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Open Pacers Set For Epic Showdown

Published: October 22, 2015 3:41 pm ET

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The comeback kid is ready to meet the kid who refuses to go away.

Always B Miki and Foiled Again, the winners of last weekend’s Breeders Crown Open Pace eliminations, lead a field of 10 horses into Saturday’s $518,960 final at Woodbine Racetrack. Always B Miki, who is 2-for-2 this year after returning from two separate injuries in the past 11 months, is the 4-5 morning line favourite. Foiled Again, an 11-year-old who is the richest horse in harness racing history, is the 6-1 third choice.

Foiled Again snapped a 12-race skid with his elimination win, which came by 1-1/2 lengths over JK Endofanera in 1:50. JK Endofanera is 3-1 on the final’s morning line.

Saturday’s 12 Breeders Crown championships, with total purses of more than $6 million, begin at 6:30 p.m. at Woodbine.

“How about Foiled Again?” marveled Jimmy Takter, who trains both Always B Miki and JK Endofanera. “He’s tough. Hats off to him.”

Foiled Again, who at the age of seven in 2011 became the only horse older than four to be named the Dan Patch Award-winning Pacer of the Year stateside, has won 85 races and $7.18 million in his career. His Breeders Crown elim victory was his second triumph in 18 starts this season, but he has earned $278,632 thanks to a win in the Battle of Lake Erie and top-three finishes in the William Haughton Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, Quillen Memorial, and Roll With Joe.

“He’s just amazing,” said Shannon Murphy, an assistant to Foiled Again’s trainer Ron Burke. “They always count him out and he always shows up. Yannick said he was as good in his elimination as he’s ever been. He just needed a little bit of luck. He’s just had bad trip after bad trip. When he gets a trip like (last week) where he can sit that long and come first up, he just loves it. He swells right up.”

Foiled Again, owned by Burke Racing Stable, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, and JJK Stables, won the Breeders Crown Open Pace in 2013 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. At the time, he was the oldest horse to ever win a Breeders Crown. Commander Crowe claimed that title from Foiled Again when he won the Breeders Crown Open Trot in 2014 at the Meadowlands at the age of 11.

“Every time people write him off -- I’ve written him off, and I’m done writing him off,” said Yannick Gingras, who drove Foiled Again to victory last weekend and has been behind the gelding for the vast majority of his starts since the horse joined the Ron Burke Stable in 2008. “I’ve done that four or five years in a row and he’s made a liar out of me.

“Wow. He’s unbelievable. It’s been a tough year for him. He’s had a lot of outside post positions and he’s not able to do two and three moves like he used to, but last week it worked out perfect. I got away third and I was able to pull around the five-eighths. Around the last turn I knew he was the winner, and he knew it too. He felt pretty good about himself.”

Always B Miki, a four-year-old stallion, was the favourite in last year’s Breeders Crown final for three-year-old male pacers after being supplemented to the event for $62,500. But minutes before post time, Always B Miki was scratched because of lameness. It was discovered the colt had a fractured pastern bone, which required surgery two days later.

During the winter, Always B Miki joined the Takter Stable and began preparing for a return to action. But in May, Always B Miki suffered a fracture of the opposite pastern bone and was sidelined again. He finally made it to the races on Oct. 3, winning by 5-1/4 lengths in 1:49 at Hoosier Park in a division of the Indiana Sire Stakes.

Always B Miki, owned by Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable and Christina Takter, won his Breeders Crown elimination by three lengths over Bettors Edge in 1:49.4. He has won 16 of 33 career races and earned $954,366.

“He is a fantastic horse,” Takter said. “I think he looked pretty darn good (in his elim) and I’m really fortunate to be a part of his life. It is a heck of a story, really, for this horse. They supplemented him to the Breeders Crown last year and he won his elimination and never got to race in the final. Now, hopefully he can continue the story.”

Always B Miki brings a seven-race win streak dating to September 2014 into the Breeders Crown final and has finished no worse than second in 14 consecutive starts.

The Open Pace also includes McWicked, who won last year’s Breeders Crown for three-year-old male pacers, which helped propel the Casie Coleman-trainee to receiving the Dan Patch and O'Brien Awards as the division’s best horse. McWicked, who finished fifth in his elimination, starts the final from post nine and is 15-1 on the morning line.

It has been eight years since a four-year-old won the Open Pace --- Steve Elliott’s Artistic Fella in 2007. The last male pacer to capture Breeders Crown trophies at both ages three and four was Art Major in 2002-03.

State Treasurer, the richest older pacer in harness racing this season, with $861,807, is 8-1 on the Open Pace morning line. He will start from post seven for trainer Ian Moore, who also sends out 25-1 Melmerby Beach from post one and 30-1 Arthur Blue Chip from post 10.

For the first time in three years, Woodbine Racetrack will again host the Breeders Crown, harness racing’s most spectacular evening, when 12 championship finals, offering more than $6 million in purse money. It’s the richest day of horse racing in Canada as North America’s best two-year-olds, three-year-olds and older pacers and trotters will be in the spotlight seeking to claim divisional and possibly Harness Horse of the Year honours. TSN2 will air a special one hour telecast across Canada from 9:00 – 10:00 p.m. and will televise two of the 12 Crown finals live, the $500,000 Three-Year-Old Colt Trot at 9:19 p.m. and the $531,250 Three-Year-Old Colt Pace at 9:44 p.m. ET.

Among the marketing activities on Breeders Crown night are WEG’s First Bet On Us $2 voucher and a free toque (while supplies last), available on the 3rd Floor; $10,000 in Instant Cash Giveaways (wager through a self-serve wagering terminal at Woodbine for 100 chances to win $100) and a mandatory Jackpot Hi 5 payout on Race 13 (the carryover pool is currently at $557,000) scheduled for 11:27 p.m.

In addition, there will be two $100,000 Guaranteed Pick 4’s, Early (Races 4-7) and Late (Races 8-11).

To view the entries for the Breeders Crown card, and for past performances for the Breeders Crown entrants courtesy TrackIT, click one of the following links:

2015 Breeders Crown Finals:


This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.


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