Class droppers can often climb back

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Ted Black

February 12th, 2015

Standardbred racing fans are often leery of those trotters and pacers that gradually drop in class seeking to regain their lost form, but those horses still often get overbet. Nevertheless, there are two aged pacers currently racing right now at Yonkers Raceway and the Meadowlands, respectively, who descended from the top class but soon may headed back there.

While many trotters and pacers that go off form and decline and then gradually descend through the non-winners conditions and into the claiming ranks often never recover. But there are two horses racing now at two of the sport's premier ovals who could subscribe to the axiom I describe as "drop to the top" meaning they may have regained their confidence and winning ways after taking a precipitous drop in class and now are on their way back toward facing the upper tier pacers in the sport.

In the fourth race at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday night, PH Supercam (Jason Bartlett) will be seeking his second win in four starts this year after dropping out the tough Open Handicap - he is actually the defending champion of the ultra-tough George Morton Levy Memorial series final here - and into the non-winners conditions. On January 31, PH Supercam lived up to his billing as the 2-5 favorite in the non-winners of $25,000 last six class when he led throughout for his first win of the season. But fortunately for trainer Tracy Brainard, the win did not force PH Supercam to jump in class.

In fact, last week PH Supercam was sent out as the 5-2 second choice from post eight in the non-winners of $25,000 last six group and raced tremendously. He left alertly and raced three-wide through the first turn and then was parked by favored Machs Beach Boy (Pat Lachance) to command in a 27.3 opener. PH Supercam got a breather by the half, led the way through three-quarters and into the lane then was nailed late by Machs Beach Boy who enjoyed the optimum perfect pocket trip. But that may have actually worked out for the best for PH Supercam.

This Saturday night PH Supercam is right back in the non-winners of $25,000 last six class and this time he drew post position two, a much more favorable spot on the New York half-mile oval. He should be able to control the tempo again without being hard used to make the top and he should have enough left in reserve to keep Casimir Jitterbug at bay. A victory in this class would not force PH Supercam back into Open or Preferred company. In fact, a fourth place finish in the Nov. 29 Open would drop off and his earnings would only climb to roughly $31,000 for his last six starts so he would fit into the non-winners of $32,000 last six class for the Feb. 21 card.

At eight years of age, PH Supercam may not be as energetic as he once was, but the Million Dollar Cam gelding perhaps leaked last year when he posted an 11-5-12 slate and earned nearly $600,000 while lowering his lifetime mark to 1:49.2 at Harrah's Philadelphia. In 158 career outings, PH Supercam owns 40 wins and earnings just shy of $900,000 and after months of facing Open company and being assigned the outside spot, the eight-year-old gelding can continue his climb back through the condition ladder and still be somewhat fresh and ideally fit for the upcoming Levy series that gets underway next month.

At The Meadowlands, another aged pacer with a world of speed and back class and obviously some soundness issues, is rapidly making his way back to the top of the ladder. Hurricane Kingcole, a six-year-old Cam's Card Shark gelding trained by John McDermott, has won his last two starts at the Big M in stellar, first over fashion and done so despite missing at least three weeks on each occasion. After finishing second against C-1 pacers here in December, Hurricane Kingcole romped against that group on Jan. 10 and then came right back to score last weekend in the non-winners of $10,000 last five class despite missing the previous two weeks.

Hurricane Kingcole displayed immense speed at age three when he once unleashed a phenomenal split of 1:19 for three-quarters at the Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day. But his quality starts have been few and far between and even his next outing - he is not entered this weekend - will only be his 50th lifetime start. He sports 14 wins and earnings of over $580,000 and a stellar lifetime mark of 1:47.3 at age three when he competed almost exclusively in open stakes and New Jersey Sire Stakes events.

Although not far past his prime and lightly raced for a horse of his age - his lifetime starts are only eight more than what PH Supercam made last year - Hurricane Kingcole looks poised to join the A-2/A-1/Free-For-All ranks sometime this winter. At this point he can still make the gradual climb through the condition ladder, with his next start likely to be against either non-winners of $15,000 last five starts/non-winners of $75,000 in 2014-15 or perhaps in the B-2 class. Either way, a fresh and fit Hurricane Kingcole is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the top class at the Big M eventually is his soundness woes do not eventually get the better of him beforehand.