Breeders Crown Weekend Concludes
Published: November 22, 2014 8:57 pm ET
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Breeders Crown weekend wrapped up at Meadowlands Racetrack with the remaining eight championships contested on Saturday night.
With half of the starters in the field for the $500,000 Two-Year-Old Colt Trot from his stable, the odds were certainly in trainer Jimmy Takter's favour to add to his record Breeders Crown win total. And that is just what he did as even-money favourite Pinkman turned in a 1:53.2 stakes and track record equalling performance in Saturday's first championship.
Takter collected his 20th Breeders Crown trophy and second during the 2014 championships, having also won with three-year-old filly trotter Shake It Cerry on Friday night.
Driver Yannick Gingras left from mid-field with elimination winner Pinkman before Guess Whos Back (George Brennan) first trotted up to take over, followed by Takter trainee Uncle Lasse (Ron Pierce), who was the cause of a recall when he broke stride and interfered with Piercewave Hanover (Corey Callahan) heading behind the starting gate for the first time.
Determined to be on the front, Gingras and Pinkman retook the lead after the :27.4 opening panel and remained in control through middle splits of :56.3 and 1:25.3.
French Laundry (Brett Miller), the other elimination winner from the Takter stable, progressed first over with Muscle Diamond (John Campbell) rallying off his cover, but Pinkman had opened up on top heading into the stretch and he held off the late-closer for the victory. Muscle Diamond followed a half-length behind in second while French Laundry finished third.
"I qualified him two starts ago and he was so good on the front in the qualifier," said Gingras of his persistence to race on top tonight. "Last week in the elimination, Ron came and I let him go, but tonight it was his race to lose and I wanted him up on the front."
Gingras, who also won a pair of Breeders Crown championships on Friday night for trainer Ron Burke, noted that he was faced with a difficult decision when forced to choose between driving Pinkman and Burke's Habitat in tonight's final.
"I just felt that Habitat had a great year, but Pinkman was coming into this race super sharp," said Gingras. "He just kept getting better and better every week and I just thought he was my best chance."
Pinkman earned his sixth win in eight starts and boosted his bankroll to $595,835. The Explosive Matter-Margie Seelster gelding is owned by Takter's wife Christina, Toronto brothers John and Jim Fielding, Herb Liverman, a Montreal native now based in Miami Beach, Florida, and Joyce McClelland of Zanesville, Ohio.
"We didn't have much confidence in him in the early stages, but boy has he ever come on since September. He's just really turned into a different horse," said John Fielding. "We had him for sale and the magical Jimmy Takter got him figured out and he's just gone straight forward since then and he's been a real great surprise."
Following the race, Takter noted the colt's determination after learning he had stepped on himself when pulling up for the recall and raced with about an inch and a half of his shoe bent off.
JK Shesalady put the exclamation mark on her perfect debut season with a perfect ending in the $500,000 Two-Year-Old Filly Pace.
JK Shesalady earned her 12th consecutive victory and provided trainer Nancy Johansson, daughter of Jimmy Takter, with her first Breeders Crown.
Tim Tetrick sent the 1-9 overwhelming favourite from fourth to first after a :26.3 opening panel and continued the brisk pace to the half in :54.4. She was then confronted by Sassa Hanover (Yannick Gingras) and they raced past three-quarters together in 1:22.4. The battle continued into the stretch, but JK Shesalady dug in and drew clear for the 1:50.2 track and stakes record triumph. Sassa Hanover settled for second one and three-quarter lengths behind while early leader Bettor Be Steppin (Corey Callahan) finished back in third.
"I protected myself in the first turn, and the way it was shaking out, I was going to have to be first up again so I moved her to the front and she did the rest," said Tetrick, who was also celebrating his 33rd birthday on Saturday. "Sassa came at her, and ran at her hard enough, and then my mare just put her away and raced really good all the way to the wire.
"I'm very honoured I get to drive her," said Tetrick, who picked up the catch-drive on the filly for the Breeders Crown elimination and final. "I just lucked into it. Yannick didn't take her and they asked me to drive her and I was more than happy to do that."
With the victory, JK Shesalady stamped herself as a leading candidate for Horse of the Year honours. Johansson said she recognized the filly's potential early this year.
"Probably around February I asked my dad if he had any good two-year-old pacing fillies and I told him he could leave them at home because I have the best one, so I guess I was right," laughed Johansson. "I knew she was going to be good, but I didn't really know she was going to be this good. That was a pleasant surprise, but she's just super special and I'm blessed to have her in my barn."
