Final Breeders Crown thoughts as Grand Circuit turns to Hoosier

The Carl Erskine, Monument Circle, Crossroads of America and USS Indianapolis
are all on tap tonight in Indiana.

by Brett Sturman

For all the ups and downs horses can go through over the course of a year – or even two years – the Breeders Crown was the coming full circle for several of the winners.

Starting with the 3-year-old male trotting colts, what a couple of years it’s been for King Of The North. He was one of the first higher profile 2-year-olds to burst onto the scene in the early-season stages when he won the NJSS and Peter Haughton, but he tailed off as that season concluded. Still, it was enough to (rightly) win his Dan Patch divisional honors. This season it’s been the complete opposite. Though racing well throughout much of the year, he entered the Breeders Crown without a win in 11 starts. Now, after back-to-back elimination and final wins in back-to-back new career marks, he’s suddenly a candidate for the division once again. He races at Hoosier tonight (Nov. 4), and more on that in a bit.

The 3-year-old pacing fillies division started off this season figuring to be largely between Niki Hill and Treacherous Dragon. It came down to just that, but no one would have figured all that would have happened in between. After beginning the year a perfect 5-for-5, Treacherous Dragon was one of a couple horses that moved barns from Pelling to Takter under less than publicized circumstances. From there, after winning her initial start with Takter, Treacherous Dragon lost five races in a row and there was a ton of questioning about the barn change throughout the social media landscape. But from there, Takter and Treacherous Dragon righted the ship and have now won the Jugette and Breeders Crown in consecutive races. I’d imagine the win was a validation of sorts for Takter, and Treacherous Dragon now seems the most likely to take home her division.

The same pattern holds true for others, too. Last year’s Breeders Crown winner, Ecurie D began this season with an amazing 1:49.1 win in the Cutler, but then was soon upstaged by new barn mate Alrajah One and was only able to race sparingly the rest of the season. But in what was just his sixth start of the year, Dexter Dunn was given a chance aboard Ecurie D and they jogged in the open trot. Though maybe not how Svanstedt first planned, Ecurie D is likely to get this year’s Dan Patch award for Older Male Trotter based on how he started and finished the year.

Pebble Beach is another that comes to mind. He started the year off as the divisional favorite, won the Pepsi North America Cup and then went through a string of five straight second-place finishes. But he too has closed the
year with a flourish, and by following up his Tattersalls Pace win with a Breeders Crown, he’s solidified his position atop the division. In fact, aside from the Grace Hill win against Test Of Faith, it may turn out that every winner from Saturday’s Breeders Crown races will end up winning their division (Bella Bellini, Jiggy Jog, Treacherous Dragon, King Of The North, Pebble Beach, Ecurie D and last but certainly not least, Bulldog Hanover).


As one of the two co-features on tonight’s card at Harrah’s Hoosier Park, Breeders Crown champion King Of The North is right back in action six days later in the $200,000 Carl Erskine. Fresh off his resounding Crown win in 1:50.3, he’ll warrant heavy favoritism but will have a couple of locals waiting for him. Ponda Adventure has won 12 of 15 on the year and hasn’t been worse than second, and we’ll see how the Swan For All-gelding stacks up. He was second to Cool Papa Bell here in September. Dover In Motion is just 2-for-13 this year after going 8-for-9 last year at 2. I’ll note that he was storming down the outside last week from well out of it in the Circle City and probably would have gone past Ponda Adventure if not for the miscue in deep stretch. He continues to have problems with that, but seems a threat if he can keep it all together. Branded By Lindy couldn’t get close to King Of The North in the Breeders Crown final but did find his best stride late in his elimination; rallies. Golden Wall As loomed in his elimination two back; capable with a trip from the second tier.

On the 3-year-old male pacing side in the $200,000 Monument Circle, Bythemissal is another that races less than a week after his Breeders Crown had looked unstoppable prior to last week. I’m sure the drivers know better than I do, but I wouldn’t think that Bythemissal being eighth early in the race was the ideal strategy from post 2, and there were a few other drives like that too. He now lands the outside post 9 but it shouldn’t matter much if he’s ready to go; simply faster than these. Ponda Warrior had a ton of late pace in his Crown elimination and credit to Zeron for giving him every chance in the Final by securing a good early position. He backed away a bit late, but this is a spot he can do some damage in as the main threat to the favorite. Birthday goes first-time Lasix for Burke; has thrown in some good miles under the radar this year. Yourwishisgranted surprised last week en route to a wire-to-wire score in 1:49.4.

In the $110,000 Crossroads Of America, M-M’s Dream goes from regular-standing driver Widger to Dave Miller and it’ll be interesting to see what comes of that going forward. Her lone loss on the year in 12 starts came at the hands of Fashion Schooner and even that was a solid effort in the Moni Maker. Last out in the Pegasus, M-M’s Dream just got up in the final stride in a race where it looked like Cash Infusion was going to win after wresting away command first-over and holding a steady lead late in the stretch. She has since come back to crush in the Circle City. Bluebird Dove has worked out some nice trips in her last pair and will find this group tougher but does have another nice inside post to work with.

Sea Silk was better in the Breeders Crown final than she was the week prior and her best would obviously be good enough in the $100,000 USS Indianapolis. It wasn’t too long ago that she nearly won the Jugette and has been a staple as one of the best younger fillies in the sport the past two seasons. Galleria Hanover is the stable mate to Sea Silk and she’s another that’s been battling it out against the best sophomore fillies all year; could be a race where the Burke entrants run 1-2. Patsville has prepped for this by running through the Pegasus and Circle City; gets into the race early for DeLong.