Friday harness preview

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Ted Black

November 20th, 2014

Beginning on Friday evening all harness racing fans will focus their attention on the Meadowlands as standardbred racing enthusiasts will get ample fill of the phrase "It All Comes Down to the Breeders Crown" as the New Jersey one-mile oval hosts four Crown finals on Friday and then eight more on Saturday night.

Each year the Breeders Crown finals go a long way toward determining various divisional honors and horse of the year and their importance along both lines will be heightened this year beginning with the Friday card. Last year's horse of the year is competing in one of the four Breeders Crown finals on Friday, but her chances for repeating evaporated long ago. Nevertheless, several female trotters and pacers will likely clinch divisional honors on Friday.

In the evening's seventh race, the $250,000 Breeders Crown Open Mare Trot, much of the focus will again be on Bee A Magician (Brian Sears), who won all 17 of her starts last year en route to being horse of the year. But Bee A Magician only sports a modest 3-6-2 slate and $300,000 bankroll from 15 starts this year and she will need a victory in this event simply to have a chance to garner divisional honors among her gait and gender. She will be favored in this spot, but is worth playing against.

Just to her inside is Classic Martine (Tim Tetrick) who sports a solid 9-4-2 slate and $375,000 bankroll from 17 starts this season after posting a nearly identical 9-5-2 slate and $440,000 banked from 17 starts one year ago. This Chris Oakes trainee has a good chance to upset Bee A Magician here and a victory would put her squarely in the running for divisional honors pending the results of Maven's performance one night later against the boys in the Breeders Crown Open Trot.

One race later in the eighth, the $500,000 Breeders Crown final for two-year-old filly trotters, much of the attention will be on Mission Brief. This Ron Burke trainee has won eight of 12 starts and earned almost $350,000 while taking a sensational mark of 1:50.3 at Lexington, a world record for a 2yoft. But Mission Brief (Yannick Gingras) has also made breaks in two previous lucrative finals where she was the odds-on choice and a similar setback here could cost her the division title.

Looking to upset Mission Brief and wrestle champion two-year-old filly trotting honors from her is Wild Honey (Ron Pierce), a Cantab Hall filly trained by Jim Takter who has reeled off 10 straight wins since finishing second in her career debut. Wild Honey has enough speed to be a factor early and sit a pocket trip behind Mission Brief and if the favorite makes an untimely mistake then this Takter trainee will be in prime position for the upset and possible divisional honors.

Then one race later in the ninth, the $500,000 Breeders Crown final for three-year-old filly trotters, two Takter trainees will vie for favoritism, the top prize and divisional honors and one of them could be in the chase for horse of the year as well.

Shake It Cerry (Pierce) has won 14 of 16 starts and earned nearly $1 million this season and has posted impressive scores at Dover Downs, Balmoral and Woodbine and she has won every major stakes since being beaten in the Hambletonian Oaks. Lifetime Pursuit (Gingras) captured the Oaks, but has since suffered three straight setbacks to Shake It Cerry and now this Takter trainee needs a Crown victory to have any hope of claiming divisional honors.

Then one race later in the 10th, the $600,000 Breeders Crown final for three-year-old filly pacers, Color's A Virgin (Trace Tetrick) will look to secure divisional honors with another score. This Brian Brown trainee has won 13 of 17 starts and earned nearly $500,000 this year, including a sharp, 1:51 score in her Crown elim. But looking to foil the party is Gallie By The Beach (Tim Tetrick) who sports a modest 3-3-3 slate and $200,000 bankroll from 17 starts this year for trainer Jim Campbell, but looked good rallying to win her Crown elim last week in 1:50.4.