JK Shesalady has amassed $931,850 in earnings during her undefeated season. The homebred Art Major-Presidential Lady filly is owned by Alan, Ronald and Steven Katz of the 3 Brothers Stables.
Johansson said that JK Shesalady will head to North Carolina for a well-deserved six-week vacation before resuming training for her sophomore campaign.
Thinking Out Loud launched off cover down the stretch and persevered in a dramatic finish to win the $400,000 Open Pace for Canadian Hall of Famers and longtime friends John Campbell and Bob McIntosh.
With the inside post advantage, Bettors Edge (Matt Kakaley) took the lead off the gate, but defending champion Foiled Again (Yannick Gingras) pressed on to take over before the :27.3 first quarter.
Sweet Lou (Ron Pierce), the 6-5 favourite, then made his move at the quarter pole and swept to command over his Ron Burke stablemates with Modern Legend (Brett Miller) charging up next to apply pressure at the :54.2 half. Meanwhile, State Treasurer (David Miller) moved into the second over position with Thinking Out Loud spotted third over.
Sweet Lou managed to keep Modern Legend at bay as they raced by three-quarters in 1:20.4 and he pulled clear into the stretch, but the outer flow began to fan wide with State Treasurer in the three-path and Thinking Out Loud closing into the win photo on the far outside. Thinking Out Loud defeated Sweet Lou on the line in 1:48.3 with State Treasurer finishing a neck back in third and Modern Legend fourth over Foiled Again.
"I was third over [at the half], but I was having a hard time keeping up at the point," said Campbell, the leading driver in Breeders Crown history, now with 46 victories. "I had to chase them hard until mid-stretch and then he kicked in and that's when he was pacing his best -- the last eighth of the mile.
"He is a closer, we've tried to race him up front different times and it just doesn't work. He's just a real good closer and always has been."
"I knew it was going to be very tough," said McIntosh. "I think this is the best bunch of Free-For-Allers I can remember in my 40 years in the business. You got four in one stable and that makes it tough.
"At the quarter pole I was using the 'F' word a little bit, because it didn't look good -- they were stacked up in :27 and a bit. But thank god Brett Miller came with his horse and mixed it up a little bit and that really made it a better race. It was a hell of a race, a hell of a finish."
Thinking Out Loud paid $10.40 to win as the 4-1 second choice.
The five-year-old son of Ponder-Los Angeles is owned and bred by the Robert McIntosh Stables Inc. of Windsor, Ont., Al McIntosh Holdings Inc. of Leamington, Ont. and the C S X Stables of Liberty Center, Ohio.
"It's very special [to win] with one that I've raised myself and I've raced his father and raced his mother too, so it's really special," said McIntosh, who won his first Breeders Crown in 1986 with Sunset Warrior and now has 16 to his credit.
McIntosh and Campbell previously teamed up for a pair wins in the championship series with Western Shooter in 2001 and Artsplace in 1992.
Traceur Hanover made a backstretch brush to take command and fought off his rivals to claim victory in the $500,000 Two-Year-Old Colt Pace with driver Andy Miller declaring "I'm back!" with the big win.
Miller returned to the race bike in October after injuries from a racing accident forced him to the sidelines for five months. He worked out the winning trip aboard Traceur Hanover for trainer Corey Johnson and Richard Berthiaume of Pointe-Aux-Trembles, Que.
Sicily (George Brennan) paced out to a quick four length lead with a pair of breakers in Lyons Levi Lewis (Ron Pierce) and Franzo (Scott Zeron) causing some early commotion amongst the field. However, favourite In The Arsenal (Brian Sears) managed to sweep up from the outside post 10 and take over command by the :26.2 first quarter mark.
As he led the way down the backstretch, Traceur Hanover advanced first up with fellow elimination winner Go Daddy Go (John Campbell) brushing up three-wide. Traceur Hanover cleared at the half in :55.2 with Go Daddy Go outside pressing on.
The top two colts duelled past three-quarters in 1:23 before Traceur Hanover eventually shook off his challenger in the stretch. He then held off In The Arsenal for the half-length victory in 1:51 with Lyons Levis Lewis recovering for third and surviving a judges' inquiry.
