11/08/2015 12:03AM

Bergman: American-National results are proof of a great 2016 to come

David Baum Photo
Freaky Feet Pete closed out his 2015 campaign with his 15th win of the year.

The stars of tomorrow were on display on Saturday night at Balmoral Park. What that means is there will be a long winter ahead for those of us interested in seeing the best of the breed go eye-to-eye. The good news for those who witnessed the American-Nationals contested on Saturday night is that what awaits the sport in 2016 could set a standard for the sport we have not seen.

Closing out a vintage fall campaign was the 3-year-old Freaky Feet Pete flashing his finest in his finale with a 1:48 4/5 monster effort equaling the stakes mark in the American-National. A few races later it was Always B Miki breezing to a 1:49 1/5 victory. Kept out of action for most of the year while recuperating from major injuries, Always B Miki was very comfortable at the wire.

The lack of late-season competition might make both victors look better than they are but both were convincing in the Breeders Crown and equally superior on Saturday night. That they will likely meet in 2016 and on more than one occasion is reason enough to get excited about the not so distant future.

The Balmoral card featured much of the same as we've been witnessing over the last couple of weeks, with trainer Jimmy Takter continuing his hot season by capturing three American-National divisions. Master Of Law has taken a back seat for much of the racing season while at times showing the kind of ability that was expected of him a few years back. The son of Deweycheatumnhowe defeated an abbreviated field in the non-wagering division for aged trotters with Dave Miller annexing the first of his three American-National winning drives. Master Of Law and runner-up E L Titan (making his first start since August) are likely on their way to the Meadowlands to compete in the TVG on Saturday night. This division has been dwindling in numbers all season long and these two could be major players in the November 21 final.

Perhaps there is no more aptly named horse in the Jimmy Takter stable than The Bank. A money making machine for most of the year with eight second-place finishes in 16 starts heading into Saturday, the son of Donato Hanover had his way with an arguably weaker set than he handled in the Breeders Crown two weeks earlier. The win pushed his seasonal bankroll to nearly $1 million, which is quite the accomplishment considering he recorded just five wins on the season.

Perhaps the most meaningful detail from Saturday's American-National sendoff was the three victories credited to Indiana sire Rockin Image in neighboring Illinois. Indeed we have seen Freaky Feet Pete compete on the national and international stage, but the next generation of Rockin Images appear to be nearly as bright considering the victories by Cant Touch This (1:53 4/5) in the 2-year-old filly stakes and Mystical Rock (1:52 1/5) in the juvenile colt division.

You have to wonder just what might have been had trainer Chris Oakes gotten a hold of Devil Child earlier in the season. The daughter of American Ideal looked invincible with another crushing mile on Saturday night. Back-to-back stakes victories in 1:50 3/5 is quite impressive considering just how cold it's getting out there.

It wasn't a night for longshots unless you happened to consider the weaker half of the Tony O'Sullivan uncoupled entry of Muscle Baby Doll (10 wins in 2015) and You're Majestic (one win in 2015). You're Majestic looked her stablemate in the eye and went on by at 33-1 in the sophomore filly trot division. Driver Yannick Gingras wasn't deterred by the odds. "She made a break at the start last time but she finished really good after that," said Gingras of the Hoosier Park misfortune. The driver learned from his experience and took it easy at the start and the daughter of Majestic Son won in a career best 1:54 1/5 clocking.