Saturday harness preview

Ted Black

November 14th, 2014

As noted in the Friday preview, this weekend and next the Meadowlands will take center stage as the one-mile New Jersey oval hosts the various Breeders Crown eliminations for trotters and pacers of all ages with the finals slated for next weekend. The sport's popular slogan "It All Comes Down to the Breeders Crown" will have added weight this year since the 12 finals could decide the majority of divisional honors and horse of the year.

Saturday evening's second race at the Meadowlands is the first $25,000 Breeders Crown elimination for two-year-old colt trotters. In a division that has no genuine standout, the two elims and next week's final will almost assuredly decide the freshman champ. Among the serious contenders in this division are Pinkman, hero of the $460,000 Valley Victory final at Woodbine last month, Habitat, recent winner of the $200,000 Matron Stakes at Dover Downs and Centurion ATM (Ake Svandstedt) who emerged on the scene this summer by taking the $350,000 Peter Haughton Memorial final at the Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day.

Two races later in the second, $25,000 Breeders Crown elimination for freshman trotting colts, again any number of juveniles could prevail and then impact the final and divisional honors. True Blue Stride will look to rebound from an early miscue as the 3-1 second choice in the $240,000 Kindergarten at Vernon Downs. Muscle Diamond was a sharp second behind Habitat last week in the Matron at Dover. French Laundry (Brett Miller) has won six of 10 starts and banked over $240,000 for trainer Jim Takter, including a recent score in the Kindergarten at Vernon. Uncle Lasse (Ron Pierce) owns a solid 4-4-1 slate and $325,000 bankroll from 11 starts and was second to Pinkman in the Valley Victory, while Cruzado Del Noche (David Miller) was a good third in the Matron.

Then one race later in the fifth in the first of two, $25,000 Breeders Crown eliminations for three-year-old colt pacers, this contentious field and next week's final will certainly help determine year-end honors in the sport's wide open glamour division. JK Endofanera (Pierce) has won 10 of 16 starts and earned nearly $950,000 this year, but was fifth as the choice in the Monument Circle at Hoosier Park last out. Always B Miki (David Miller) has won four straight for trainer Joe Holloway, including sharp scores in both the Tattersalls at Lexington and the Monument Circle. He's Watching (Tim Tetrick), last year's two-year-old champ, has won five of 12 starts and earned roughly $825,000, but he has not been the same since winning the Meadowlands Pace here in 1:46.4.

Then two races later in the seventh, the second $25,000 Breeders Crown elimination for three-year-old colt pacers, most of the attention will focus on two horses with a shot at the final next week and possibly divisional honors. McWicked owns a 9-4-4 slate and earnings of just over $1 million this year from 19 outings, but he has not looked sharp in finals for the Little Brown Jug, Messenger Stakes or the Matron and would have to improve considerably to be a factor here. On the outside, Limelight Beach (Gingras) owns a 4-8-1 slate and $600,000 bankroll for trainer on Burke, highlighted by a wire-to-wire score in the Little Brown Jug.

One race later in the eighth, the first of two, $25,000 Breeders Crown eliminations for two-year-old colt pacers, this group appears headed for minor spoils since the sport's top freshman pacing colt, Artspeak, has been sidelined for the remainder of the campaign. Lost For Words (David Miller) has won five of 11 starts and nearly $200,000 for trainer Brian Brown, but he was dismal in the Governor's Cup final at Woodbine and will race on Lasix for the first time. Burke trainees Rich Wisdom (Matt Kakaley) and Lyons Again (Gingras) have displayed glimpses of ability in various elimination races.

Two races later in the 10th, the $25,000 Breeders Crown elimination for older trotters, six of the 10 participants will return for next week's final as Commander Crowe, Creatine, Intimidate and Market Share have all accepted byes into the final. Sebastian K, the leading older trotter in the land and a contender for horse of the year honors, is bypassing this event to focus on the TVG Free-For-All Trot here on November 29.

Among those expected to return for the Breeders Crown Open Trot final are Your So Vain (Svandstedt), Master Of Law (Takter), Sevruga (Andy Miller), Archangel (Gingras) and Maven (Gingras) the lone mare in the field. Maven, a winner three times in 11 starts this year who boasts 28 wins and earnings of $1.6 million from 51 career outings, had the misfortune of drawing post 10 on the far outside. But the talented, durable mare only needs to beat four rivals to earn a berth in next week's lucrative final.

Then one race later in the 11th, the second $25,000 Breeders Crown elimination for freshman pacing colts, a quartet of juveniles will look to gather some momentum heading into the final where divisional honors will likely not be up for grabs. Lyons Levi Lewis (Pierce) was second at 120-1 in the Matron last out for Burke. Bet You (Brett Miller) rallied to get third in the Matron for Takter. Tomy Terror (Corey Callahan) has only been worse than second once in 11 lifetime starts. Cartoon Daddy (Gingras) was the New York Sire Stakes champion for this division for Burke, while In The Arsenal (Brian Sears) has won six of nine starts for trainer Kelvin Harrison, including open stakes scores in the Matron and Lawrence B. Sheppard, although he will have to overcome post 10 in this elimination to reach next week's final.