"There was a lot of breakers and a lot going on there," said Miller from the winner's circle. "We just had to bide our time and wait to get through it all. He was super last week and Corey said he had a good week this week and thought he’d be right on his toes. I was a little worried about making the move I did, but I beat Brian last week and he knew I had a good horse and he was willing to follow me. He was super, he was good last week and came back with the same effort this week.
"I’m doing great now, I’m back," he added. “I was hoping to be here, that’s for sure. It was a realistic thing, I thought I had a shot to get back and be here. I was just hoping to pick up a horse that I could be here with.”
Traceur Hanover, a Western Ideal-Transference colt, earned his fifth win in 14 starts and lifted his bankroll to $423,475.
John Campbell worked out another perfectly timed winning trip in the Breeders Crown with Shelliscape defending her title in the $281,250 Mares Open Pace.
Rallying home from off-the-pace, the P.J. Fraley trainee edged out Rocklamation (Yannick Gingras) in a photo finish, prevailing in 1:49.4. Overlooked at the betting windows, she returned $23 to her backers.
The winner's stablemate Kripsy Apple (Scott Zeron) edged ahead of early leaver Voelz Hanover (Brian Sears) after a contested :26-second opening panel, but Voelz Hanover fought back and regained the lead at the :53.1 half-mile mark.
Meanwhile, two-time Breeders Crown champion Anndrovette (Tim Tetrick), another Fraley contender, moved second over and then fanned three-wide approaching the 1:21.4 third quarter. Anndrovette took over into the stretch with Rocklamation (Yannick Gingras) charging up off cover and Shelliscape closing with late pace from the backfield on the far outside to steal the glory. Charisma Hanover (George Brennan) came on for third over Anndrovette.
"She’s raced well, even on Hambletonian Day, the stake here, she raced really well that day. It was just dull cover," commented Campbell after the victory. "Again, she had a dull cover tonight, but she made up a lot of ground. She’s a real good closer.
"When I got away so bad I was sure hoping the fractions were stiff up front because I was nowhere near where I wanted to be, but it’s just how it worked out of the gate...When I moved over at the head of the stretch, I knew she was going to get a real good piece of it."
The Artiscape-Shell I Scoot mare is owned by Bamond Racing's Jeffrey Bamond and his son Jeffrey Jr., who have won the last four Breeders Crown finals for older pacing mares.
The Jimmy Takter barn has dominated the three-year-old trotting colt division all season long with the $500,000 Breeders Crown shaping up to be another match race between stablemates Father Patrick and Nuncio. The colts lined up one-two in the early going, with defending champion Father Patrick ultimately claiming the John Cashman Jr. Memorial trophy.
Driven by Yannick Gingras, Father Patrick cleared to command over even-money favourite Nuncio and John Campbell during the :27.2 first quarter and was rated through a half in :56.1. As he trotted on to three-quarters in 1:24.2, post 10 starter E L Titan (Ron Pierce) advanced first up into second and offered up a serious challenge down the stretch. However, Father Patrick persevered by a neck in a stakes record clocking of 1:51.4 over E L Titan with Nuncio finishing over two lengths back in third.
Owned by the Father Patrick Stable of East Windsor, New Jersey, the Cantab Hall-Gala Dream colt is now 12-for-17 in his $1.7 million sophomore campaign, although the victory was, in a way, redemption for Father Patrick, who broke stride the last time he raced at The Meadowlands on Aug. 2 in the Hambletonian and in his last start in the Matron Stakes at Dover Downs on Nov. 6.
"He’s had a couple unfortunate breaks throughout the year, but I always thought he was the horse to beat," said Gingras. "Every time he steps foot on the racetrack I was very confident in him that he was the best horse in the race and he proved it tonight.
"The expectations were really high -- we had high expectations, everybody else did too. The Matron was a bad track and the rail and obviously, Hambletonian, we want to forget about that one, but I think everything else, he’s put up a huge performance. Jimmy's done a great job with him keeping him sharp throughout the year and he showed up here tonight and proved us what a great horse he is."
Father Patrick paid $4.60 to win.
It all comes down to the Breeders Crown and McWicked was looking to make a statement for year-end honours with a winning performance in the competitive $531,250 Three-Year-Old Colt Pace division.
Driver Brian Sears earned his second Breeders Crown this year and 26th of his career with the McArdle-Western Sahara colt scoring in 1:49 flat for trainer Casie Coleman and owner Ed James of the S S G Stables. (He also won the Mares Open Trot with Bee A Magician on Friday night.)
