Much at stake over three days of Breeders Crown eliminations

Looking at how this year’s fields compare to previous Crown events at Harrah’s Hoosier Park.

by Brett Sturman

Between three separate cards of eliminations this week which began on Thursday (Oct. 19), and finals across two nights next weekend, in all there will be a total of five racing nights contesting Breeders Crown races as the event returns to Harrah’s Hoosier Park for the first time since 2020.

The track first played host to the Breeders Crown in 2017, a year that produced three separate Indiana-sired Breeders Crown winners, and since then, the Indiana program has become one of the top in the country. There’s a few notable 2- and 3-year-olds fresh off strong performances in their Indiana Sires Stakes Super Finals which could make noise in their respective Breeders Crown divisions. With eliminations now underway in Breeders Crown No. 39, here are thoughts to consider as the event plays out over the next two weeks.

Beginning in the 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers, this was the division that here at Hoosier Park in 2020 produced the highest priced win horse in Breeders Crown history when Sandbetweenmytoes got up in a blanket finish to pay a miraculous $409.80. The odds-on favorite and runner-up in that race was Tall Dark Stranger and at this rate, the sports unanimously top-rated horse Confederate is looking even more unbeatable coming into his Breeders Crown elimination.

The 3-year-old colt and gelding division has three eliminations and outside of Confederate who goes in the first of the three on Saturday (Oct. 21), the third elimination has some intrigue to it. In that race, last year’s Governor’s Cup winner and this year’s high quality 3-year-old, El Rey debuts for new connections who bought him just days ago for $525,000 through online auction onGait. As a result of the sale, he’ll switch barns from Tony Alagna to Andrew Harris, who also co-owns.

El Rey comes off what I’d consider his best performance of the year to date, when he came from nowhere and absolutely flew up the inside in his division of the Tattersalls Pace to just miss against Cannibal (post 7 in the same elimination as El Rey). Between that race and the change in scenery, it’ll be fascinating to see what he produces on Saturday in his first race off the big money purchase. Harris has listed Dexter Dunn to drive and while Dunn is also listed on the Ryder-trained Admiral Hill in the same elimination where I’d expect loyalty to be considered, I’d be surprised if he didn’t go to El Rey.

One of the records set at Hoosier in the Breeders Crown in 2020 was for the 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters, when On A Streak trained by Luc Blais won in a stake’s record 1:52.4. Weather will certainly play a factor but you’d think that if the conditions are reasonable enough, with horses such as T C I and Karl on a collision course to rematch and who just went in 1:51.4, albeit at Lexington, that record from 2020 could be set to fall. Representing the locals in the division will be Musclefantastic and Dashing Danny who cost just $17,000 and $7,000 respectively, as yearlings out of the 2022 Northern Indiana Yearling Sale. Those two horses finished 1-2 last week in their ISS Super Final. By winning the Peter Haughton Memorial at this track last month in September, T C I received an automatic entry into next week’s final.

Another record set at the last Hoosier Park Breeders Crown was that of Peaky Sneaky in the 2-year-old pacing filly division, and with the way this year’s crop is looking that time of 1:49 may be approached. Aside from speed records, the winner of the Breeders Crown in this hotly contested division will go a long way to help sway year-end honors. Realistically, any of these out of Geocentric, My Girl EJ, Its A Love Thing, Pass Line and Caviart Belle would have a case depending on how things go this week and next.

In the first elimination, Pass Line has been exceptional in Canada and most recently captured her OSS Gold Super Final over Its A Love Thing, and those two rivals will start right next to each other from posts 1 and 2 in their upcoming race. With a mark of 1:49.3 taken four races ago when winning an OSS Gold division at Woodbine Mohawk, she stacks up on paper just as good as any of the other best fillies. In the same elimination, Blue Pacific comes off her fastest timed mile when she made a late move off the inside to miss by just a little against a fast filly in her International Stallion Stakes.

In the second elimination, it’s the unbeaten, 8-for-8, Geocentric against My Girl EJ and what a race that’s going to be. These two put on a good one at Pocono in early September and My Girl EJ looked super last out in her International Stallion Stake when going first-time Dunn; Geocentric was equally impressive on that same day in her division of the same stake. Caviart Belle is in that race too, but she hasn’t been as strong in her last two races as she had been prior throughout the season.

The freshman pacing division on the colt and gelding side is equally as competitive, and the Breeders Crown may decide things here as well. A noteworthy barn change comes with Booming Economy, who last out at Lexington made his first start going from Takter to Burke, and held on by a head to win in a new lifetime best of 1:50.3. He wasn’t quite as strong a month ago when he took on similar Breeders Crown foes in his Metro elimination, but could be ready now to try it again against the likes of Newsroom, Captain Albano and Legendary Hanover, to name a few. Even the lesser mentioned Magnifico Hanover, owned and trained by Cote Kiem catches the eye. He impressed at Lexington and has fit extremely well with Sears. Also, in an elimination includes Indiana-sired Noblesville, who comes off a second-place finish to Tellmeitmatters in his ISS Super Final and should garner respect as another entrant from Burke.

In the 3-year-old trotting colt and gelding division, Tactical Approach continues to deliver big when it matters most. Even with another inside rail-skimming score in the Kentucky Futurity, it really was incredible considering it looked like he had no chance of winning from where he was coming from. He and Zeron continue to work magic together and a Breeders Crown win would be the icing on the cake to Tactical Approach’s Hambletonian and Kentucky Futurity wins. Elsewhere in the division’s eliminations, Tyler Borth gets a Breeders Crown chance with Ghostly Casper who comes off a well-deserved OSS Super Final score last weekend. In that same elimination, Helpfirstedition, a $17,000 Michiana Classic Yearling Sale buy, is the lone supplement to this year’s Breeders Crown following his 3-length win in last week’s ISS Super Final.