The Battle of Lake Erie this year is one of the most anticipated races of the year as we have the first match-up of two horses who look to battle for Pacer of the Year if not Horse of the Year, Freaky Feet Pete and Wiggle It Jiggleit. But it is not just a two-horse race. Also showing fine mettle at this time of the year is All Bets Off, though saddled tonight with post position eight.
Though typically a fall horse, The Battle likely will be the final appearance of the Iron Horse, Foiled Again, who at age twelve seems to be showing he is no longer able to go with FFA level horses. While he may be able to pick up some checks and win against higher conditioned horses, tonight ma very well be the final appearance in major stakes for him. I will be surprised to see him return net year as a thirteen horse. Sooner or later, Father Time wins out.
Anyway, after drawing poorly in his most recent starts (and often this year), Wiggle It Jiggleit draws the coveted one post over the Flying Turns' half mle oval; expect WIJI to try to wire the field. Freaky Feet Pete, with post position five will likely track WIJI, keep the fractions honest and try to take control of the race sometime after the half. To make things interesting, All Bets Off will likely take back, hope for some blistering fractions and attempt a late brush to win the race despite drawing the worst of it. As I said, perhaps the most anticipated race you can have for early in the season.
Of course, there are five other horses in the race who would like to have a say in the race. Do any of them have a chance for an upset or get into the exotics? Let's take a look at the field.
11th Northfield Park - Pace; $200,000; Battle of Lake Erie
1 Wiggle It Jiggleit (Even, Teague) - Unless a strategic change in the game plan, this one will be going down the road in an attempt to wire the field. It will be a question of fractions. May be able to win it but at even money or less, I will look for some value.
2 Ideal Cowboy (8-1, Merriman) - One that has been drawing poorly, the one time he started inside of post six he won over the Yonkers oval. This field is tougher, but with this post, may be an upset play. Definite superfecta play.
3 Roland N Rock (25-1, Stahl) - Had some early season success then tailed off. Given a month off and first start back was fair. Unless he steps his game up big time, I don't expect he will be around at the end. Pass.
4 Foiled Again (10-1, Bongiorno) - As discussed, he isn't the horse he once was and the fact Gingras is not driving should confirm the fact. Barring reaching back into the fountain of youth, he will be satisfied with picking up a check.
5 Freaky Feet Pete (2-1, Tr. Tetrick) - This one is showing Hoosier bred horses are not to be ignored. Expect him to track #1 and attempt to seize control past the half. It's all about the fractions. If you can get 2-1, may be worth a play. If not, try the exotics or sit back and watch.
6 Santa Fe Beachboy (25-1, Wrenn) - Would be a shocker to win, but not to be on your exotic ticket. Use accordingly.
7 Luck Be Withyou (15-1, Palone) - Oakes trainee upended JK Endofanera in second start of the season. Can he improve from that from post seven? Consider in exotics to goose price up.
8 All Bets Off (12-1, Kakaley) - Will look for speed duel to make late move. Does he get it? I suspect not.
The Graduate series kicks off tonight at the Meadowlands as two short fields of trotters and a field of 4 year old pacers do battle. Just briefly, here are my picks for these three tilts. Second race - Homicide Hunter; Sixth Race - Crescent Fashion; Eighth Race - Split The House.