Meadowlands Hosts Breeders Crown Finals

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Ted Black

October 28th, 2016

Beginning on Friday night the Meadowlands will again garner the standardbred spotlight when the New Jersey one-mile oval hosts all 12 Breeders Crown finals, four on Friday and eight more on Saturday.

Fridays four Breeders Crown finals will feature older pacers and trotters, with one race for each gait designated for older males and the other for mares. Three of the four finals will have little or no bearing on divisional honors, but the other could impact three coveted titles.

Midway through the Friday card, the Meadowlands will present the first of the four Breeders Crown finals when it offers the $250,000 Fillies-Mares Open for trotting mares, one of the races that did not require eliminations. This event will be the ideal clash between the young and old as Hannelore Hanover (Yannick Gingras) will tackle Bee A Magician (Brian Sears) in a race that many have anticipated all year.

Hannelore Hanover has emerged on the scene as a budding star for trainer Ron Burke, winning 15 of 18 starts this year and earning nearly $900,000 in a break-out campaign that will almost assuredly earn her divisional honors among aged trotting mares.
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But looking to spoil the early coronation for the four-year-old trotting mare is Bee A Magician, a prior horse of the year winner who has won all four of her starts this year and banked $232,000 and arrives fresh off a victory in the $250,000 Yonkers Invitational against male rivals at one-mile and a quarter. Bee A Magician was the 2013 harness horse of the year at age three and she rebounded from a lackluster four-year-old season in 2014 to garner the aged trotting mare title. But the R. Nifty Norman trainee would have to upend Hannelore Hanover in emphatic style to repeat as division champ this season.

Adding further intrigue to the equation is D'one, last year's Breeders Crown F-M Open Trot champ who has won only once in three starts this year for trainer Roger Walman and makes her U.S. return on Friday night. Classical Annie, a talented Maryland-bred trotting filly who owns a 7-2-2 slate and modest earning of $68,000 bankroll from 21 starts this year and Shake It Cerry (David Miller), a winner of just one race from 16 tries this year with seasonal earnings of $275,000, will leave from post nine for trainer Jimmy Takter.

Then one race later on the card the best older pacers in the land will clash in the $420,000 Breeders Crown Open where divisional honors, pacer of the year and horse of the year could be at stake. Reigning horse of the year Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague), who has won 15 of 23 starts and banked $1.6 million this year for trainer Clyde Francis and owner George Teague, Jr., will once again clash with Always B Miki (David Miller), has won 10 of 16 starts and banked almost $1.1 million for Takter and boasts the fastest mark in harness racing history courtesy of a 1:46 score at Lexington and three other 1:47 scores.

Both Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki arrive as the two best horses in the land, regardless of age, gender and gait and there is considerable amount of prestige at stake. Since both horses are among the aged pacing ranks, only one could be division champ and only one could subsequently be pacer of the year and horse of the year. They have taken turns beating one another this year and they will likely clash again in two weeks in the $500,000 TVG Open Pace final, but the Breeders Crown carries a lot of weight among voters and this showdown could impact a trio of Dan Patch awards.
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Of course, those not willing to accept Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki completing the exacta in one way or another will have numerous talented older pacers to use on top or underneath either one. Shamballa (Scott Zeron) owns a 4-3-3 slate and $370,000 bankroll from 16 starts this year and upended both already over this oval in the U.S. Pacing Championship in 1:47.1 on Hambletonian Day. Mach It So (Tim Tetrick) won the William Haughton Memorial here last season and was second to 'Wiggle It' in the $150,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial at Harrington. All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) has clearly been the best of the 'Burke Brigade' this season, sporting a 3-5-7 slate and $540,000 bankroll from 24 starts and has rarely ducked either of the top pair.

Then one race later in the $250,000 Breeders Crown Fillies & Mares Open for pacers, Lady Shadow (Yannick Gingras) will look to put the finishing touches on her stellar campaign when she leaves from post two following a sharp, 1:48.4 elim score last week. This daughter of Shadow Play sports a 10-2-1 slate and banked over $630,000 in 18 starts this year for trainer Ronald Adams and looks to have already secured the division title and Maryland-bred horse of the year honors regardless of the outcome of this event on Friday.

But, again, those who do not wish to take 2-5 on Lady Shadow and have no qualms playing against her will have several talented distaffers to choose from. Divine Caroline (David Miller) draws the rail for trainer Joe Holloway, while Katie Said (Zeron) will start from post three for Takter. Frost Damage Blues (Brett Miller), placed first via disqualification last weekend for trainer Tom Fanning, will leave from post four having won five of 10 starts this year. Solar Sister (Doug McNair) was dq'd from first after taking her elim last week, but merits respect in this spot. Regil Elektra (Joe Bongiorno) has raced well in the Open Handicap at Yonkers throughout the season and sports a 9-8-4 slate and $256,000 bankroll from 36 starts this year.

Then one race later in the $300,000 Breeders Crown Open Trot, all of the focus will be on Resolve (Ake Svandstedt), handy winner of the Grade I, $1 million Yonkers International in his last outing and boasting a 5-1-1 slate and $1 million banked in nine stateside starts and a runner-up effort in the famed Elitlopp in Sweden behind former Yonkers Trot winner Nuncio. Resolve has already secured divisional honors, but he almost assuredly will yield trotter of the year honors to Triple Crown hero Marion Marauder, who is going to get ample horse of the year support as well.

Again, those who do not want to take 2-5 on Resolve in the Breeders Crown will have several good options. JL Cruze (John Campbell), last year's champion aged trotter, has certainly not regained that form and arrives with a 5-2-1 slate and modest $160,00 banked from 16 starts this year for trainer Eric Ell. Flanagan Memory (Sears) delivered a big performance at Lexington before a dull outing at Yonkers, but is back on a big track. Crazy Wow (Gingras) was among the sport's top three-year-old colt trotters last year for Burke, but has clearly not been the same this season. Centurion ATM (Svandstedt) has always shown flashes of brilliance throughout his career, but the Maryland-bred trotter only looks capable of garnering minor spoils here.