Harness racing’s brightest stars faced off at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario on Saturday night in 12 spectacular Breeders Crown championships worth over $6.1 million in purses.
Trot Insider has provided complete coverage of the card below.
Tamla Celeber S and catch-driver Brian Sears collared defending champion Frenchfrysnvinegar in the final strides to win the $246,350 Breeders Crown Open Mare Trot and kick off the championship card.
Leaving from post eight, 4-5 favourite Frenchfrysnvinegar (Jody Jamieson) was caught three-wide early on, but pressed on and cleared to command past the :27-second opening quarter mark.
She proceeded to the half in :56.1 while elimination winner Beatgoeson Hanover (Jim Morrill Jr.) advanced first over from fifth with Pembroke Heat Wave (Doug McNair) following her cover and outside post 10 starter Tamla Celeber S third over.
Frenchfrysnvinegar was still two lengths clear on top as she rolled past three-quarters in 1:26 and entered the stretch, but Tamla Celeber S kicked into high-gear late in the mile and collared the pacesetter before the wire for the 1:55.2 victory over a track surface rated 'good' on a rainy Saturday evening. Frenchfrysnvinegar stayed for second and Mystical Starlight (Tim Tetrick) closed well from the back of the pack for third.
Tamla Celeber S paid $20.90 for the upset win.
"I really didn't know what to expect," said Sears, who learned he would be driving the mare just an hour prior with her regular reinsman Orjan Kihlstrom delayed due to the weather. "They thought pretty highly of the mare and I was able to get her somewhat into the race from the 10-hole. I ended up third or fourth over and she really responded. She's a very nice mare."
The five-year-old Cantab Hall-Amanda Celeber mare, who was bred in Sweden, is trained by Roger Walmann for owner Courant Ab, 305 93 of Halmstad, Sweden. The millionairess now boasts 22 wins on her career record.
"I was not a fan to see that post position, but she was strong today," commented Walmann in the winner's circle.
Somwherovrarainbow delivered on her pari-mutuel promise with a hard-fought victory over I Luv The Nitelife in the following $591,240 Breeders Crown Two-Year-Old Filly Pace for driver Andy Miller and trainer George Teague Jr.
UF Dragons Queen (David Miller) hustled off the gate from the outside post 10 and put up a :27-second opening panel before being confronted by L Dees Lioness (Scott Zeron) down the backstretch.
L Dees Lioness advanced first over from third and cleared to command with I Luv The Nitelife (Jack Moiseyev) hot on her heels and Somwherovrarainbow following that filly's cover. I Luv The Nitelife took over command past the :55.2 halfway point leaving Somwherovrarainbow first up.
Somwherovrarainbow applied heavy pressure to the new leader as they raced to three-quarters in 1:23 and spun into the stretch. She eventually edged by the persistent I Luv The Nitelife for the 1:52.2 one and a half length triumph. L Dees Lioness finished over six lengths back in third.
Somwherovrarainbow, last week's elimination winner, paid $4.50 to win as the 6-5 favourite.
"Last week she got a nice trip and just exploded off of cover, but tonight she kind of roughed it for a bit and then she just dug game right to the wire," said Miller after the victory. "The conditions weren't ideal tonight, but she dug right in and was really tough."
The Somebeachsomewhere-Rainbow Blue filly is owned by George Teague JR Inc. of Harrington, Delaware, K And R Racing LLC of Houston, Delaware, and Theodore Gewertz of New York City, New York. She is now five-for-nine in her career with over $415,000 banked in purses.
"This filly always seemed special right from the day we were breaking her," said Teague. "It's uncanny, everything is very, very similar. The only thing I always said all year long was that she's a bit faster. If she stays sound I think we'll see a few more similarities to her Mom."
Teague confirmed that Rainbow Blue has been bred back to Somebeachsomewhere.
Despite being parked every step of the way, Chapter Seven, driven by Tim Tetrick, managed to wear down international invitee Commander Crowe in the $591,240 Breeders Crown Open Trot for his second consecutive championship title.
Swedish trotting star Commander Crowe (Christophe Martens) established the lead from post four in the six-horse field over Mister Herbie (Jody Jamieson) while Chapter Seven found himself parked out from post six with Arch Madness (Trond Smedshammer) following his helmet. Daylon Magician (Jack Moiseyev) followed behind with early breaker Hot Shot Blue Chip (Corey Callahan) trailing.
Commander Crowe carved out fractions of :27.2, :55.4 and 1:24.3 with Chapter Seven looming first over. Down the stretch, the favourite inched by the pacesetter for the 1:52.3 triumph. Mister Herbie came on for second, one and a quarter lengths behind, forcing Commander Crowe to settle for another third place finish in Breeders Crown action.
