by Brett Sturman
The 12 Breeders Crown events contested Saturday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono contained no shortage of drama with many decided in thrilling fashion. Some races went a long way in nailing down divisional honors while others will only add fuel to the ongoing debate, especially in the highest-profile awards.
Starting with the 2-year-olds, it looks as though three out of the four divisions should be close to nailed down.
In the 2-year-old filly pace, Warrawee Ubeaut got the better of all her rivals including Tall Drink Hanover in a pretty gritty performance after not clearing until past a :54.2 half mile. That, combined with her all-time record of 1:48:3, leaves her with clear control of the division. Her and Tall Drink Hanover are both staked to the Matron and Three Diamonds but something substantial would need to happen to take it away from Warrawee Ubeaut right now.
Gimpanzee looks to have the 2-year-old colt trotting division in hand after his Breeders Crown win. He’s now 9 for 9 and proved the best over his next closest competitor, stablemate Green Manalishi S. It’s doubtful that those two will meet back up again and Gimpanzee has proven his worth.
Also doing the New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) program proud is Woodside Charm and she will be 2-year-old filly trotter of the year. She was finally tested in the Breeders Crown, but pulled through with something left. She isn’t eligible to either the Matron nor the Goldsmith Maid, whereas some other nice fillies are, but it shouldn’t matter.
The 2-year-old colt pacing division remains up for grabs but Captain Crunch is in the driver’s seat by virtue of his open length Breeders Crown win. In addition to the Crown, he owns a win in the Nassagaweya and a 1:49.1 mark from an International Stallion Stakes win. He’s eligible to both the Matron and Governor’s Cup and you’d think that winning either of those would seal the deal.
On the 3-year-old side, two of the divisions should be settled and two have gotten quite interesting.
Atlanta had the 3-year-old filly trotting division nearly locked up the day she won the Hambletonian against the boys, and solidified her standing in the division when she won the Kentucky Futurity for fillies. Her tough loss when getting caught by a longshot in the Breeders Crown after being hard used early or anything else that happens over the next month won’t change her being tops in the division.
The 3-year-old filly pacing division was locked up prior to the Breeders Crown but the herculean performance from Kissin In The Sand bears mentioning. You could debate the tactics by Gingras to park her out and it looked for a second that Kissin In The Sand was still going to overcome the trip. Should be a unanimous division winner.
The 3-year-old colt trotting division has taken an intriguing turn following the Breeders Crown. Division leader Six Pack was scratched from the final due to sickness and after watching Tactical Landing romp once again, you really have to wonder if Six Pack could have gone with him. That said, Six Pack is probably still in control of the division and should be next seen in the Matron. The trainer of Tactical Landing, Jimmy Takter, said following the race that Tactical Landing could be pointed next to the TVG at the Meadowlands against aged trotters. If Six Pack races in and wins the Matron it would be hard to take it away from him but on the other hand, if Tactical Landing closes out the years with a Breeders Crown win and a TVG win, things would be very interesting.
In the glamour division, I wrote here two weeks ago about the quietly good season that Dorsoduro Hanover was having. After his crushing Breeders Crown win – maybe his best race of the year – I’m here to tell you that you’re looking at the 3YO colt pacer of the year. His resume supports it, and with rivals Courtly Choice having been done for the year and Stay Hungry with a disappointing fourth in a non Breeders Crown race Saturday, Dorsoduro Hanvoer has earned it in a slight nod over Courtly Choice.
All four of the aged divisions seem firm at this point.
Shartin N was as game as ever in her Breeders Crown win and should be unanimous as mare pacer. Homicide Hunter bounced back to his best form and with a Breeders Crown win to go with his all-time fastest 1:48.4 trot mile, he’s a lock for the aged trot division. Despite a Breeders Crown loss, Ariana G has accomplished more than anyone else in what’s been somewhat of an underwhelming division this year and she’ll be crowned as the older trotting mare division winner. McWicked should garner every vote as older pacing horse.
Pacer of the Year: If it wasn’t for McWicked, with a Breeders Crown win and a record at this point of 17 wins from 22 starts, Shartin N should be Pacer of the Year. She’s been remarkably good for so long this season and should be runnerup for the honor ahead of fellow female Kissin In The Sand.
Trotter of the Year: It sure feels like Trotter of the Year belongs to Atlanta. The #1 ranked horse in the sport heading into the Breeders Crown final did nothing to disgrace herself Saturday and she’s been the big story all year long; more than deserving of the honor.
Horse of the Year: Following the Breeders Crown, it’s hard to see Horse of the Year going to anyone but McWicked. His crushing first-over performance in the Breeders Crown left little doubt as to his greatness this year at age 7, and he’s closed out the with a fury. There’s no question that his battles with Lazarus N helped enhance his profile in recent months and he built on that by winning in 1:46.2 earlier this month. Up against a number of worthy contenders following the Breeders Crown, McWicked should be Horse of the Year.