10/26/2015 2:07PM

Bergman: Betting Line raced like a champ in Breeders Crown

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Betting Line is an Ontario Sire Stakes champion.

There is a difference between training and racing. There is also a difference between racing under rating and competing from start to finish.

As 2-year-olds explore the racing canvas for the first time they meet different challenges. Through the course of the first campaign there are countless battles that never take place, strictly because the talent of one or two is so much superior to the test that horses just line up rather than attack.

With the sport now splintered in a certain way that allows horses to remain local for much of the year and only get together on rare occasions, like the Breeders Crown, often the viewer is left to wonder if the true character of a horse or horses have been revealed.

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Such was the case this past Saturday when ten 2-year-old colt pacers convened for the $600K US Breeders Crown event.

On paper, as we like to say in a world that has become paperless, there were a few in the field that looked fast enough to contend for the title. Horses had campaigned in Ontario, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey for sire stakes and Grand Circuit action, but this collection had never been in a single race that resembled the one on Saturday.

The weather was lousy and the track was considerably off but that didn't stop the first-year pacers from conducting the first three quarters of the mile with fractions of 25 3/5, 53 2/5 and 1:22 2/5.

Elimination races a week earlier over a better surface had produced three quarter mile times much slower than what we witnessed on Saturday night. Thus horses had the chance to be reserved for the stretch and finish races in a sprint, rather than a crawl to the finish line.

Boston Red Rocks, a consistent if not spectacular son of Rocknroll Hanover and thus the lone New Jersey-bred in the field, made a sweeping move in the stretch and went by the leaders to post a major upset for trainer Steve Elliott. Pilot Tim Tetrick equaled his brother's tally on the night of Crown wins with the steer.

The last quarter may be considered the test of champions but in this race you should dissect the action and make your own determination.

There were three horses at the wire that benefitted greatly from the early pace and a single fourth-place finisher that did not. The money will be divided based on finish order and that meant that Big Top Hanover and Nvestment Bluechip, two horses that did little of the heavy lifting in the early stages, would get 22.5 percent and 10.8 percent of the pie. Betting Line, the horse that stood out to me for his giant effort of gaining control in the race and maintaining it under incredible stress, came away with just 7.2 percent for his connections trainer Casie Coleman and owners West Wins Stable, Christine Calhoun and Mac Nichol.

Money matters, but in the course of a horse carving out a name in this sport, accomplishment on the racetrack is generally not based on how fast a horse is but rather how fast and how tough he can be when put to the test.

On Saturday, Betting Line was parked well past the 25 3/5 opening quarter as Talk Show, an also eligible that scratched into the race, secured the early advantage. Chris Christoforou had Betting Line moving at top speed to gain control off the opening bend but he was parked to nearly the halfway point before clearing Talk Show completely.

It wasn't long before the pressure was applied as American Passport and driver Scott Zeron made a quick move but dissolved from the scene with an untimely break.

The half mile of 53 2/5 was the fastest of the night by more than a full second, and that's saying something considering there were four other pacing events for 3-year-olds and Open company on the program.

Betting Line was immediately engaged by Racing Hill, once the colt's stablemate had made a miscue and he put severe pressure on the pacesetter. Christoforou coaxed the son of Bettors Delight along and he dug in bravely turning for home with the tele-timer reading 1:22 2/5 for three-quarters. No matter what variant you wish to apply to the races on Saturday, it was clear that none of these horses had experienced this pace previously in their respective careers.

Control The Moment was undefeated in eight starts heading into the Crown and by anybody's definition the trip he was getting couldn't have been any more perfect. Randy Waples had him poised on the back of Racing Hill and the Crown looked like his to win with many of the potential closers still well back of the leaders at headstretch.

Betting Line would fight off Racing Hill to the wire and would meet the challenge of Control The Moment right up to the finish line.

The records will show Boston Red Rocks the winner in the Breeders Crown juvenile colt pace of 2015. What the records wont show is the kind of bravery exhibited by Betting Line throughout the course of the event.

Is Racing Hill a horse that refused to pass? Is Control The Moment lessened because he lost one race? These are questions that still could be answered this year or perhaps may need time in 2016 to completely explain.

For me Saturday's Woodbine card produced 12 Crown champions and a most courageous also ran that will have to wait to get the respect he deserves.

Betting Line was tested for toughness and passed with flying colors.