Hollywood’s Hits: Breaking down the Breeders Crown
by Bob Heyden
To summarize the Breeders Crown held last weekend at Hoosier Park, let’s start with the numbers:
There have been 394 Breeders Crown races total in the 34 years of the series.
It’s now been 32 years since the Hambletonian and Meadowlands Pace winners both won the Breeders Crown. This year, neither Perfect Stride nor Huntsville made it to the Crown.
Five horses that earned a check in the Hambletonian did not make it to the Breeders Crown finals. Meanwhile, the five horses that failed to earn a check in the Hambletonian final all made it to the Breeders Crown final, highlighted by Crown winner What The Hill, who was disqualified from the Hambletonian for interference despite crossing the wire first.
There have been 13 odds-on winners in the Crown in 2016-2017 — eight last year and five this season.
Four of the top six slots in the weekly standardbred poll indicated that female trotters were in contention for Horse of the Year honors. All four won their Breeders Crown: Emoticon Hanover #6, Hannelore Hanover #4, Manchego #2 and Ariana G #1.
No two-year-old trotting filly has ever been named Horse of the Year.
Yannick Gingras, a four-time Crown winner in 2017, has now won the Breeders Crown for two-year-old trotting fillies the last four straight years. He won this year with Manchego after taking that division with Ariana G in 2016, All The Time in 2015 and Mission Brief in 2014.
Meanwhile, neither Brian Sears nor Tim Tetrick won a Breeders Crown in 2017. It’s the first time neither driver has won a Crown since 2002.
Six Breeders Crowns went to Canadian-born drivers and six went to reinsmen born in the United States.
Mark MaCDonald won a Breeders Crown with Pure Country, his third. Doug MCNair won his first ever Breeders Crown with Stay Hungry and Ricky MAComber, Jr. won his first ever Breeders Crown — as did his wife, trainer Jamie MAComber — with Beckhams Z Tam
Muscle Hill led the way with three credits; Swan For All and Somebeachsomewhere had two each, while Kadabra, Rock N Roll Heaven, Rocknroll Hanover, American Ideal and Always A Virgin sired one winner apiece.
There have been 43 sons/daughters of Somebeachsomewhere in the Breeders Crown in 2016-2017. Twelve of the last 20 freshman pacing colts and geldings to go to the post in the Breeders Crown were sired by The Beach.
Trainer Ron Burke recorded his first three-bagger in the Breeders Crown. Lifetime, he now has 13 wins tying him with Chuck Sylvester for third spot.
Burke has three world-record-holding freshman to his credit and all three were Breeders Crown champions the same year they set their records: Youaremycandygirl in 2017 (1:50 world mark for two-year-old pacing fillies); Sweet Lou in 2011 (1:49 record for two-year-old pacing colts) and Mission Brief in 2014 (1:50.3 record for two-year-old trotting fillies).
The 1:47 Breeders Crown record set by Burke’s Won The West in 2009 still has not been lowered in eight years. Sweet Lou’s 1:49 freshman romp of 2011 still stands as the fastest two-year-old mile.
This year’s highest win price was $31 for Jimmy Takter trained Pure Country, the Diamond Creek homebred that was the 2015 Breeders Crown freshman winner the same year she was a perfect 10-for-10. In 2016, Pure Country scored back-to-back divisional titles and now her 2017 Crown win has made her just the second mare to win a Crown at ages two and four. Eternal Camnation was the first to do it in 1999 and 2001. Pure Country is four and it’s tough to win the mare pacer at four, evidenced by the fact that it’s been 16 years since four-year-olds have gone back-to-back in this event — Rons Girl in 2000 and Shore By Five in 2001.
Speaking of Jimmy Takter, he has won 21 of the last 72 Breeders Crown races held — 29.2 per cent. He also produced another undefeated Crown winner in two-year-old trotting filly Manchego, who joins Pure Country (2015) and See You At Peelers (2010) as unbeaten Crown-winning Takter pupils.
Home track advantage
Hoosier Park’s leader driver and trainer both scored Crown victories — driver Trace Tetrick won two Crowns (one each night) and trainer Jamie Macomber posted an emotional victory with Beckhams Z Tam.
Marion Marauder keeps earning
Marion Marauder, who was third in the open trot won by Hannelore Hanover, edged past $2.5 million lifetime — adding to his total of being the sport’s richest ever Triple Crown winner. Marion Marauder was also part of another interesting piece of history. When Pinkman finished just behind Marion Marauder in fourth in the open trot it meant two Hambletonian winners, both over $2.5 million in their careers, finished back-to-back in that one race.
Emoticon Hanover at $165,000 was the most expensive yearling to win a Breeders Crown in 2017. Two others at $150,000 scored — Stay Hungry and Youaremycandygirl.
Six different countries got checks on Friday night alone, yet no Down Under trainer or driver won a Crown at Hoosier.
Age is no barrier
Donald Dupont was the oldest driver in the Crown field at 66. Had he won a Crown, he still would have been three years younger than Carl Allen, who was 69 in 1998 when he drove C R Commando to victory at Colonial Downs.
Eight times Brittany Farms has bred the winner of the two-year-old trotting filly Breeders Crown:
2006 Possess The Magic
2005 Passionate Glide
2004 Flirtin Miss
2002 Pick Me Up
1999 Musical Victory
1994 Lookout Victory
Indiana’s connection to HOY
In 1985, Nihilator won the Horse of the Year award for part-owner and Indiana resident Robert Gangloff.
Wiggle It Jiggleit the 2015 HOY is Indiana sired.
In 2016, the top three in the balloting for HOY were all Indiana-sired: Always B Miki, Wiggle It Jiggleit and Hannelore Hanover.