11/17/2014 11:36AM

Bergman: 2014 Breeders Crown is a family affair

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Derick Giwner
Yagonnakissmeornot is part of three brother-sister pairs in this year's Breeders Crown.

In a sport generally dominated by commercial breeding operations, this year’s Breeders Crown finals bring to light that there is indeed opportunity for the small breeder to hit a home run.

What’s interesting about the dozen Breeders Crown events scheduled for this weekend at the Meadowlands is that three small breeders will have six chances for glory from just three broodmares. The odds of reaching the Breeders Crown no matter how strong a pedigree are slim, to breed horses in consecutive years and see both in Breeders Crown events is truly phenomenal.

Leading the way to the championship events have to be the brother-sister act of JK Endofanera and JK She’salady. The Katz Brothers (all three) maintained their hold on the Presidential Ball-sired mare Presidential Lady just long enough to reap the benefits of her abilities. It’s not as if the 3 Brothers Stable didn’t try to hit a home run with the half-sister to the speedy colts J K Bandit and J K Outlaw. Presidential Lady was bred to Artsplace and his son Artiscape to duplicate the cross that worked effectively in the previous generation. They also tried the Western Hanover stallion line on three occasions and the best they could do is come up with a gelding that could both pace and trot but do neither successfully.

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In 2008 Presidential Lady was bred for the first time to New York’s popular stallion Art Major. The son of Artsplace has clearly brought something different to the pedigree cross equation. JK Fine Art proved a talented filly on the New York Sire Stakes circuit in 2011-2012 and raced well enough to earn $374,102 in three years on the track.

With both JK Endofanera and JK She’salady in 2014, Presidential Lady has outdone herself, and probably most other pacing broodmares in North America. The former has captured the richest race of 2014, the North America Cup, and the latter, the undefeated JK She’salady, looks to complete a perfect season and become the first two-year-old pacing filly to be anointed Horse of the Year.

JK Endofanera has not been as dominant as his younger sister, but he’s had a lot more mileage over two years of racing and steps into Saturday’s three-year-old colt pace off a solid second-place finish to likely favorite Always B Miki.

JK Endofanera and JK She’salady are among three brother-sister acts looking for glory this coming weekend. Always B Miki and his older half-sister Yagonnakissmeornot, should they win the three-year-old pacing colt and Open Mare Crowns, become the first supplemented siblings to capture titles in the 30-year history of the Breeders Crown.

You could say the two are inseparable if you were watching Saturday’s races. First Always B Miki clicked off a 1:50 mile in capturing his $25,000 Crown elimination at the Meadowlands and less than 30 minutes later Yagonnakissmeornot defeated the best open mares at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in a $35,000 closing night event.

The two are not full brother and sister, with Always A Virgin the sire of Always B Miki and The Panderosa teaming with broodmare Artstopper to produce Yagonnakissmeornot.

Breeder Joe Hurley (Roll The Dice Stable) didn’t have to look as hard as the 3 Brothers to find the right combination here. He stayed relatively loyal to the Western Hanover-stallion line, hitting on the third and fifth foal of the Artsplace-sired mare.

Hurley followed the same pattern as the 3 Brothers in holding on to Artstopper, the first Artsplace mating to his $300,000 winning broodmare Aint No Stopn Me. Aint No Stopn Me had been bred to Western Hanover her first four years as a broodmare with the best results being her first foal, the $729K winning Cheyenne Rei.

What’s interesting about the maternal line of Always B Miki and Yagonnakissmeornot is that it is not a rarity for lightning to strike twice. Aint No Stopn Me’s second dam Savilla Song did exactly what Artstopper appears to have accomplished. Savilla Song produced the full brothers Super Wave and Springfield by the sire Shadow Wave. Jack Kopas had amazing success with Super Wave in the late 60’s and early 70’s, and Springfield, while not at the same level as the near-half million dollar winning Super Wave, was a force in the elite ranks earning a shade over $400K.

On the trotting side of the Breeders Crown, the full sister and brother act of Shake It Cerry and Uncle Lasse will try to keep it in the family for trainer Jimmy Takter. Shake It Cerry has been virtually flawless during the second half of the stakes season dominating the three-year-old filly trotters. Driver Ron Pierce has repeatedly insisted that she’s the best sophomore trotter racing regardless of sex and it’s getting harder and harder to disagree with that assessment. Shake It Cerry and Uncle Lasse are both by Donato Hanover and out of the $820K winning Solveig. The dam is rapidly becoming one of the best of all time with four stakes winners of elite character from her first five foals.

While it has been smooth sailing for Shake It Cerry, Uncle Lasse has had to deal with some tough trips recently. On Saturday he was locked inside and had to get free late just to finish fifth and qualify for the final. While Pierce has called Uncle Lasse “My 2015 Hambletonian horse,” that’s no reason to disqualify the horse from contention in Saturday’s $500,000 final for juvenile colts.

Speaking of Uncle Lasse, he is one of five trained by Jimmy Takter and owned in part by his wife Christina that are entered in the Crown. Despite having one trainer and half the horses in the field, the Takter quintet goes “uncoupled” as per New Jersey Racing Commission rules that pardon common connections when the purse is high enough.

It’s sad that integrity minded people can’t somehow see their way past this arcane rule that was probably passed to separate perhaps two horses but in no way could have envisioned half a field drawn with common thread.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that saw the Jimmy Takter-driven The Bank bear out off the final turn freeing his uncoupled stablemate Pinkman in time in an elimination on Saturday.

Gamblers shouldn’t have to speculate if such actions were intentional or not. The New Jersey Racing Commission is doing no bettors a service by remaining mute on this issue.