"I didn't know that he could do that, but I know as long as he has a target he won't stop until he gets there," said trainer Linda Toscano following the victory.
The four-year-old world champion son of Windsongs Legacy and La Riviera Lindy is owned by Richard Gutnick of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, Southwind Farm of Pennington, New Jersey, and J And T Silva Stables LLC of Long Beach, New York.
Last year's Breeders Crown Three-Year-Old Colt Trot champion is the 18th trotter to earn two Breeders Crown titles, and just the third to win the three-year-old and Open divisions in back-to-back years. Sugarcane Hanover completed the feat in 1986-1987 while Pine Chip repeated in 1993-1994.
Chapter Seven now boasts seven wins and two seconds in nine seasonal starts with over $923,000 in 2012 earnings. The $1.85 million career earner, who has recorded a historic four sub-1:51 miles, also boasts stakes wins in this year's Titan Cup, Nat Ray, Maxie Lee, and Allerage Farms Open.
Toscano said "without question" Chapter Seven has proven to be the best horse she's ever trained.
"What this horse has overcome to get to this point, horses can't do and he only knows one thing -- and that's to win," she said. "He loves it, he's a great horse. He deserves every accolade he gets.
"He's a great horse and Timmy and he gets along super. I give credit to everybody involved. It's a team effort; the caretaker lives with him, the veterinarian that got him through his sickness lives with him. This year is a culmination of everybody working together and getting him here. I just went along for the ride."
Chapter Seven paid $3.50 to win.
O'Brien Award winner American Jewel carried Tim Tetrick back to the winner's circle after sweeping to victory in the $492,700 Breeders Crown Three-Year-Old Filly Pace.
Elimination winner Romantic Moment (Yannick Gingras) grabbed the lead from post three over inside starter Economy Terror (Dave Palone), the 2011 Breeders Crown Two-Year-Old Filly Pace champion, and American Jewel, the other elim winner. But after passing the first quarter mark in :26.2, Economy Terror swept to command.
Economy Terror reached the half in :54.4 and proceeded to three-quarters in 1:23.3 with American Jewel flushed first over by the advancing Shelliscape (John Campbell). American Jewel applied pressure to the leader around the final turn before drawing clear to score in 1:52.1. Shelliscape and Big McDeal (Jody Jamieson) came on for second and third.
American Jewel paid $5.30 to win as the odds-on favourite.
"I waited as long as I could [to pull the plugs]," commented Tetrick after the race. "I knew there was still some real good horses behind me and I was first up into the wind. My filly held them off, she's a true champion.
"I'm just really tickled with this filly, she deserves a Breeders Crown," he added. "She got hurt last year and didn't make it, but she made up for it tonight."
The American Ideal-Trim Hanover filly is trained by Jimmy Takter for owner-breeder Brittany Farms of Versailles, Kentucky. The victory was her eighth in 15 starts this year and pushed her seasonal earnings over the $1 million mark while her lifetime earnings climbed to nearly $1.77 million.
For Tetrick, the victory added to his long list of accomplishments he's earned this year, including winning three million-dollar races.
"I just want to thank all of the owners and trainers that put a lot of faith in me," he said. "I'm a young country boy and now I'm doing something I love to do. To win Breeders Crowns, it's just great."
To Dream On and driver Yannick Gingras matched the stakes record in the $591,240 Breeders Crown Two-Year-Old Filly Trot with a wide-open score, giving trainer Jimmy Takter, the all-time leading money earning trainer in Breeders Crown history, another championship trophy.
Cupcake (Ron Pierce) fired across the track to take the early lead from post nine during a :28.1 opening panel, but Royal Assets (Tim Tetrick) made a quarter pole move, quickly sweeping from second to first.
Royal Assets led the way down the backstretch with Mistery Woman (David Miller) advancing from third and clearing by the :57.3 half-mile mark.
Gingra made his move with To Dream On during the third panel after getting away fourth, and the Credit Winner-Satin Pillows filly took over command near the 1:25.3 third quarter station as Mistery Woman broke stride. She then drew off for the open length victory in 1:54.4. The time of the mile matched the stakes record, established by Check Me Out last year. Time To Kill (John Campbell) and favourite Bee A Magician (Rick Zeron) came on for second and third.
To Dream On paid $5.30 to win as the 8-5 second choice.
Gingras stated that the black filly is a trotter with pacer-like speed and, for a quarter-mile, she can go with any pacer.
"I was coming first up and she was kind of wanting to take off on me around the last turn," he said in the winner's circle. "I just turned her loose and she opened up 10 [lengths] on the field in a matter of strides."
