by Bob Heyden
There were three New Zealand-bred mares in last Saturday’s $373,000 Matchmaker final and they finished 1-2-3. All three are out of Live Or Die mares!
The winner, Shartin N, won three of her four Matchmaker legs and is now 10 8-1-0 for the year. The runnerup, Sell A Bit N, won two of her four legs and is now 11 5-2-1 for 2018 (And past $750,000 lifetime). The third-place finisher, Motu Moonbeam N, won one leg and is now 14 3-3-3 for the season.
Bagdarin-Nomorenuki and Top Tart — in order — are the three mares by Live or Die, a top performer in the mid-1990s for Val D’Or Farms.
Bit Of A Legend N, the 2016 Levy winner, surged past $2 million lifetime ($2,124,356) with his runnerup finish to Keystone Velocity in the $529,000 Levy final. He was the lone New Zealand representative in the field. Lifetime, the overachiever is 125 43-29-11-meaning that 57.6 per cent of the time he’s been first or second. Rare as can be to see a $2 million career earning pacer with a lifetime mark taken on the half-mile track at Saratoga (1:50.3).
Keying in on Velocity
The two horses that won back-to-back Levy finals are both still active — Foiled Again, the 2009 and 2010 winner and this year’s champ, Keystone Velocity, who also won in 2017 en route to the Older Pacer of the Year Award.
Keystone Velocity has now won the last three $500,000 or higher pots in the industry for the Older Pacing set — the Levy this year and last and the $500,000 Ben Franklin at Pocono in 2017 — for trainer and part-owner Rene Allard.
And he has done his most significant damage at ages 9 and 10. He has 115 career starts, but in just those three $500,000+ races from last year and this, he won $780,500, an average of $260,167 for each in the trio.
In his other 113 career tries, he’s won $863,913, for an average of $7,645 per start.
This and that….
• April 30 marks the 15th anniversary of Brian Sears’ arrival to the Meadowlands. He came in the door in 2003 with $25 million in career earnings (He now closing in on $190 million) and just as quickly had the 2003 Meadowlands Pace favorite and was on his way to a Hall Of Fame career.
• David Miller is back. The leading money-winner among active drivers first cracked the top five at the Meadowlands in 1999 in his debut season. He hit the top three for the initial time in 2001-2002 finishing third each time-and then hit paydirt in 2003 with his Triple Crown win with No Pan Intended, copping his very fist Big M title.
• It’s the end of April, which means remembering a time when the Berrys Creek took some of the ink, especially in 1993-1994-1995 when John Campbell not only won it three straight times for three different trainers, but he posted the three fastest ever Berrys Creeks with:
1993 Vine Street 1:50.2 for Bob McIntosh
1994 Cams Card Shark 1:51 for Bill Robinson
1995 No Standing Around 1:51 for Joe Holloway
• A decade ago, Yannick Gingras within a 6 day span, got the drive on Foiled Again for the very first time (July 13, 2008), and six days later was in the Meadowlands Pace for the ages — the Art Official/Somebeachsomewhere classic.
• When is 3-for-30 not bad? When your name is Armbro Dallas and that was your record for the year entering the 1986 Breeders Crown in California against Forrest Skipper less than a year after he defeated both Forrest Skipper and Nihilator at Garden State Park. How about the 3-for-30 record (30 3-8-4 $182,987) that Zoot Suit posted in his sophomore season (1976), but Norman Woolworth recommended he go stand stud in Sweden and he became the leading sire there for six straight seasons?
• Quick — who was the only driver to pilot Marion Marauder to victory at age two. Roger Mayotte $2.30 won with the future trotting Triple Crown winner at Woodbine on Oct. 1, 2015.
Late April foals of note
April 24, 2007 — Sportswriter, the winner of both the Metro and the NA Cup.
April 25, 1994 — Western Dreamer. The 1997 pacing Triple Crown winner, the first in 14 years to do so at that time, had a wonderful career and is now at Kentucky Horse Park.
April 26, 1976 — Hot Hitter. When he banked better than $800,000 in 1979, he became the first horse in harness history to surpass the $750,000 mark in a single season.
April 27, 1994 — Yankee Glide. He won the Peter Haughton at 2, but wasn’t up to the highlight-reel year of Malabar Man in 1997 at 3. As a stallion, he’s been special and remains the last stallion (trotter or pacer) to go 1-2 in the HOY ballot with progeny — 2006 Glidemaster and Passionate Glide
April 28, 1984 — Call For Rain. Clint Galbraith’s second best horse — sired by the second best horse of 1980, Storm Damage — was a two-time Breeders Crown winner.
April 29, 2007 — Rock N Roll Heaven. Though timed twice in sub-1:50 at 2, the colt from the first crop of 2005 HOY Rocknroll Hanover was a full-fledged star at 3, nailing down his last 10 races. He is the only colt to win $2 million in a single season without capturing a million-dollar race (Wiggle It Jiggleit, a gelding, also did it).
April 30, 1983 — Laughs. Thought of mostly as a half-mile specialist, he ‘laughed’ off that notion in 1986 winning the Meadowlands Pace at 10-1-with Buddy Gilmour driving for Chuck Sylvester.