08/25/2016 1:25PM

Bergman: Obrigado should enjoy the change of venue in Crawford Farms Trot

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JJ Zamaiko Photography
Obrigado won his only start at Vernon Downs last year.

In baseball there’s always next year. For those who enjoy harness racing, the chance to even the score generally comes a whole lot sooner. Trainer Paul Kelley witnessed his 6-year-old Obrigado finishing off the board for the first time in 2016 last Saturday at Pocono and the conditioner is hopeful his horse can bounce back in Friday’s $193,000 Crawford Farms Trot at Vernon Downs.

“He always bounces back well from defeat,” said Kelley. “He doesn’t hang his head or get his feelings bruised.”

Considering the buzz saw that Obrigado ran into at Pocono in the new world champion Homicide Hunter, it would be easy for the trainer to be more than concerned having drawn post seven on Friday with Homicide Hunter landing post two. Yet Kelley seemed far more concerned with the change of scenery, even though it brings with it a field far more talented than the one he faced in the Sebastian K invite this past Saturday.

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“I think Homicide Hunter may have had home field advantage,” Kelley said in regard to the blowout 1:50 1/5 score by the gelding owned by this race’s sponsor. “Obrigado gets around this track very well and I think Vernon is the best surface for him in New York.”

Homicide Hunter appeared to be channeling Sebastian K in his romp a week ago, marching to the front and exploding with a 54 3/5 final half while leaving some very talented horses in his wake.

Kelley of course was more than aware that on other occasions away from Pocono Obrigado had little difficulty disposing of Homicide Hunter.

The Crawford Farms has a solid field of nine with trainer Ake Svanstedt having an enormous amount of power in Crescent Fashion (post 1), Centurion ATM (post 5) and the current division leader Resolve (post 6). Svanstedt will guide Resolve, an impressive 1:50 2/5 winner in the Cashman Memorial at The Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day.

Earlier this year Kelley thought that Obrigado was a notch below Resolve, but his opinion is starting to change based on the impressive resume his horse has put together this year.

“I think Mark (driver MacDonald) is gaining more and more confidence with the horse,” said Kelley. “We might be getting a little closer to Resolve and the others.”

Obrigado was a solid second behind Resolve in the Cashman and then finished a very credible fourth in last week’s Homicide Hunter world record mile.

The Crawford Farms is the feature on the Vernon Friday night program but the card is packed with stakes action including the $170,000 Muscle Hill, an event for aged trotting mares carded as race nine. The headliner will feature a return matchup between Hannelore Hanover, the brilliant 4-year-old from the Ron Burke stable that has been winning everything in sight and doing it effortlessly, and former Trotter of the Year Shake It Cerry. Hannelore Hanover, a daughter of Swan For All bred in Indiana, drew post seven in the field of eight with her chief rival Shake It Cerry landing post five. The two met in an epic matchup on Hambletonian Day with Hannelore Hanover going down the road in the one and one-eighths mile event to hold off Shake It Cerry by a neck. Shake It Cerry in that encounter was overland and parked much of the distance.

Vernon also plays host to the New York Sire Stakes division for 2-year-old male pacers and it sets the stage for two unbeaten colts to collide for the first time in the $55,500 second division of the night. Serious Major, a homebred of the Emerald Highlands Farm, looks for his sixth straight without defeat. Trainer Brian Brown sent the colt to Chris Ryder to condition in New York and the son of Art Major has advanced from the Excelsior A division to the big leagues as evidenced by his 1:56 2/5 effort in a $75,112 division at Yonkers on August 18. Serious Major drew post four, directly inside Funknwaffles, a son of American Ideal that has captured his first five starts while also advancing from the lower tier to full NYSS victories. Funknwaffles is owned by Crawford Farms and trained by the red-hot John Butenschoen, who captured three Pennsylvania Sire Stakes events for juvenile trotters at Pocono this past Sunday evening.

JAYWALKING: Kelley reported that Such An Angel, the full brother to Archangel, is in good shape following a miscue at Tioga Downs this past Sunday afternoon. The son of Credit Winner had his string of three consecutive NYSS victories broken. “He made a booboo,” said Kelley. “Maybe he was getting a little excited behind the gate but I think it’s a good thing this happened now as opposed to say the New York Sire Stakes final.”

Until Sunday, Such An Angel had looked like a serious contender not just in New York but on the Grand Circuit as well. Kelley suggested that if all goes well he could be Lexington bound in the fall, perhaps racing in the second week of Grand Circuit action at The Red Mile. Such An Angel is also Breeders Crown eligible.

David Miller finally took the wraps off Betting Line this past Saturday night and the Casie Coleman-trained colt was simply awesome in his 1:47 2/5 world record mile in the Battle of the Brandywine. It would be easy to suggest that Betting Line was the “fresh” horse, with Coleman keeping the son of Bettor’s Delight in Ontario to campaign in the lucrative Ontario Sires program as opposed to chase bigger fish in stakes events like the Meadowlands and Cane Paces. Yet at the same time there’s just no reason to travel when a horse can build up a solid bank account racing in locally restrictive stakes events. Horses in Pennsylvania and New York need to build points towards a rich final and Betting Line will be a big favorite in the Super Final in Ontario.

I just have to wonder aloud why the connections of Pure Country accepted the invitation to race in the Milstein (against Betting Line) at Northfield on October 13 rather than go against Pennsylvania-sired fillies at Pocono the same weekend. While she did finish second in the Milstein, it was her first time ever on a half-mile track and she got the worst of it in the draw and in the race. I have to believe that may have taken the edge off of her when she proved no match to Darlinonthebeach in the Valley Forge. Pure Country needs no excuses, but post nine and a lack of advancing cover were a factor in only her second off-the-board finish of a brilliant career.

I’m still bewildered by the news that Lyons Snyder was taken from trainer Mark Silva and moved into the Jimmy Takter stable. Silva revealed that to me on Saturday when I mistakenly asked him about the horse’s condition.

It’s a results based business to be sure but the feeling from this corner was that Silva was able to do with Lyons Snyder what trainer Ron Burke was not. If it were the NBA, they would have at least allowed him to finish out the year.

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