To Dream On is just a neck shy of a perfect freshman season. She is eight-for-nine with close to $720,000 earned in purses for owners Marvin Katz of Toronto and Al Libfeld of Pickering, Ont. Among her victories are the Merrie Annabelle and back-to-back wins in the Bluegrass Series and International Stallion Stakes.
For Quebec native Gingras, the victory was one of his highlights amidst a spectacular 2012 season.
"You know, the Meadowlands Pace was definitely a great thrill," said Gingras, who is in the middle of his third consecutive year of earning over $10 million in purses. "But it's moments like this with To Dream On. To be the go-to guy. She became available three starts ago and to be able to get a guy like Jimmy Takter to ask you to drive her, a great filly like this that's already proven to be a great filly, to me that's the highlight. You get drives like that, you can't help but win races."
The highlights continued for Yannick Gingras as he guided Maven to victory in the following $492,700 Breeders Crown Three-Year-Old Filly Trot.
Dorsay (Corey Callahan) fired across the track from post nine to establish the early lead during a :26.4 opening quarter over inside starter Check Me Out, the 4-5 favourite and defending Breeders Crown champion.
Leaving from the outside post 10, Cowgirl Hall (Jim Morrill Jr.) slowly worked her way to the top as they fillies headed down the backstretch. But once she cleared, O'Brien Award winner Check Me Out rushed up to take over the leading role by the :55.3 half-mile mark.
As Check Me Out led the way to three-quarters in 1:24.2, Gingras set Maven in motion after watching the early action from fourth. Maven went head-to-head with Check Me Out as they entered the stretch and put away that rival down the lane to win in 1:54 flat. Win Missy B (Ron Pierce) chased home Maven for second after following her cover while Check Me Out settled for third.
Maven paid $9.80 to win.
"She raced very big tonight," said trainer Jonas Czernyson following the victory. "Yannick came first up with her and I thought that wasn't going to work, but she did a very good job tonight and I'm very proud of her. She likes to hunt, she likes to have a target -- that's when she races the best."
The Glidemaster-M Stewart filly, this year's Moni Maker winner, ended a four-race second-place streak with her Crown triumph. She now sports a sophomore record reading 7-5-0 in 13 starts while pushing her 2012 bankroll to more than $690,000. Her lifetime earnings climbed to nearly $850,000.
Czernyson, the former assistant trainer to trotting legend Per Eriksson, thanked his former teacher for helping get him to his first Breeders Crown title.
"With hard work you can get anything to happen," he said.
Maven is owned by W. J. Donovan of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Jimmy Takter joined forces for another championship triumph as Rockin Amadeus upset the Tony Alagna elimination winners Wake Up Peter and heavy favourite Captaintreacherous in the $591,240 Breeders Crown Two-Year-Old Colt Pace.
Urbanite Hanover (Ron Pierce) hustled off the gate from post nine during a :26.3 opening quarter, but was overtaken by Metro Pace champion Captaintreacherous (Tim Tetrick) down the backstretch.
Captaintreacherous powered to the lead from fourth, clearing past the :55.2 half-mile mark. He then proceeded to three-quarters in 1:23.3.
Meanwhile, 17-1 longshot Rockin Amadeus, who got away third and was shuffled back to fourth when Captaintreacherous made his move, tipped to the outside and set his sights on tracking down the leader.
He did just that as the colts approached the wire, getting by to score in a new lifetime mark of 1:51.2 by half a length. Wake Up Peter (Andy Miller) closed off the winner's cover to edge out his stablemate for the runner-up spot.
Rockin Amadeus paid $37 for the upset.
The Rocknroll Hanover-Kikikatie colt, who has put together a record reading 3-3-1 in 10 starts while banking nearly $450,000, is owned and bred by Lothlorien of Cheltenham, Ont.
"We deliberately bought Kikikatie to breed with Rocknroll Hanover, who my mother owned, and we've kept all the colts. This one made it well," said Susan Grange of Lothlorien. "I've always liked him, he's had a bit of bad luck, but I always thought he had it if he had a good drive. I've always thought he had a lot of heart."
Favourite Wheeling N Dealin, driven by Sylvain Filion, continued his flawless season with a dazzling victory in the $591,240 Breeders Crown Two-Year-Old Colt Trot.
Murmur Hanover (Mario Baillargeon) blasted off the gate from his outside post position to establish the early lead, but gave way to the parked and pressing Royalty For Life (Tim Tetrick) as they reached the :28-second first quarter mark.
