This is a good time to scope out some of the overachievers and underachievers of the 2016 season. We’ll start with the former.
Indiana bred Hannelore Hanover, a daughter of the Andover Hall stallion Swan For All, has banked more 2016 money among the trotting set than all but Southwind Frank and Marion Marauder. She went from being a three-year-old regional queen to arguably the best aged trotter in North America. The Burke trainee has already won the Armbro Flight, Hambletonian Maturity and Miami Valley Distaff. She is favored in Friday’s Muscle Hill and will no doubt receive an invitation to the million dollar Yonkers International on October 15.
The six-year-old SBSW gelding Shamballa performed very well on the WEG circuit last year, winning eight times for almost $360,000, but he couldn’t quite get there when he stepped up to the Quillen, CPD, Dayton Pacing Derby or BC. This year trainer Rick Zeron’s statement that his charge would go whatever the likes of Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit went in the Franklin, Haughton and USPC was greeted with derision, but Shamballa was second at 39/1 in the Haughton and then stunned the sport with a win over all the division studs in 1:47.1 in the USPC for Scott Zeron. He then finished in a dead heat for third in the Dan Patch and is now prepping for a start in the Canadian Pacing Derby, where he will not be taken for granted. Shamballa has earned $304,000 in ten starts.
Rockin Ron, a four-year-old Real Desire gelding from the Burke Barn, has upset Wiggle It Jiggleit twice this year, in the Confederation Cup and in the Prix D’Ete this past Sunday. After spinning his wheels in the Indiana program last year, Ron has generated 11 wins good for $375,000 in 2016.
Musical Rhythm, a four-year-old Cantab Hall trotter based in Canada, won six times for $66,000 at three for Tony Alagna, but has really blossomed this year under the care of the Baillargeons. His earnings are up over $300,000 and he has a dozen wins, including the Graduate Series final.
The underachievers are plentiful and spread across all classes, but the aged pacing mares in particular stand out. Suffice it to say, they have not compensated for the premature retirement of JK She’salady. Division winner Divine Caroline, who won the BC and Garnsey last year earning $667,000 on 8 wins and 19 board finishes, has one win in 13 starts, good for $44,000.
Sassa Hanover, who earned $523,000 and won the Jugette, Adioo Volo and Courageous Lady, has won twice in 17 starts for $40,000.
Joe Holloway’s Bettor’s Delight filly, Bettor Be Steppin, banked more than $468,000 last year, with wins in the Valley Forge and the Lynch, but she’s gone the other way in 2016. She is winless in ten starts and has barely cracked $10,000 in earnings.
Mosquito Blue Chip is another disappointment. She came on strong at the close of 2015. After her win in the Matron, upping her seasonal earnings to more than $373,000, it looked like she’d be a force in the aged ranks for Rene Allard. However, the Bettor’s Delight mare has left that promise unfulfilled, with a one for ten record and a slim $26,000 bankroll.
Among the four-year-old pacers, Wakizashi Hanover, who banked more than a million dollars in 2015 on wins in the Cup, Jenna’s Beach Boy, PA Championship and Keystone Classic, got started late due to sickness and is winless in five starts with only $12,000 to show for his effort.
After winning 15 of 17 starts in 2015 Freaky Feet Pete, who took the BC, Monument Circle, Circle City and American National, has come up short in the open ranks. The fact that he no longer has access to all that sire stakes money has cut into his $854,000 earnings from last year and three of his five wins are in the Hoosier Park invitational. He was on the losing end of a spirited battle with Wiggle in the Graduate final. Pete is not staked to the CPD. The Big Three has been reduced by one.
The Well Said pacer Lost For Words didn’t put together much of an open stakes resume last year for Brian Brown, but he hit the board in 15 of 18 starts and made a name for himself chasing Wiggle around the track at Delaware Ohio, and even winning a heat there. That and success in the PASS added up to $695,000. He’s two for ten in 2016 and has only earned $34,000. The prospect of him becoming a productive aged pacer is on hold.
The Rocknroll Hanover sophomore Boston Red Rocks has disappointed on the Grand Circuit. He took the division last year thanks to wins in the BC and Governor’s Cup, but he only has a pair in 11 starts in 2016, with one being in his Cup elimination. Steve Elliott’s charge entered the season second on the Hoof Beats Predictive Ranking.
At least Boston Red Rocks has earned $267,000; the Kadabra sophomore Tony Soprano, who won four Golds as well as the Super Gold final in 2015, has only banked $29,000 thanks to a winless season thus far.
Dog Gone Lucky, from the second crop of Lucky Chucky, is another three-year-old trotter who hasn’t lived up to expectations. He sports the same zip for five record as Tony Soprano, with earnings of $10,000. This after taking the Valley Victory and Matron in 2015 and banking $506,000.
Zero for five seems to be a theme with four-year-old trotters. Pinkman, the division champ at two and three, who earned $1.8 million last year on wins in the Hambletonian, Beal, Stanley Dancer, CTC and Kentucky Futurity, has one win in Sweden, which brought in $59,000, but none in NA, where he has failed to crack $20,000. The aged trotting ranks are mighty thin. We could use the Explosive Matter gelding in last year’s form.
Three- time division winner Anndrovette has fallen on hard times. She only won three times last year, but that included the Golden Girls and Lady Liberty and she banked $363,000. This time around she’s one for thirteen with $80,000. While stablemate Venus Delight, who took the Matchmaker, Milton and Artiscape in 2015, has won twice for $171,000—far short of the $603,000 she took in last year.
Color’s A Virgin is another mare with an accomplished past who has faltered in 2016. She won eight times last year, including the BC and Allerage mare, for $$302,000. This year she’s one for ten with less than $23,000 in the bank.