by Brett Sturman
The eight Breeders Crown races to be contested tonight (October 29) at Woodbine Mohawk Park are fraught with intrigue and have the potential to go a long way in determining divisional honours, as well as leaving horses with lasting legacies. Here is my race-by-race recap.
RACE 2 — CROWN MARE TROT BREEDERS
In what is shaping up to be the penultimate run of his illustrious Hall of Fame career, Atlanta is evaluating a live chance to earn what would be his first Breeders Crown win. She has rebounded well since she last raced here in September in the Maple Leaf Trot where she was passed, including a 1:50.3 last win in Allerage Farms in her last Red Mile appearance. . She enjoyed the pocket trick behind Next Level Stuff that day and was able to hold off familiar rival When Dovescry who tried to track her down from third place that day. You’d think Atlanta will be looking to take the lead over Bella Bellini who didn’t shoot her best in her last pair, but now it’s back on the big track which will obviously suit her style much better.
Choice: Atlanta, Bella Bellini, Next Level Stuff
RACE 3 — BREEDERS CROWN MARE PACE
It looks like Test Of Faith is ripe for a surprise in both of her runs, but that still doesn’t matter as she still has an answer and still continues to be the best of this bunch. Last week, Longshot So Much More had room to rally inside and watched for a while as she was going to sprint but could never clear and missed by a nose. Mikala caught the eye at the end of that same race, coming from last to finish in a length and a half. Test Of Faith got her number, but she continues to be close to this foe, just like she was during Milton’s elimination and finale. Grace Hill came from last and weaved through traffic to somehow score in Breeders Crown’s other elimination last week, doing so in a run with no rhythm, no less. . A win or a second would net him over a million dollars for his career. Racine Bell should probably have lasted out of this mild: 56.4 half miles; is going to Sears for the second time and going ahead early as usual.
Choice: Test Of Faith, Mikala, Grace Hill
RACE 4 — CROWN OF 3-YEAR-OLD BREEDERS
In one of the first clashes on the entire Breeders Crown event, Joviality and Jiggy Jog get into a race that could influence the division. Both were winners off the beat last week and for Joviality in particular, she came from further off the beat than she perhaps has been all year. Known primarily for her gate speed, she had been booked for a long time, then blasted home to win as she pulled away from Misswalner Fashion who couldn’t fend her off despite the two-hole drive. She still starts a few slots outside of Jiggy Jog, but won’t be as disadvantaged as she was two starts back when she had to start from the second tier. Like Joviality, Jiggy Jog closed in :26.2 last week and in doing so stopped the clock in 1:51.2. She had open lengths to catch up on Fashion Schooner who, for a short while there, looked like she was in position to slip away but couldn’t stop Jiggy Jog’s late-running onslaught. . Warrawee Xenia may have lost a bit of her shine over the past few weeks, but she was loaded late last week after gaining ground. McClure had to negotiate traffic and just missed out on second place.
Choice: Jiggy Jog, Joviality, Warrawee Xenia
RACE 5 — 3YOFP BREEDERS CROWN
It was quite a comeback for last year’s division champion Niki Hill as she has already picked up victories in Bluegrass and Glen Garnsey since returning from an injury suffered in May. This recent qualifier against Treacherous Dragon here at Woodbine Mohawk Park a week ago could have been a preview of the main event. In that morning race, Treacherous Dragon started from second place, Zeron kinda urging her to get along as Dunn urging Niki Hill before the matter was settled late; post 10 may not make things easier. Treacherous Dragon was excellent as mentioned in this qualifying and makes its first start since winning the Jugette; looks dangerous. Gallucci teammates Silver Label and Prohibition Legal finished 1-2 in their Ontario Sire Stakes Gold Super Final. Sea Silk yielded badly from the pocket after being used on its last use, but can rebound. Queen Of Success showed a new dimension last and she was strong despite a redesign; encouraging.
