Three-year-old trotters again in the spotlight

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Ted Black

September 11th, 2015

One week after Habitat captured the $500,000 Yonkers Trot, the second leg of trotting's triple crown while Hambletonian winner Pinkman was disqualified from second, both horses will head to opposing venues this weekend.

Saturday night Mohawk Raceway in Canada will host two eliminations for the Canadian Trotting Classic where a pair of horses will seek redemption.

In the opening race on the card, the first $40,000 Canadian Trotting Classic elim for three-year-old colt trotters, Crazy Wow (Tim Tetrick) will seek to regain his winning ways and ear a berth in next Saturday's $700,000 final. Part of the favored entry with Habitat in the Yonkers Trot, Crazy Wow went off stride before the start and never recovered.

But when Crazy Wow stays flat he is clearly among the best three-year-old colt trotters on the continent. This Ron Burke trainee won the $250,000 Empire Breeders Classic final at Vernon Downs in stellar fashion and later won the $500,000 Colonial at Pocono Downs and his Yonkers Trot elim before jumping early in the final.

Looking to upset Crazy Wow in the first Canadian Trotting Classic elim are a pair of horses trained by Jimmy Takter, who is perhaps still smarting from the double-disqualification of Pinkman and French Laundry in the Yonkers Trot final.

Uncle Lasse (Brian Sears) has the rail and arrives fresh off a sharp, second-place finish in the $350,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final last weekend at Pocono Downs. He had previously carved out the factions in the Colonial before settling for third and he had also earned a berth in the Hambo final where he finished third. He draws the rail and has speed to be forwardly placed.

Two spots to his outside is the other Takter trainee, French Laundry. Although his three wins this season have come against modest opposition, he has earned his way into the Hambo and Yonkers Trot finals and was fifth in the Colonial. He finished fourth last week in the Yonkers Trot final only to be placed sixth for being the other half of the entry with Pinkman, who was disqualified for interfering with two rivals on the far turn.

Two races later on the card, Pinkman (Yannick Gingras) will get his chance of redemption in the second Canadian Trotting Classic elim. Since winning the Hambo, Pinkman has galloped in the Colonial, was second in his Yonkers Trot elim and then was second in the final, initially, only to be disqualified for interfering with two horses on the far turn.

While Pinkman will leave from post five as the 4-5 favorite, Canepa Hanover will start just inside of him. This Takter trainee ended a five-race skid last weekend when he captured the faster split of the Simcoe Stakes in first over fashion in 1:53.3. On his best day, he is probably the second-best sophomore trotter in Takter's barn and perhaps owns a fitness edge over the top one right now.

On the far outside in post seven is another Takter trainee with his eyes on the final - The Bank. A sharp winner of the $350,000 PASS final last weekend at Pocono Downs, The Bank (Takter) has also danced some serious dances this summer. He was second in the Colonial, fourth in the Hambo final and earlier won the Stanley Dancer Memorial at the Meadowlands. He looms another serious contender this week and next.

Looking to foil the Takter-trained trio is Centurion ATM (Ake Svandstedt), who draws the rail and has plenty of ability when he minds his manners. Centurion ATM broke stride as the favorite in his Yonkers Trot elim and failed to earn a berth in the final and previously he won the $200,000 Colonial consolation after failing to earn a berth in the Hambo final. If he stays flat, this Maryland-bred colt will be a major player in the elim and the final.

Two $40,000 eliminations for the Maple Leaf Classic on the Mohawk card will highlight the older trotters, which should set the stage for a stellar and dramatic $680,000 final next weekend.

In the eighth race, the first Maple Leaf Classic elim attracted the two best trotters in training in JL Cruze and Bee A Magician and they will sandwich another talented sort in E L Titan.

JL Cruze (John Campbell) has been the Cinderella story of the year, winning 16 of 19 starts and earning over $620,000 for trainer Eric Ell and owner Kenny Wood. After opening the campaign with a bevy of wins against restricted foes, JL Cruze has proven he can tackle older foes and now gets another chance to display his talents on the big stage while seeking to atone for a fourth-place effort in the $100,000 Sebastian K Invitational last month at Pocono Downs.

Two spots to his outside is the durable mare, Bee A Magician (Brian Sears), who another chance to topple the boys in the Maple Leaf. Following a subpar season at age four one year ago after taking home horse of the year honors at age three in 2013, Bee A Magician has won eight of 11 starts and was second in each of her three setbacks while banking nearly $550,000 this year. She boasts 39 wins and career earnings of nearly $3.3 million.

Between JL Cruze and Bee A Magician is E L Titan, who notched his first win of the year last month when he rallied to capture the $100,000 Sebastian K Invitational at Pocono. He looks certain to earn a berth in next week's final, but upending JL Cruze and Bee A Magician on the same night is a tall task for him or any trotter.

Then two races later in the second Maple Leaf elim, literally all seven older trotters have a chance. From the rail out the field reads Flanagan Memory, Obrigado, Market Share, Intimidate, Daylon Magician, Resolve and D'One. It seems hard to fathom that two of those talented trotters will not be back for next week's final.

Also on the Mohawk card fans will have the chance to see a pair of the season's best freshmen pacers, one filly and one colt, both arriving off sharp wins one week ago.

In the ninth, L A Delight will rule as the 1-5 favorite for trainer Bob McIntosh, having won eight of nine starts and over $400,000 this year. She prevailed handily in the $400,000 She's A Great Lady final last weekend over the oval.

Two races later on the card, Control The Moment will put his unbeaten record on the line when he goes postward as the 1-5 choice in the $120,000 Champlain Stakes. Control The Moment has won all seven of his starts this year for trainer Brad Maxwell and arrives off a sharp score in the $500,000 Metro Stakes final.

At Yonkers Raceway on Saturday night, a quartet of $225,000 New York Sire Stakes finals for three-year-olds of both gaits and genders will get top billing, although the one for sophomore trotting colts will garner center stage.

Slated as the seventh race on the card, the $225,000 NYSS final for three-year-old colt trotters features last week's Yonkers Trot hero, Habitat (Jim Morrill, Jr.) and Buen Camino (Trond Smedshammer), who draws the rail and seeks a clean trip after being interfered with by Pinkman on the far turn of the Yonkers Trot last week. When the dust settled after the lengthy inquiry, prompted by an objection from Smedshammer, Buen Camino was eventually moved up to third as two Takter trainees were disqualified to fifth and sixth, respectively.

Habitat will loom as the 1-5 favorite from post three and he should be able to get around Buen Camino to control the early tempo. But the Smedshammer trainee will likely sit a pocket trip throughout and he will be in an ideal striking position turning for home. Should Habitat be slightly off form, Buen Camino could post the shocker.

In the first of the four NYSS finals, slated as the fifth race on the card, look for Lady Winona and Barn Doll to settle the issue in the lane. Then one race later give Band Of Angels (Matt Kakaley) the nod despite drawing post eight in the filly pace final. Then in the eighth, look for Rockin In Heaven to maintain his winning ways and edge the entry of Betting Exchange and My Spirit Soars in the sophomore pacing colt final.

Two races before the NYSS finals get underway, keep close tabs on Always At My Place (George Brennan) in the $350,000 4-year-old Open. An emerging star from trainer Ron Burke's barn, Always At My Place has won six straight races including back-to-back wins at Pocono Downs in 1:48.1 and 1:47.2, respectively, and could become the heir apparent to the throne Foiled Again will someday leave vacant.