Saturday harness preview

Ted Black

November 21st, 2014

Saturday evening will mark the second day of the two-night festivities surrounding the Breeders Crown finals and the phrase "It All Comes Down to the Breeders Crown" will reach its zenith this evening when the eight finals will determine upwards of seven divisional honors and almost assuredly horse of the year.

Since its inception in 1984 the Breeders Crown has impacted the voting for divisional honors and horse of the year more than any other event in harness racing and Saturday evening the eight finals will likely crown - pardon the pun - seven more champs and horse of the year. In fact, this year's Breeders Crown finals could set the stage for something unprecedented in the eight decades of horse of the year voting.

The first final is slated as the fourth, the $500,000 Breeders Crown final for two-year-old colt trotters. Among the serious contenders for this event are Jim Takter trainees Pinkman (Yannick Gingras) and French Laundry (Brett Miller), both of which won their eliminations last weekend, and Habitat (Brian Sears) and Muscle Diamond (John Campbell). In a group that does not offer a standout, the winner of this event will likely claim divisional honors.

But most of the public's attention will be focused on a fantastic filly in the next race, the $500,000 Breeders Crown final for two-year-old filly pacers. Since the beginning of her career, JK She'salady (Tim Tetrick) has trounced her opponents and wowed onlookers with her stellar late kick and she will head into this event unbeaten in 11 lifetime starts and the favorite to become the first two-year-old filly pacer ever to capture horse of the year honors since the award was established 75 years ago.

JK She'slady won her elimination last week in handy, first over fashion and tonight her date with perfection and immortality will get tested against a quartet of freshman pacing fillies trained by Ron Burke. Southwind Roulette, Well Hello There, Bettor N Better and Sassa Hanover, a filly that Gingras mistakenly chose over JK She'salady last week, will seek to thwart the fantastic filly's bid for an unbeaten season and then keep the horse of the year hopes alive for other pacers and trotters on the card.

One race later in the sixth, the $400,000 Breeders Crown Open for older pacers, another quartet of Burke trainees will seek the top prize and divisional honors in a wide open event.

Bettor's Edge (Matt Kakaley) owns an 8-7-4 slate and $675,000 bankroll from 28 starts this year and recently captured the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby. Foiled Again (Gingras) has enjoyed yet another banner season at age 10, posting a 6-7-5 slate and $720,000 bankroll from 24 starts this year and now boasts an exceptional 82-56-32 slate from 222 lifetime starts with a record career bankroll of nearly $6.75 million.

Clear Vision (Tetrick) owns an identical 6-7-5 slate and $490,000 bankroll from 27 starts this year, while summer sensation Sweet Lou (Ron Pierce) has won 10 of 17 starts and banked over $1 million but will head into the Crown looking to end a four-race skid. At one point, Sweet Lou was considered a cinch for champion older pacer and pacer of the year and a contender for horse of the year, but even a victory on Saturday night may not restore his chances of winning more than one of those titles.

One race later in the seventh, the $500,000 Breeders Crown final for two-year-old colt pacers, elim winners Traceur Hanover (Andy Miller) and Go Daddy Go (Campbell) will look to continue their newfound success although divisional honors will likely not be decided tonight since Metro and Governor's Cup champion Artspeak appears to have a lock on the award despite bypassing the Crown for a long vacation.

But onlookers should also keep close tabs on both Lost For Words (David Miller) and In The Arsenal (Sears) despite drawing posts nine and 10, respectively. Both Lost For Words and In The Arsenal were the beaten favorites in their respective eliminations last week and either one could make immediate amends this evening. In The Arsenal has already won two major stakes and looms a serious chance despite his unlucky outside draw.

One race later in the eighth, the $280,000 Breeders Crown Open Mare pace, a quartet of distaffers could capture this event and depart with divisional honors. Voelz Hanover won last week's prep in 1:51.2; Somwherovrarainbow can prevail if she is on her game; Yagonnakissmeornot has won her last two starts against Open F-M pacers and Pocono Downs and sports 14 wins in 29 starts overall, while Anndrovette was a solid second as the even-money favorite in the prep last weekend.

One race later in the ninth, the $500,000 Breeders Crown final for three-year-old colt trotters, a pair of Takter trainees will likely decide divisional honors and potentially trotter of the year and perhaps join Jk She'salady on the short list of finalists for horse of the year.

Nuncio (Campbell) has won 11 of 16 starts and earned nearly $1.4 million this year while never finishing worse than second. He finished second behind stablemate Trixton in the Hambletonian, but has since won the Kentucky Futurity, Yonkers Trot and Matron Stakes and will look to forever emerge from the shadows of his illustrious stablemates by capping the season with a Crown victory.

Father Patrick (Gingras) arrives with an identical record of 11 wins and $1.4 million bankroll from 16 starts this year, but like Sweet Lou he may have peaked too soon. Father Patrick broke stride as the favorite in the Hambo and has since failed to win another major stakes. When he stays flat he owns a tactical advantage over Father Patrick in his ability to leave the gate quickly, but he will have to return to midseason form in order to regain some of his lost luster.

Then one race later in the 10th, the $500,000 Breeders Crown final for three-year-old colt pacers, the winner of this event will likely garner the title of divisional champion during a year in which none of the sophomore colt pacers has truly stood out.

McWicked (Sears) owns a 9-5-4 slate and $1 million bankroll from 20 starts this year, but raced well in defeat first over last week while getting Lasix for the first time. Always B Miki (David Miller) has won 12 of 19 starts and earned $800,000 this year for trainer Joe Holloway and arrives as the "now horse" with five straight wins, including last week's elim score in 1:50. Limelight Beach (Gingras) owns a 5-8-1 slate and $620,000 bankroll from 19 starts, including a 1:49.3 elim score last week and a prior victory in the prestigious Little Brown Jug. JK Endofanera (Pierce) has won 10 of 17 starts and banked over$950,000 for Burke and was a sharp second in his elim last week and merits respect here.

Then in the 11th, the $500,000 Breeders Crown Open Trot, a handful of horses could prevail here although likely divisional champion Sebastian K, who like Father Patrick and Sweet Lou peaked earlier this summer, is bypassing the event.

Among the serious contenders are Market Share (Tetrick) who has won 4 of 16 starts and over $440,000 this year but appears to be past his prime. Maven (Gingras), a recent $750,000 Harrisburg sale purchase who won her elim from far back last week in her first start for Takter and could upend the boys again this evening. Creatine (Pierce) and Intimidate (Miller) both own prior stakes scores, while European standout Commader Crowe will look to push his career earnings past $5 million by garnering the 61st victory of his 108-race career.

When the stonedust settles on Saturday night, harness racing will have likely crowned all eight division champions, pacer of the year and horses of the year. If Jk She'salady captures her Crown final to complete an undefeated season, the freshman filly phenom could become the first two-year-old pacing filly to ever attain horse of the year honors. But if she suffers a stunning setback, the door could be left open for Nuncio, Father Patrick, Shake It Cerry or even an idle Sebastian K to claim the coveted title.