With a pair of scratches, including Limelight Beach (sick) and popular elimination winner Always B Miki (lame), JK Endofanera inherited the status of race favourite.
Defending champion Luck Be Withyou (Tim Tetrick) established the early lead into a sizzling :26-second opening quarter over second choice McWicked before JK Endofanera (Ron Pierce) brushed up from third to take over during the second panel. Sears then made his move with McWicked, edging ahead at the :54.1 half-mile mark and clearing to command shortly after. McWicked cruised by three-quarters in 1:21.3 and opened up a couple of lengths into the stretch before holding off the late-closing Somesizesomestyle (Matt Kakaley) by half a length with JK Endofanera finishing third.
"Well that first scratch that we heard this morning was going to change the race big time with Limelight Beach not in there and that late scratch with Miki, obviously he was the dead favourite, it really changed the race complex a lot," noted Coleman upon being presented with the Hugh Grant Jr. Memorial trophy. "I didn’t really expect McWicked was going to be on the front."
McWicked has put together a $1.3 million sophomore campaign with nine wins, five seconds and four thirds in 21 starts. His biggest wins came in the Hempt, Adios and Pennsylvania Sires Stakes Championship in the summer.
"He started the year awesome and then he wasn’t so good in the Jug," said Coleman. "After that he had a couple not-so-good, sub-par starts, but he’s really bounced back last week, and this week he was awesome.
"That was his last stake and I had told Ed a couple weeks ago 110 per cent he’s done for the season. After he raced last week, I said we might supplement the Progress. We'll see how he comes out of the race, but I feel like we might supplement the Progress."
Coleman also explained that they plan to race McWicked as a four-year-old.
Foreign invitee Commander Crowe held off popular trotting mare Maven at the wire and matched the 1:51 stakes record in the highly anticipated $500,000 Open Trot.
At 11 years old, Commander Crowe became the oldest horse to win a Breeders Crown and he surpassed the $5 million earnings mark with the victory. Orjan Kihlstrom drove the Juliano Star-Somack gelding for trainer Fabrice Souloy and owner Snogarps Gard of Ystad, Sweden.
Archangel (Brian Sears) established the early lead with Creatine (Ron Pierce) floating up to his outside and Commander Crowe second over after leaving from post nine. Creatine worked his way to the top after the :27-second opening panel and then Commander Crowe swept by.
As Commander Crowe trotted by the half in :54.4 and three-quarters in 1:22.4, Maven (Yannick Gingras) moved up from fourth to challenge the leader. Maven still loomed the danger on the outside and was digging in down the stretch, but Commander Crowe powered home to prevail by three-quarters of a length. Maven finished second after her big ticket sale in Harrisburg and impressive elimination victory while Creatine rounded out the top three. Flanagan Memory finished fourth and Arch Madness was fifth in his record seventh Breeders Crown appearance.
"I heard he shipped very good this time. He had some problems with that before, but this time it was perfect," said Kihlstrom of the trotter who arrived in the U.S. in October and finished second in the International Trot Preview at Yonkers. "I tried to keep them behind me. He’s a very tough horse, and still at this age, can do a lot of work. He’s just a fantastic horse."
Known as 'Le Grand Blond,' the stunning chestnut trotter earned his third invite to the Breeders Crown after winning the Aby Stora Pris Grade 1 Stakes in Gothenburg, Sweden in August. He finished third in his first two Breeders Crown appearances in Canada in 2011 and 2012. The last foreign invitee to win the Breeders Crown Open Trot was Varenne in 2001 in what was then a world record 1:51.1 clocking.
Future plans for the trotting titan are still undecided, according to Kihlstrom. "I don’t know for sure [if he’ll keep going]," he said. "They have been talking that this might be the end, but I don't know if they have decided."
After the race, Gingras commented on Maven's valiant runner-up effort. “She tried her heart out tonight," he said. "She’s a great horse, no doubt about it, you know, racing against the boys tonight and she didn’t trip out. She worked hard and had to come first up and she just went an incredible mile, but nothing surprises me about her. She’s a pleasure to be around."
The Breeders Crown will return to Canada in 2015 after a two-year hiatus with Woodbine Racetrack hosting the 12 year-end championships in the fall.
For complete coverage of the $250,000 Mares Open Trot, $500,000 Two-Year-Old Filly Trot, $500,000 Three-Year-Old Filly Trot and $593,750 Three-Year-Old Filly Pace contested on Friday night, click here.