Elimination winner Wheeling N Dealin made his move down the backstretch as he rushed to command from fourth and hit the half in :57.3, but had to contend with Dontyouforgetit (Yannick Gingras) during the third panel.
Dontyouforgetit swept up from fifth and went head-to-head with the leader as they raced by three-quarters in 1:26.3, but Wheeling N Dealin fought back and Dontyouforgetit broke stride down the stretch. Wheeling N Dealin went on to win in 1:56 flat. Royalty For Life finished three-quarters of a length behind in second and Murmur Hanover rounded out the top three finishers nearly six lengths behind at odds of 78-1.
Wheeling N Dealin paid $4.20 to win.
"He does everything you ask him. He's just amazing," said Milton, Ont. resident Filion in the winner's circle. "He gave me a little scare around the last turn; he got a little bumpy on me and I had to take a hold of him a bit, but as soon as he hit the stretch he was gone."
The Cantab Hall-Quick Credit colt is trained by Dustin Jones for Ecurie Synergie of Montreal, Que. He has won all nine of his starts this year, including the William Wellwood Memorial Trot, Champlain Stakes and Bridger Trotting Series earlier this year at Mohawk Racetrack, to earn over $680,000.
Jones said he opted to race his star trotting colt on home turf for the season with hopes of avoiding sickness that travel can sometimes cause.
"It's happened to us before and we took the cautious route with him," noted Jones. "It paid off."
The Breeders Crown title was the second for both Filion and Jones. It was 11 years ago that Filion earned his first championship trophy with Goliath Bayama. Jones' other victory was with Martiniontherocks in 2010.
The Tim Tetrick and Linda Toscano combination struck again with harness racing's newest millionaire Heston Blue Chip edging by defending champion Sweet Lou to win the wide-open $546,897 Breeders Crown Three-Year-Old Colt Pace.
Simcoe Stakes and New Jersey Classic winner Panther Hanover (Sylvain Filion) was the first to fire off the gate from the middle of the pack, but Tattersalls Pace champion Sweet Lou (Dave Palone) out-sprinted him to the top during a :26-second opening panel.
Sweet Lou's lead was short-lived too, as the parked out North America Cup winner Thinking Out Loud (John Campbell) rushed to command. But Panther Hanover was intent on being in front and he rolled right on by at the :53.4 half-mile mark.
As the Glamour Boys raced to three-quarters in 1:21.3, Empire Breeders Classic champion Heston Blue Chip flushed out cover in the form of Sweet Lou, who waged war with Panther Hanover around the final turn.
Sweet Lou wore down Panther Hanover in the stretch, but Heston Blue Chip came flying home to prevail by three-quarters of a length in 1:49.2. Sweet Lou finished second while Heston Blue Chip's stablemate and fellow elimination winner Bettors Edge (David Miller) came in third.
Heston Blue Chip paid $5.70 to win as the favourite.
"You can't dream this big," said Toscano after earning her fourth Breeders Crown title.
Toscano noted that the recent addition of Lasix appears to be helping Heston Blue Chip, despite her early skepticism.
"It was one of those things where he always had white stuff coming out of his nose and he'd cough occasionally," she explained. "Timmy and I talked about it when we were down in Lexington, and he said 'why not certify him?' I thought, we're going to race him next year as a four-year-old, it can't hurt. And I think it did more than can't hurt, I think it really did pick him up."
The American Ideal-Shot Togo Bluechip colt, who is now 11-for-14 in his sophomore year with over $777,000 banked in purses, is owned by Kenneth Jacobs of Baldwinsville, New York. He improved his lifetime record to 22-2-1 in 27 starts while pushing his career earnings over the $1 million mark.
"He deserves this race," added Toscano. "He wasn't eligible to a ton of them and this is one that's been getting away from Ken."
O'Brien Award winner Anndrovette surpassed the $2 million career earnings mark as she won the $326,660 Breeders Crown Open Mare Pace for the second consecutive year with the hot-handed Tim Tetrick aboard.
Blasting off the gate from post four, Anndrovette established the lead and posted a :26.1 first quarter before giving way to the parked out supplemental entry Rebeka Bayama (Sylvain Filion).
Rebeka Bayama took over command in the backstretch and raced to the half in :54 with 2-1 favourite Drop The Ball (Yannick Gingras) leading the outer flow.
Drop The Ball moved up to apply pressure to the front-runner as they approached three-quarters in 1:22.3 and took a short lead into the stretch. However, Anndrovette powered past the top two in the three-path to score in 1:50.1 by one and a half lengths. Drop The Ball was second with Rebeka Bayama finishing third.
Anndrovette paid $14.90 to win as the 6-1 fourth choice in the field.
