friday.

The aged trotters are another difficult group in which to crown a leader: There is no Sebastian K this year. Bee A Magician won several of the trotting stakes that generally go to males. Papagayo E took the Yonkers International, while Creatine, who only made a couple of NA starts, won the Breeders Crown. Il Sogno Dream won the Allerage and the Dayton Trotting Derby. Is he the champ? JL Cruze was an early season sensation, winning sixteen times. However, once the four-year-old restricted races ended, he fell apart. His last win was four months ago in the Hambletonian Maturity. None of the TVG Final winners would become prime candidates with a win. No idea.

Anndrovette won’t be winning the Dan Patch for aged pacing mares for a fifth consecutive year. At least I don’t think she will. She has only three wins, with the Golden Girls and Lady Liberty being two of them. But the latter was her last win and that was more than three months ago. She scratched out of the BC. Venus Delight, who won the Matchmaker, Artiscape and Milton, should take the division with a win in Friday’s TVG Mare for Tim Tetrick. On the other hand, last year’s three-year-old champ, Color’s A Virgin, has come alive at the right time with wins in the Allerage Mare and Breeders Crown. A win in the TVG for David Miller will secure another Dan Patch for her.

The race for the Dan Patch in the older pacing division presents the voters with an interesting dilemma. Throughout most of the season it was assumed that six-year-old State Treasurer, who has nine wins and dominated that division for most of the 2014 season, would win in a walk. But then along came Miki.

By the time Always B Miki made his first start, in an Indiana Sire Stakes elimination on October 3, State Treasure had already racked up wins in the Molson,  Mohawk Gold Cup, William Haughton, the US Pacing Championship, Roll With Joe, Canadian Pacing Derby and Dayton Pacing Derby. All that before the four-year-old son of Always A Virgin made a single start. That’s a very impressive seasonal resume.

Subsequent to that, State Treasurer was a disappointing seventh in the Allerage Open, after leading most of the mile.  He then faced Miki in a Breeders Crown elimination, won easily by the latter, with State Treasurer finishing third, three lengths back. And the following week Miki took the final in handy fashion in 1:49.3, with State Treasurer finishing sixth.

State Treasurer called it a year after his Breeders Crown loss, while Miki went on to win the American-National in 1:49.1 at Balmoral. Since he was not staked to the TVG, that’s it for him in 2015.

This week’s Breeders Crown Poll shows Always B Miki in sixth place with 147 points, while State Treasurer is in twelfth with only 29 points. While some of the folks who vote in this poll will also vote for the division champions, not all will. Still, we must choose between five months of domination at the highest ranks of the aged pacing tree and one month of brilliance at the tail end of the season. Does that old saw “What have you done for me lately” rule the day? As unfair as it might be, I believe Always B Miki will take home the Dan Patch.

Joe FitzGerald


Blaine said...

Always B Miki is the most talented aged pacer, BY FAR. But he doesn't have to body of work to be a deserving winner of a Patch. State Treasurer was a major winner in Canada, New York, New Jersey and Ohio. Wild Honey isn't nearly as fast as Mission Brief, but she won the 3 most prestigious races in her division. Divine Caroline consistently hit the board in a division lacking a dominant horse. Winning the BC 3YOFP clinched the award for her. Finally, I don't believe Southwind Frank made 17 starts during his 2yo campaign. Nice Rundown...

Anonymous said...

I'm predicting who will win here, and that will be Miki. He will also be voted HOY.
Wild Honey has been my candidate all along, but after Mission Brief redeemed herself with that big mile in the Matron, I don't think the little filly can beat her. If Wild Honey wins the Continentalvictory she would certainly be more deserving of the Dan Patch, but I still don't think she'd win the division. The public is in love with MB, and they don't seem to care much about WH. Will the writers see it differently? Maybe.
State Treasurer deserves to win that division, but I think it will probably be Miki who gets the Dan Patch, as unfair as that might be.
Divine Caroline should win her division.
If D'One stuck around and beat BAM in the TVG Mare, she'd be my choice in that division. Unfortunately she returned to Sweden. Even with a win in the TVG Mare, it would have been tough for her. BAM is bullet proof.
I screwed up on Southwind Frank's number of starts. Must have glanced at the wrong line and had a brain cramp. I'm doing a hundred pushups as punishment.
Again, I'm making predictions in this piece.

Anonymous said...

These awards are something of a farce to begin with, but Miki is far less deserving than State Treasurer. State Treasurer's first 2015 stakes win was over the half mile track in the Molson back in May, and he continued to whack it out all season long over all size tracks, winning most of the FFA races until the end of the year. Can anyone imagine Miki withstanding the kind of schedule State Treasurer endured?