01/24/2013 12:19PM

Harness Racing: Will Captaintreacherous be hit or miss?


Captaintreacherous was the golden boy of the 2012 rookie pacing crop. The son of superstar Somebeachsomewhere earned $918,253 while winning 8 of 10 races during a spectacular campaign which was only tarnished by a Breeders Crown defeat.

Captaintreacherous enters this year as the winter book favorite to win most of the big events. The North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Adios and Breeders Crown are all his for the taking. The sky is the limit. Or is it?

Truth be told, you are better off not being the best young pacer coming into a new year. Looking back, there have been many special 2-year-olds over the last decade and nearly as many disappointments once we add a year to their age. Only twice in the previous 10 seasons has the 2-year-old Pacer of the Year come back the following year and earned more money than he did as a freshman. Take into account that only four $200,000-plus stakes were contested for 2-year-olds in 2012 and 18 for 3-year-olds and it makes the 2-in-10 statistic even more shocking.

The magnificent duo who accomplished the feat were Somebeachsomewhere (2007-08) and Sweet Lou (2011-12). Somebeachsomewhere was simply a freak of nature who collected an amazing $2,448,003 while taking home all but one of his career starts. He is still the co-record holder as the fastest pacer ever (1:46 4/5) and held the best mark for 2-year-olds at 1:49 3/5. Sweet Lou (1:49) and Captaintreacherous (1:49 2/5) have since come with faster miles. Sweet Lou earned over $1 million last year (about $400k more than his 2yo season) but most would have to admit the year was somewhat of a disappointment, with only one major stakes win.

The remaining eight champion pacers at two from 2002 to 2011, averaged $880,412 in their first year of racing and just $390,863 in their second tour of duty. Taking out Major In Art, who did not race after his 2-year-old season, the total still only rises to $446,701.

Including all the pacing champions from the last 10 years, the good and the bad, the average decrease in total earnings from 2 to 3 was a hefty 29%.

While no one can predict whether or not Captaintreacherous will be the next Somebeachsomewhere or simply a dud as a 3-year-old, it seems logical to predict he will make a fair amount of money. But more than likely he will be overhyped and overbet.

I like stars as much as the next guy and nothing would make me happier than seeing an undefeated season or some spectacular display of ability on the track by the Captain. Unfortunately recent history says that the cards are stacked against him.

Meadowlands stakes finals

The Meadowlands will host three interesting stakes finals on Saturday – Super Bowl, Clyde Hirt & Presidential.

Before getting into the races themselves, it is worth mentioning the current deep freeze that had engulfed the east coast. Temperatures have been hovering in the low 20’s lately and wind has varied from day to day. If you are wagering on these stakes, you will definitely want to view the first race or two to check the conditions and see if a bias develops.

The $51,000 Super Bowl is the best betting event of the trio. With an unfavorable draw for the likely favorites, more than half the field has a legitimate chance at the top spot. Here are some of my thoughts on the race:

Top contenders: Windsun Galliano, Where To Hanover, Wisenheimer, Helios

All four of the above trotters has either won a Super Bowl leg in under 1:55 over the previous two weeks or appears capable of accomplishing that feat on Saturday. Weather permitting, it seems likely that a mile in the high 1:54 range will win the final.

Windsun Galliano is not the easiest horse to manage but clearly has a will to win when he minds his manners. Post 10 will be tough, but he is the only horse in the race that I would feel comfortable betting if the trip didn’t work out.

Where To Hanover probably should have won last week but really didn’t need the victory to make the final, so I can’t hold that against him. He has the huge advantage of drawing inside the other top contenders and a quick turn of early speed.

Wisenheimer overcame post 10 last week while setting a career best time. My question is whether he is just sharp now or is he a new horse that can regularly compete at this level?  I’m just not sold on him for my tickets.

Helios worries me from post 8. If he doesn’t leave he will have no shot of winning and if he does leave, he’ll have company in Where To Hanover right to his inside.

Worth using: No Less Than Magic, Joyeux Dream

No Less Than Magic seems to be making a career of coming late for a piece of the pie. Those horses are good for the exotics but not so much on top. That said, I find the switch to Ron Pierce interesting. He tends to drive on the aggressive side and that could benefit this guy.

Joyeux Dream will only have a spot on my tickets in the trifecta and superfecta slots. I respect his speed but have doubts about his ability to wire the field or rate.

Final Thoughts: I’ll be going with a win play on (10) Windsun Galliano. On my multi-leg wagers, I’ll use him, Where To Hanover and No Less Than Magic as a longshot.

The $67,400 Clyde Hirt looks like a match race between Holdingallthecards and One Through Ten at first glance. Each is undefeated in the series and perfect in three seasonal starts. Let’s dig deeper . . .

Top Contenders: Holdingallthecards, One Through Ten

The top two will be close to co-favorites and are both capable of winning. My guess is that Holdingallthecards will float away from the rail and driver Tim Tetrick will brush to the front between the quarter and the half. He will likely be in control of this race. However, speed doesn’t hold as well during the winter months and One Through Ten has displayed the ability to win from on or off the pace. He moved uncovered last week and kept going. That is a sign of a sharp horse!

Worth using: Ethan Hanover, Bestjetyet, Mr Dennis, Cee Cee Panic, Screen The Call

Any of the above is capable of coming up with a mile that would win this final. Let’s face it, most of these horses will not be racing for $67k very often this year and there really is no reason to save their best for a later dance. Of the bunch, Ethan Hanover (best early speed), Bestjetyet (looks good when he doesn’t break) and Mr Dennis (sharp and in a hot barn now) appear to be the most interesting players.

Final Thoughts: If I could get 3-2 or higher, I would take a shot with (8) One Through Ten on the win end. I would also play a multi-race ticket keying One Through Ten and another using all of the contenders (if affordable).

The $103,500 Presidential doesn’t require much analysis. It really looks like a one-horse race.

Only Contender: Golden Receiver

Golden Receiver has dominated the first two legs and hardly broke a sweat along the way. He loves the Meadowlands and none of these can match his early speed or staying power. One would think with the $100k purse on the line that some horse will take a shot at him, but my thinking is that they will respect his ability and look for the best trip to finish second.

Worth Using: None

I wouldn’t even consider another horse in this race as a top pick unless there is a strong bias against speed.

Final Thoughts: Pick your cold exacta and hope it works out. Mine will be with (7) Golden Receiver over (2) Dial Or Nodial, who is probably better than the rest right now.