10/23/2012 3:07PM

Bergman: Tetrick holds strong hand in Breeders Crown Championship finals

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Derick Giwner
Driver Tim Tetrick will try to find cover with Market Share while keeping him forwardly placed in the Breeders Crown for 3-year-old trotting colts.

He is known as the “Bionic Man” to the Meadowlands faithful. He might as well be known as the “Golden Boy.” Driver Tim Tetrick has had the Midas touch since 2007 when he posted an amazing 1,189 driving victories and started a run of six consecutive years at the helm of the money-winners leaderboard.

On Saturday at Woodbine Racetrack, Tetrick will guide horses in 11 of the 12 Breeders Crown Championship finals, including the four leading contenders for 2012 Horse of the Year honors.

The prolific winner took the time to go over his mounts and offered a rather interesting and detailed approach that by itself may be the key to his amazing success rate.

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“I thought when Market Share trotted home in :50 and change at The Red Mile that his mind was getting stronger,” said Tetrick.

The driver was talking about the Hambletonian winner and probable favorite in the Breeders Crown for 3-year-old trotting colts, who up until the Red Mile race had in his words been winning races but only by small margins.

So that’s why it was somewhat surprising to see Market Share trot to the lead in last week’s elimination only to be overpowered by supplemental entry Intimidate late in the stretch.

“I don’t think he heard that other horse at all,” said Tetrick, whose telling comments could be pivotal in crafting his driving style for the final.

Market Share will likely find a cover trip, with Tetrick keeping him in contact with other horses so as not to have the horse fall asleep on him with so much on the line.

The driver doesn’t appear to have the same concerns about Chapter Seven, his mount in the $600,000 Breeders Crown Open Trot.

“You can do anything you want with him. I can send him to the front or take him off,” said Tetrick.

It sounded as if the 30-year-old Tetrick has complete confidence in his horse and is not really concerned about the pace of the race, though he did caution that he wouldn’t want to risk a slow pace while sitting too far back. That concern was likely due to the presence of Commander Crowe, the Elitlopp winner who will be making his first start in North America this year after campaigning exclusively in Europe.

It’s hard to say that Tetrick could have any more confidence than he does in Check Me Out, the favorite in the Breeders Crown 3-year-old filly trot.

The defending champion was defeated in her last start by rival Win Missy B in the first heat of the Kentucky Futurity. It was a race where Check Me Out grabbed the front, allowed Win Missy B to wrest command and then was never able to regain the lead.

“I’ll give the other filly credit,” said Tetrick, “But there’s no way my filly was at the top of her game that day. I’m not sure what was wrong but I let Ronnie (Pierce) go expecting to rip out and go right by her when I pulled.”

Tetrick fully expects Check Me Out to bounce back in a big way on Saturday night.

Perhaps no horse has captured the imagination of lovers of the breed as Captaintreacherous has this year. The colt from the first crop of Somebeachsomewhere has won the Wilson, The Metro, and consecutive stakes at the Red Mile before heading back to Ontario for an impressive victory in last week’s Breeders Crown trials.

“It’s amazing how a 2-year-old can stay that sharp all season long. It’s not like he’s going slow miles. He’s pacing in 1:50,” said Tetrick.

Some analysts were concerned with Captaintreacherous’ performance the second week at the Red Mile.

“The first week he was unbelievable,” said Tetrick. “You know it’s a long two weeks down there. The second week it was like he was on vacation yet he still found a way to win.”

In Market Share, Chapter Seven, Check Me Out, and Captaintreacherous, Tetrick holds a strong hand. But the Illinois native has a few more cards up his sleeve.

American Jewel, his drive in the 3-year-old filly pacing division, looked like an odds-on prospect earlier this year when she blew away the competition in the Fan Hanover at Mohawk. The driver believes American Jewel, like many, has had to deal with the aches and pains of miles in 1:49.

“She’s not as dominant as she was but she’s still the best,” said Tetrick with a great deal of confidence in the daughter of American Ideal.

Of Heston Blue Chip, his charge in the Breeders Crown 3-year-old colt pace, Tetrick was hardly surprised by the colt’s strong wining elimination mile in 1:50 3/5.

While the New York bred has been tough to beat during his career, he doesn’t own a major victory in Grand Circuit action this year. That fact doesn’t seem to be weighing heavily on Tetrick’s confidence in the colt.

“He had post 9 in the Cane at Tioga and that’s a real tough place to start,” said Tetrick. “He raced great in the Meadowlands Pace but what chance did we have coming the back half they did.

“He whipped everybody in the Meadowlands Pace elimination,” he continued, recalling a moment when the Linda Toscano trainee appeared to show the best in class that he belonged.

Tetrick appeared to have a particular fondness for Royalty For Life, the 2-year-old colt he’ll command for trainer George Ducharme.

“I love this trotter. He’s great to drive,” Tetrick said.

Royalty For Life finished a solid second behind the undefeated Wheeling N Dealin and driver Sylvain Filion in the elimination.

“I think if I had taken it to Sylvain in a different way he could have won,” critiqued Tetrick on his tactics.

It appeared during the Breeders Crown elimination weekend as if Tetrick was seeing way too much of top Ontario driver Filion. It was Filion who orchestrated the upset of Market Share with Intimidate and Filion who held him off with Wheeling N Dealin. But it seemed as if Tetrick took Filion’s decision to park him and Anndrovette with Rebeka Bayama in a Crown prep a little more personally.

“I thought Sylvain would let me go,” said Tetrick, before promising things would be different in the final.

“I can tell you with Anndrovette’s early speed they’re going to have to catch me,” Tetrick concluded.

With just over $15 million in earnings this year, Tetrick has the opportunity to eclipse the $15.8 million total he achieved last year, although that accomplishment would have been more difficult if not for a freaky event on the eve of the 2011 Breeders Crown.

Last year Tetrick and some other drivers were stranded in New Jersey as a snowstorm kept them grounded and forced them to miss Breeders Crown night.

“It hadn’t snowed in New Jersey in October since the Civil War,” said Tetrick, still amazed at the circumstances that caused him to miss four Breeders Crown winning mounts.

As for those worried that he would miss this year’s Crown night, that’s not going to happen.

“I’ll be driving at Vernon on Friday night and fly up after the races,” Tetrick said.

The driver modestly predicted one or two Breeders Crown victories this Saturday night but that number would probably be a disappointment for him and the connections of the great horses he’s scheduled to drive.

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