"My mare's really tough, she likes being forwardly placed...either cut it or follow one that's going plenty fast," noted Tetrick. "Today, Sylvain's mare came and I let him go. I made him work at it a little bit. At the top of the lane I got lucky, squeezed out behind Yannick and in front of Brett Miller's horse [fourth-place finisher Camille]. My mare did the rest of the work from there.
"She's tough as nails," he continued. "Last week she got parked and this week she came back with a vengeance. She turns the page very quickly."
With the victory, Tetrick became the first driver to collect four Breeders Crown trophies in one night.
For Anndrovette, the victory was her 28th lifetime and seventh of the season in 23 starts. He seasonal earnings climbed to nearly $700,000 while her lifetime bankroll soared over the $2 million mark.
Paul Fraley trains the five-year-old Riverboast King-Easy Miss mare for New Jersey owners Bamond Racing LLC of Brick and Joseph Davino of Clarksburg.
Anndrovette became the 18th pacer to earn two Breeders Crown titles and the first to win back-to-back Open Mare Pace titles.
Supplemental entry Intimidate, with Ron Pierce catch-driving, paid off his connections with a late rally to prevail in the $546,987 Breeders Crown Three-Year-Old Colt Trot.
Knows Nothing (Jody Jamieson) established the early lead from post six forcing the parked out Stormin Normand into the pocket spot while Hambletonian and Canadian Trotting Classic champion Market Share (Tim Tetrick) rolled up to take over past the :27-second first quarter mark.
As Market Share led the way to the half in :55.2, elimination winner Little Brown Fox (Yannick Gingras) advanced first over from fourth with Prestidigitator (Sylvain Filion) and the other elim winner, Intimidate, second and third over.
Little Brown Fox applied heavy pressure to the leader as they raced by the 1:24.4 third quarter mark and were just heads apart as they continued to battle down the stretch. However, Pierce showed Intimidate open road and the Justice Hall-Fabulous Tag gelding exploded off cover to win in 1:52.4 by more than three lengths. Little Brown Fox finished second over Market Share.
Intimidate paid $5 to win as the 3-2 favourite.
"I never even pulled his earplugs [tonight] and I just chirped to him a couple of times," said Pierce in the winner's circle." He did it all on his own. A monkey could have won with this horse tonight."
Intimidate now boasts 13 wins and three seconds in 17 sophomore starts with seasonal earnings of more than $415,000. He was a runner-up by just a neck behind Little Brown Fox earlier this year in the Simcoe Stakes -- his only other stakes start of his 2012 campaign.
"I raced him pretty aggressively the first time I raced him [in the Simcoe Stakes] and he came up just a tad short," noted Pierce. "He was never stretched out before that race. I believe that if he'd have had a race under his belt over this track or Mohawk before that race, he'd have won it."
Trainer Luc Blais of Lochaber Ouest, Que. bred and co-owns the winning gelding with Judith Farrow of Hemmingford, Que.
Bettor Sweet, driven by David Miller, wrapped up Breeders Crown Night 2012 with his connections taking home another trophy in the $492,700 Breeders Crown Open Pace.
The defending champion and 7-5 favourite pulled the pocket after the :26.2 opening quarter and took over the lead from Golden Receiver (Tim Tetrick) down the backstretch. He then carved out middle panels of :55 and 1:22.4 before cruising home to win in 1:49.1 by three and a half lengths. Golden Receiver finished second while Foiled Again (Yannick Gingras) advanced first over to show. World champion Put On A Show (Jody Jamieson), the first mare to race in the Open division of the Breeders Crown, finished 10th.
Bettor Sweet paid $4.90 to win as the 3-2 favourite.
"It worked out great. I left, fell right in the two-hole, got to move back, got a soft middle half there and the horse, he did the rest," commented Miller after the victory. "I got back to the front and nobody even challenged me until the head of the stretch. By that time he was freshening up and he had a lot of pace."
The seven-year-old Bettors Delight-Sweet Future gelding is trained by Thomas Cancelliere for brother John Cancelliere of Clark, New Jersey. He ended his 17-race 2012 campaign with three consecutive victories in the Allerage Farms Open, an Open Pace at Woodbine, and his Breeders Crown score while pushing his earnings to more than $557,000 this year.
"His foot was bothering him at the beginning of the season," explained Tom Cancelliere. "We tried to race him through it, but some of the harder tracks seemed to bother him a bit and it took a little while to get it comfortable again.
"I have a great blacksmith who's been working with me all year, taking care of it," he added. "This is it for him for the year. It's hard to put him away, but we're going to do it anyway."
Cancelliere confirmed that the $2.81 million earner will return to racing next year.