The Stars Are Beginning To Shine

Summer time means the big names are out and running

by John Furgele, Harness Racing 228

On Saturday, June 15, Captain Crunch took the Pepsi North America Cup, a $1 million race for 3-year old pacers and did so in an impressive time of 1:47.2 for one mile over the inviting 7/8 mile racing surface at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

I never accuse anybody of doping or drugging horses even though we all know that it takes place in harness racing.  That said, I don’t accuse; I wait to see when there are positive drug tests before I make conclusions.  There are many that think all trainers drug their horses and I don’t want to be one of those guys.

I will say that it is important to keep our eyes on a pacer like Captain Crunch.  We have seen performances like this in the past and then for some reason, that performance is never duplicated.  Dr, J Hanover blazed a big performance at WMP in 2017, and has never been the same since.  Those that are suspicious will point to this and say, “drugs,” and while that comes off as cruel and unfair, it might not be wrong.

Captain Crunch looks like the real deal and with all the big races still to come, let’s watch him and see if he can sustain the greatness he showed last Saturday.

Shartin N may be as good a horse in training that there is.  The 6-year old mare dominated the $330,000 Roses are Red in 1:49.  She could have run faster, but there was no need to do so.  She beat a good field, too, with Tequlia Monday, Caviart Ally and Better Joy finishing second through fourth.  Like all the great ones, Shartin went to the lead, cut a 25.4 quarter and then rated a 29 second second quarter, before buzzing a 27.3 third stanza to take total command.  That’s what the great ones do and that’s what Shartin N is.

Last year’s Hambletonian winner, Atlanta took to the track in the Ambro Flight Final and didn’t disappoint.  The 4-year old with Yannick Gingras in the bike nipped Weslynn Dancer in 1:50.1 to win the $256,000 race. After a tumultuous winter where she was sold  the mare looks ready for a big 2019.

McWicked came into the Mohawk Gold Cup as the reigning Horse of the Year, but only managed a third.  We don’t like to make excuses, but he hasn’t raced much this year and there is reason to believe that McWicked will get in going as the season progresses.  Jimmy Freight won the race, but Jimmy has raced a lot this year so he came in a bit more race ready.  On paper, McWicked is twice the horse that Jimmy is and that is no knock on him.  Onion was a nice horse; he beat Secretariat, but Onion was no Secretariat.

The premier event for 3-year old fillies was the $454,000 Fan Hanover Pace and Treacherous Regin overtook Warrawee Ubeaut in the stretch, stopping the clock in 1:48.3.

Once June comes, the stakes races are fast and furious and before we blink, the first Saturday in August will be here and for harness racing fans, that means the Hambletonian with its 10 stakes races.  Many who you just read about will be gearing for the big day at the Big M.

Pocono Downs gets into the stakes action act this Saturday with its Sun Stakes.  On Saturday, eliminations will be contested in the Ben Franklin Free-for-All Pace; the Earl Beal for 3-year old trotters; the Max Hempt for 3-year old pacers and the James Lynch for 3-year old filly pacers. The finals will be held on Saturday, June 29.

The great thing about harness racing is once the stars are out, they stay out. As long as the stars stay healthy, they’ll race from now through the Breeders Crown at the end of October.  It can be tough to keep track of, but oh, is it fun to see.


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