by John Furgele, Harness Racing 228
The Breeders Crown is harness racing’s “Night of Stars,” and all of the good ones were on display Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Recaps are often skimmed through or ignored, so rather than take you through each race, let’s go over some lasting impressions on a windy, rainy night in Campbellville, Ontario, Canada.
There were five stars that came out of those conditions. First, was Manchego in the Mare Open Trot. She was dominant against a quality, quality field. As she turned for home, the word I bellowed out was “domination,” and that was more than accurate as she dismissed her rivals easily.
Next was Caviart Ally once again getting the best of Shartin N in the Open Mare Pace. Shartin had been the dominant horse all year, but it looks like she hit her peak in the summer with those big wins on Hambo Day at the Meadowlands and then another in the Clara Barton Pace at Plainridge Park. You never know if this is the case of one race too many, but clearly, the Wonder from Down Under is tired in this the fall racing season.
On the other hand, Caviart Ally is running her best right now, so let’s not take anything away from her. She proved that her defeat of Shartin at The Red Mile in the Allerage was no fluke. As the mares turned for home, there really was no doubt that Caviart Ally would win. Shartin had the lead, but the leg turnover told the story. It was a matter of when, and Caviart Ally took the Crown and likely ended Shartin’s quest for overall Horse of the Year.
In the 3-year old Filly Pace, Warrawee Ubeaut dominated as advertised. She was 1/5 as the gates opened and she dismissed her rivals with little sweat. If she continues to race and mature she will be something to see as a 4-year old. As for the remainder of 2019, might we see her in the TVG Open Pace, taking on the older ones?
In the Hambletonian many thought heavy favorite Greenshoe “goofed around,” too much, eventually succumbing to Forbidden Trade in the $1 million race. It sort of looked like he was up to those tricks again in the 3-year Colt and Gelding Trot and again, he allowed the race to get away from him as the talented New York-bred, Gimpanzee prevailed in 1:52.3.
Take nothing away from ‘Zee; he was the best horse deserving of the victory. The one great thing about racing is you have to bring your game in a race with all that talent. Gimpanzee sure did.
And, what else can we say, but “Vive la France.” Those that follow harness racing know all about Bold Eagle, the 8-year old Flying Frenchman. We may not have seen many of his races, but when a horse has 45 career wins and nearly $8 million in earnings, it’s pretty hard to not pay attention. Eight days ago, he came to North American to run over here for the first time, and those that have followed his career in Europe say his belter days have passed.
I don’t know if “The Eagle,” read those clips, but he was simply marvelous in the Open Trot. Driven masterfully by Hall of Famer Brian Sears, the Bold One got away perfectly in fourth and then at the half-mile, took over—for good. When they came after him late, he had an answer and simply outclassed the field to score win number 46.
It makes you wonder how much fun it would have been to see Bold Eagle come over here at his peak, because he certainly looked like he plenty of race left in him.
It’s always great to see an athlete/horse live up to the hype. Had Bold Eagle performed badly, the narrative would have been “at least we got to see him race over here,” before his career ended.
If Bold Eagle lost in a close one, the narrative would have been, “wow he ran well, I’m glad we got to see him compete here for what may be one of his final races.”
The narrative was even better and fans walked away thinking, “look at that, the horse lived up to his billing and did so in dominating fashion.” As he neared the finish line, a wry smile appeared on my face with the thought, “good for him,” muttering out.
A good two days of racing at one of the best racetracks in the sport is in the books. Next year, the Breeders Crown returns to Hoosier Park for the second time, which like WMP is a 7/8 mile layout.
It won’t disappoint.