Choice: Traitor Dragon, Queen of Success, Niki Hill
RACE 6 — 3YOCT BREEDERS CROWN
This split for 3-year-old male trotters has been one of the most open splits all year, so it’s no surprise that last week’s Breeders Crown eliminations produced winners with odds of 7-1 and 28-1. The larger of the two upsets, King Of The North, was last year’s champion 2-year-old and last week’s knockout win was his first win of the year, in his 12th start. But he had run well in many races before his elimination, so it’s not like that best mile ever of 1:51.1 was a total shock. Donning the headgear in victory last week with the ‘WW’ emblem, champion Thoroughbred trainer Wesley Ward is part of the King Of The North ownership group, and he could be very much alive for a doubled Breeders Crown-Breeders’ Cup in the coming week. Cool Papa Bell was wildly overbet last week given it was only a knockout race, and performed well to close out of a hopeless spot that should serve him well in the final. He can close a ton and it won’t be easy from an outside position, but a victory in this race could be enough to give this year’s Hambletonian winner division honours. Slay got the second trip on his elimination, but I think he may have been caught a bit off guard by deep inside Double Deceiver who snuck down the rail from the last one. Slay has been amazing here three times winning the Canadian Trotting Classic; Double Deceiver could use another Miller Magic direction. Branded By Lindy took second cover early before finding her best stride late. Fast As The Wind seems to be in line for a good trip inside; could surprise in an open event.
Choice: Cool Papa Bell, King in the North, Slay
RACE 7 — 3YOCP BREEDERS CROWN
In the glamor division, the two favorites delivered as expected in their eliminations and set the stage for what should be an exciting race. Bythemissal continues to run on a tear, and I thought his victory last week was scary. I don’t think Page moved the bike at all throughout the stretch; I guess he was so confident. From position two, not only does he have the position advantage over his main opponent, but his stable mate Birthday lands the rail. This could make the strategic advantage all the more important. Pebble Beach has now won back to back after five straight runners-up, and McCarthy got it last week earlier than usual. He is likely to be placed up front again as he looks to replicate his North American Cup success at this track earlier in the year. I Did It Myway tried hard to get to Bythemissal last week, just like he tried hard when he rallied two in Lexington against Pebble Beach; a high quality horse may only need to be within striking distance to get home. Ponda Warrior was hugely impressive last week when they were knocked out at Woodbine Mohawk via Hoosier Park. The Indiana Sire-Stakes champion closed with a ton of room in his elimination to narrowly miss second place; looks like him and Zeron got along well. Greatest Ending picks up a new driver in Gingras. Fourever Boy may have lost a touch since early September.
Choice: Bythemissal, I did it my way, Pebble Beach
RACE 8 — BREEDERS CROWN OPEN TROT
Fashion Frenzie has only lost once this year and that was in the Maple Leaf Trot, a race in which it has been actively used.
length winner a few weeks ago in the Open Handicap, and it was a race in which Forbidden Trade sat well right behind them the whole way but couldn’t make a real impression. A ton of credit should be given to Greg Wright Jr. for the work with Jujubee and the progress last year’s Breeders Crown winner has made since returning to racing in September. His last victory in the Allerage was well deserved and is again a major player. Back Of The Neck was mighty when last seen here at Woodbine Mohawk in the Maple Leaf Trot, a race he won with surprising ease. He has since followed that up with a similar score off the pace at Dayton and no shame with his terrific try at Yonkers International. Team D last went on a Speed Mission in Yonkers in a mile and a half run and folded. More important now is the driver change for Dunn.
Choice: Fashion Frenzie, Ecurie D, Dos Du Cou
RACE 9 — BREEDERS CROWN OPEN PACE
The Breeders Crown main event is reserved for Bulldog Hanover, and it’s back to business no longer having to toy with the idea of racing just to break another speed mark. His and Dunn’s goal will now be to win the Breeders’ crown and lock in Horse of the Year, something he will be heavily favored to do as his season for the Ages draws to a close. Pay homage to Allywag Hanover for sticking with Bulldog Hanover and passing it; he always looked like a major threat at every stage of this race in the Allerage. His previous two races against Bulldog Hanover were horrible trips, so it’s not like his win was a total fluke; it is possible that he could again provoke anger. The tattoo artist thrived with James MacDonald at the wheel; wasn’t terribly outplayed against Bulldog Hanover in the Canadian Pacing Derby.
Choice: Bulldog Hanover, Allywag Hanover, tattoo artist