Handicapping the Hoosiers Breeders Crown

by Brett Sturman

The state of Indiana plays host this weekend to the Breeders Crown for the first time, and I wonder how many of the connections will be watching the basketball film classic Hoosiers in search of some Crown inspiration. Will trainers of the Indiana-sired horses in the Crown be re-enacting Gene Hackman’s “I think you’ll find these exact same measurements as our gym back in Hickory” in preparation for the big game speech? That’s tough to say for sure, but here is analysis for the twelve races for tonight and Saturday night.

Friday, October 27

Race 7 $250,000 Mares Trot

The first Crown race of 12 over the next two nights features only four horses with the scratch of Pasithea Face S and it should result in a walk in the park for EMOTICON HANOVER. She’s been unbeatable since summer and CAPRICE HILL tried to go with her on Jug day but couldn’t; the other two mares in here have earned $39,000 and $44,000 this year respectively.

Race 8 $600,000 2YOFT

MANCHEGO and PHAETOSIVE square off for the third time, and will it be the charm for Phaetosive. In both previous races it has been Manchego with the tactical advantage while the Smedshammer trainee has either been first over or too far back. I do think Manchego can be had but his main competitor won’t offer a big enough price to try. Meanwhile, Manchego is suddenly emerging as a Horse of the Year candidate and a convincing Crown win would help in further making his case.

Race 9, $500,000 3YOFP

I think it’s safe to say that even with $376,000 in earnings this year that IDYLLIC BEACH has underachieved, but her last pair have been as good as we’ve seen her all year. She’s peaking at the right time for Takter and is good enough to take this. AGENT Q has been consistent all year and while there’s nothing flashy about her, she does what she needs to and is an obvious threat. BLAZIN BRITCHES went a big mile following the break two back but then wasn’t strong last out; tough to predict right now. CAVIART ALLY needs to bounce back and NYSS stars TEQUILA MONDAY and OBVIOUS BLUE CHIP have the misfortune of landing the two outside posts.

Race 10, $500,000 3YOFT

ICE ATTRACTION proved that her upset over ARIANA G in the Filly Futurity was no fluke as she followed up that race with a solid performance last week in her elimination. Going from the pole to post 10 won’t help but she does have speed and will offer a big price; barn has been going well lately. ARIANA G finally lost to this group last out and that minor hiccup aside is the obvious one to beat as always. DREAM BABY DREAM moves all the way inside and hasn’t been disgraced while racing against this group; could be in the thick of it a huge price with a little luck. DREAM TOGETHER broke last out but prior to that slugged it out against Ariana.

Race 11, $600,000 2YOFP

REIGN ON ME had good pace on both ends of her mile last out in her elimination and what’s not to like from Norman and Sears from the rail. Well Said filly took a giant step up and showed she can handle it; will be driven with confidence tonight. YOUAREMYCANDYGIRL brushed and crushed last week in a fast elimination time as the 1-9 favorite; good matchup coming with her and #’s 1 and 3. RAINBOW ROOM jogged last week but will get a stern test tonight; daughter of the great Rainbow Blue seeks revenge on #4 from their International Stallion stake two races ago.

Race 12, $250,000 Mares Pace

It’s been one thing or another for LADY SHADOW in recent months and I know she hasn’t won in awhile, but last week was the best we’ve seen from her since the summer. She now makes her third start back with Adams and is actually now for sale online; expect her to close out career for current connections with a win. DARLINONTHEBEACH tripped out to a big win last week; is a threat to repeat with a similar trip for a dam that was one of my all-time favorites. NIKE FRANCO has won her last two by open lengths and lands the post edge on all her main rivals; would be deserving for her to cap off her campaign with a crown win. PURE COUNTRY doesn’t appear at her best as is the case with many from this barn but she’s beaten all of these at times this year.

Saturday, October 28

Race 7, $526,250 Open Trot

MARION MARAUDER had some late trot two back against Twister Bi and then was belated again last week in his elimination. We all know what he’s capable of and he can pick them all off including the mare with the right setup; offers a price. HANNELORE HANOVER was soundly beaten two back over this track but never faced an anxious moment last week; big favorite can be beaten. CRAZY WOW picks up David Miller as Yannick goes to Hannelore; his best would give him a fighting chance. MAMBO LINDY could be seen late at a huge price if the pace up front falls apart.

Race 8, $600,000 2YOCT

This is a highly competitive group but FOURTH DIMENSION seems to have put forth the best piece of overall work. Sears toyed with his elimination field last week and prior to that was a big win in Lexington; the one to beat. Haughton winner YOU KNOW YOU DO seems to have tailed off a bit lately but it’s still YG and Takter and now he lands an inside post; may surprise. CRYSTAL FASHION will be up close from the rail but was no match for the top choice two back. FIFTYDALLARBILL proved last week that he can go with these; Trace Tetrick has a legitimate chance. MET’S HALL will bring his customary early speed.

Race 9, $600,000 2YOCP

SHNITZLEDOSOMETHIN impressed last week and the Fred and Ginger Indiana-bred proved that he can go with the big colts. He has early speed and Wrenn will play his hand early; rates just as good a chance as any. KARPATHIAN KID is a deserving short priced contender from the rail for Dave and Erv Miller as a convincing elimination winner last week; the rail is a big plus. STAY HUNGRY is out of the great My Little Dragon and he was another elimination winner with a solid late burst; a case can be made here as well as with LOST IN TIME. CLOSING STATEMENT made a big middle move last week and that could tighten him for the final; all of the sudden THIS IS THE PLAN will offer a big price from post 10.

Race 10, $527,500 3YOCT

WHAT THE HILL returned to racing where he likes it best and took them all the way in his elimination on the front end. He can be hit or miss but I like him best in here. I doubt he’ll win any year-end honors, but you have to admit that a Crown win, a Canadian Trotting Classic win and a first past the wire Hambletonian is a nice resume. INTERNATIONAL MONI stormed by everyone last week to win impressively and when he’s good, he has a dangerous late move. Only needs to maintain that form to sweep by them all once again. LINDY THE GREAT bottomed out a weak elimination field; I’d be surprised if he got there now.

Race 11, $527,500 3YOCP

How about DOWNBYTHESEASIDE last week? Just when you think he’s tailing off he pulls a down the road mile from the outside. Sears obviously knew he was good that night and with his arch rivals being vanquished last week in the other elimination it’s clearly his to win or lose tonight. BOOGIE SHUFFLE did all he could last out from second but was no match for the winner; hasn’t yet broken through against these types but it always close. PHOTOBOMBR HANOVER is in deceptively good form right now for Fanning and I wouldn’t be quick to dismiss despite longshot status; was overloaded last out.

Race 12, $421,000 Open Pace

MCWICKED sat off the duel between MACH IT SO and SINTRA last week and flew late in :25.4 to just miss. He was motoring just as well two back in the Allerage and there’s no question that Coleman has him going well right now; rates a big chance at a fair price. MACH IT SO was as stellar last out and that’s not the first time this year he’s come up with a big mile on the front end; Dave Miller opting to him for the final is a huge vote of confidence. DEALT A WINNER loses Miller but gives Aaron Merriman the chance to notch his first ever Breeders Crown win; impossible to fault his form right now for Harder. KEYSTONE VELOCITY is coming back around; Erv Miller down again as trainer.