by Garnet Barnsdale
Often in this column I bring to light issues that arise from something negative that might have happened during a race as the result of a controversial ruling or other incidents that are causing a buzz on social media. That’s the gist of the “Buzzworthy” column, normally.
But with stakes season taking off and babies readying for their first starts, I thought I’d change the pace a bit and indulge in what gives me a buzz from this great game of harness racing. As I’m typing this from my picnic table at Mohawk Park, I just watched a great first elimination of the track’s signature race, the North America Cup with Stay Hungry nailing a game Done Well at the wire — buzzworthy!
My weekend began with a trip to Grand River Friday night for my second try at a media race, sitting behind The Stable’s 3-year-old pacing colt Beck’s Pride. Starting farthest out in a field of four, after careful study of the past performances, I thought it would be a good idea to suggest to my co-pilot Robert Shepherd that we could clear to the front. So we left out of there urging our horse on, but last year’s winner, Erin Montgomery, had rail control with her horse, Gogals Card Trick. We were hung out to dry and let’s just say that we picked up a check. Still, it’s always a buzz sitting behind one and someday I may actually beat a horse!
Next, my friend Gary Guy allowed me to indulge and call race 10, and I think it was one of my better calls as there was only a head separating the top two finishers at the wire and I managed to get the winner – Pound Sterling — correct. I also got a buzz out of Scott Young winning the race because it’s always fun to announce him as “The Answer”. I always get a great buzz out of calling a race.
Fast forward to Saturday morning where I was hoping to make it to the two-year-old qualifiers to not only see my gelding Kandy Mac in action, but also to enjoy some of the free breakfast generously supplied by the Woodbine Entertainment Group. But because I woke up late and still had some writing to finish, I was relegated to watching the live feed at home. When Kandy Mac was 13 1/2 length in arrears as they hit the half in 1:01.2, I was hopeful that I might see something in the back half, and I wasn’t disappointed. The Ohio-bred son of Rompaway Wally – half-brother to local $300K earner Spartan Victory — came wide at the 3/4 and although he finished seventh of nine, he trotted a back half in :58.1 and registered the fastest last 1/4 of :28. There was certainly plenty to be buzzed about from that first competitive mile from Kandy Mac and I was cheering him on loudly from my couch. It could be a fun year with Kandy Mac.
Next, I was off to Mohawk Park to not only take in the North America Cup eliminations, but also to guest on the pre-game show with Chad Rozema, which was a first for me and was a blast as we analyzed the evening’s actions and made a few predictions.
I sit here in my favorite spot finishing this column with the action going on behind me having already cashed on the Pick 5 realizing that just about everything about this game causes a buzz for me. Granted, it has its issues, but for me, it’s still the greatest game in the world!