The Breeders Crown completed, many of the season’s champs will take the rest of the year off. It has been a long, competitive season all over North America for all 12 divisions. But there are still weekends left and some late-season stakes to highlight for horses wanting to add more to their 2014 bankrolls.
At the Meadowlands on Saturday, the free-for-all pacers and trotters get to spar for the last giant purses of the year. On Sunday, Dover Downs previews its big stakes field for the Progress Pace, which will be held next week.
If you haven’t seen our epilogue to the Breeders Crown Countdown blog, it is still up for perusing. If you have seen it, go anyway and see some exclusive photos of Breeders Crown action taken by Ray Cotolo.
As the winter arrives and the stakes come down to a mere few, we expand the horses-to-watch list (H2W) as much as possible and keep you abreast of live contenders in the overnights around the continent. Follow tweets at @FrankCotolo, @Twinspires and @HarnessRaycer all the time for great late-minute action from harness ovals everywhere.
Opens For Business
Another pair of half-million dollars purses for Open pacers and Open trotters brings together some of last week’s Breeders Crown battlers at the Meadowlands on Nov. 29.
Seven of the “Crown” pacers are, with the addition of Warrawee Needy, who has been successfully knocking off conditioners at Pocono for a few months. The Crown winner of this division, Thinking Out Loud, is here and we hope he takes a lot of win money because he is not likely to get the generous path given him while beating Sweet Lou by a squeaky nose.
Thinking Out Loud has won a few notable stakes but each time he tries to win a race on his own, he fails. “Loud” needs fiery speed in front of him to collapse and a clear path around other closers that have worked the mile. We thought Loud was a big under-lay in the Crown (4-1) against over-lay Sweet Lou (8-5).
Sweet Lou paced a huge mile, going wide from fourth, 3 lengths back, to take the top. It cost him a step or two, especially with a scorching 1:20.4 three-quarters. That gave Loud a big shot, which he took, but still only won by a slim margin.
If any other in the field has a good shot at Sweet Lou this week it’s Modern Legend. His Crown mile was super, since he was hanging on the outside most of the trip and still gained a little when the speed collapsed. Finishing fourth was no embarrassment since so many horses were closing. Price-wise, “Legend” should be as good as he was last week at 7-1 and may be better if the Loud crowd supports the Crown winner.
The Open Trot has two entries that were not in the Crown’s trot division final and one of them is Sebastian K. The Crown-winner, Bee A Magician is back and she will get more action than last week when she was a second choice. What about Sebastian K? How should we read his ability? It’s astounding to think that we have to try when at the beginning of the season he was the talk of the trotting world.
With all the information we have, the break he made in the International Trot may be a toss-out race. Before that, he was short at The Red Mile. In his qualifier at the Meadowlands on Crown day, Sebastian K won but he was being stressed by Lindys Tru Grit. This may wind up to mean nothing but it means something now because Creatine—the 1 horse in this field—beat Sebastian K in The Red Mile race mentioned.
Market Share demands attention, though we hope the public doesn’t give it to him. His Crown race was a drama as he wheeled wide, though with cover, the entire mile and although he wound up eighth for the effort he was still only 4 ½ lengths off the leader, Commander Crowe.
Also, Maven, the only mare here, was all out to beat “Crowe” in the Crown and after a first-over trip was hustling better than the rest of the males. She may be backed too well even with post 10 but hooked with Market Share as an exacta partner could produce major bills.
Soon, all horses will turn a year older so for cash and more exposure in 2014 divisional championship voting, some three-year-olds are heading for Delaware.
McWicked, fresh from a 1:49 victory in last week’s Crown final (mostly due to the misfortunes of Always B Miki and Limelight Beach, who scratched) supplemented to the $35,000 preview of next week’s $301,000 Progress Pace (Nov.30) at Dover Downs. Neither of the scratched Crown rivals are going to this event, certainly one more reason McWicked’s connections felt the investment of $25,000 is worth it.
Another reason McWicked should take most of the win money has to do with the lack of stardom showing up. His main rival is Jk Endofanera, who, if overlooked, will be a mighty over lay. The others are low-profile glamour boys, including Big Boy Dream, National Debt, All Bets Off and Somewhere In LA. Add to that some new faces to the division’s top stakes—Parnu Hanover and Play It Again Sam—and you have a less-than-stellar group.
Trainer Casie Coleman handles Play It Again Sam as well as McWicked.
Big Boy Dreams, the a 24-1 upset winner of the Matron Final at Dover, looks to be nearly as high in the odds as them.
The Ron Burke Stable, sending out Jk Endofanera, also handles All Bets Off, who romped in the Messenger and has quietly earned $908,625 during the season.
Somewhere In LA is Jimmy Takter’s gelding pacer who has won seven times and been in-the-money 17 of 22 starts against the best in the crop.
National Debt, trained by Ron Coyne, never lived up to his frosh success and has struggled to keep pace with the lot and Parnu Hanover is a rank outsider.
All Bets Off is definitely a contender and most likely an overlay on any personal odds line. In a field of this caliber he should be as competitive as ever and that is enough to topple the top two. All Bets Off destroyed McWicked in the Messenger and in Open company a few weeks before. He lost to Big Boy Dreams in the Matron while being the favorite and he comes back from that race.
In the Matron, All Bets Off was hanged in a duel for third in a blazing :52.4 half and tanked with good reason. He has little name recognition to be well supported in this feature and the public will not give driver Matt Kakaley the trust they will to David Miller (McWicked) or Yannick Gingra (Jk Endofanera). The final may not offer the great price you will be promised from All Bets Off, so take it now.
Review our choices and follow the wagering at the prescribed track. These are possible contenders we have judged from reviewing races. The horses’ names are listed beneath the name of the track after the date they will be racing. The race in which they are entered (R and race number) follows. If a + is in front of a horse’s name it means it is appearing on the list for the second (and last time) because it failed to win the first time it appeared. An “ae” signals the horse is entered on the also-eligible list. If a horse is listed twice, refer to the entries on the night of the race since a horse may enter in more than one race. Types of wagering on any of the H2W listed horses are based on your judgment. If you have any questions, email us at TwinSpires.
11/28/14, Armed Dangerously R1
11/29/14, +Ahh Panama R2; Fox Valley Salso R5; Afaceinthecrowd R8; +Get Down Tonight R10; Thetoadamdme R10
11/30/14, Gentle Dragon R11
11/28/14, +Rokingcastle R2; In The Grippers R6; Lucky Amy R12; Non Pareil R12
11/26/14, +Artistic Director R2
11/28/14, Cocktail Attire R9
11/28/14, Fox Valley Shiver R8
11/28/14, Scandalicious R5
11/29/14. Sid Rock R4; Bettor Believe It R5
12/1/14, Ballistic Tip R5; Shemma Star R8; I’m Feelin Good R9; Classic Rock Nroll R9; Justin’s Money R10; Last Chance Harvey R13; Northern River R14
11/28/14, Felica Hall R4; Sally Goodin R5; Bonita Rocks R9; Pantsuit Hillary R13
11/29/14, Gold Star Roger R1; Paxxie R3; Fly’n With Royalty R8
11/29/14, +Linganore R10
11/28/14, +Jelectric R4; +Temptation Queen R5; Imwideawake R10
11/30/14, Speed Hanover R10
11/28/14, Claremont Hanover R8
11/29/14, Northern Regent R2; Western Rival R4; Oh Gee Ding Ding R5; Dragon Power-ae-R6; Wheelaway R8
11/30/14, Rhythmic Moves R5
11/29/14, PL Fighter R5; Good Day Mate R12
Ray Cotolo contributes to each edition.