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Breeders Crown: Spotlight brightest on Captaintreacherous, Bee A Magician, Foiled Again
On a night when the elite will gather at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs to crown the sport’s champions, few would argue that the spotlight will shine brightest on three particular horses – Captaintreacherous, Bee A Magician and Foiled Again. Through this year and spanning their careers we have experienced the entire spectrum of superlatives. What can they do for an encore?
The conversation commences with Captaintreacherous and Bee A Magician. The former is a pacing colt, the latter a trotting filly, and the similarities between the pair are difficult to uncover past their on-track accomplishments. Those triumphs have placed the two in a deadlock for possible Horse of the Year honors and the Breeders Crown figures to play a prominent role in determining the likely winner.
For Captaintreacherous it has been a magical season. The Tony Alagna trainee is but one nose shy of a perfect year. His 11 victories in 12 starts have been a fair mix of domination and fascinating displays of grit and desire. It is in the moments when the outlook appears bleak that we see the true greatness of a horse.
In the $500,000 Hempt final at Pocono in June, Captain was wide on two of the three turns en route to an amazing victory while overcoming post nine. In the $215,500 Tattersalls at The Red Mile he appeared all but defeated by Vegas Vacation only to find more when he needed it most. In his Breeders Crown elimination, Captain was parked past the opening quarter and battled on the rim for the final three-eighths in victory. Even his lone loss was a valiant uncovered nose defeat in a sparkling 1:47 4/5 in the Battle of the Brandywine.
With $1,624,273 earned heading into the final, ‘Captain’ is a Crown win away from breaking the top 10 list for single-season earnings by a pacer. Should he win his remaining scheduled starts (Monument Circle at Hoosier Park, American National at Balmoral Park and possibly the TVG Free-For-All final at New Meadowlands), he would rank third behind only his sire, Somebeachsomewhere (2008) and Gallo Blue Chip (2000). Interestingly enough, if his connections were so bold as to keep Captaintreacherous racing for the $130,000 Cleveland Classic on the half-mile track at Northfield Park, he could finish the year with $2.45 million and assume the moniker “Richest Single-Season Pacer ever.”
It hasn’t necessarily been about the money for Bee A Magician. You are only as good as your record and the 3-year-old daughter of Kadabra and Beehive has yet to taste defeat in 14 starts this year. Her major victories include the $356,981 Elegantimage final, $265,500 Del Miller Memorial and $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks.
While some will argue that nearly half of her starts have come against only Ontario Sire Stakes competition, she has still tackled the best the division has to offer on eight occasions and gotten to the wire first. And there is no denying her raw speed. Only six horses in 2013 have trotted a faster mile than her 1:51 winning Del Miller mile and all of them are older males! The next fastest 3-year-old trotting filly is Mistery Woman at 1:52 1/5, a plateau Bee A Magician has reached on three occasions during her run of perfection.
But maybe her bankroll is the untold story of how great Bee A Magician really has been in 2013. At $1,109,184 in earnings, the Richard “Nifty” Norman trainee only needs to finish fifth in the Breeders Crown final to eclipse Continentalvictory’s single-season mark of $1,178,360 as the highest earning second-year trotting filly in history. This despite the Hambletonian Oaks going for only $500,000 this year, the lowest purse for the classic race since 1996, which is ironically the year Continentalvictory set the record by winning the $1,000,000 Hambletonian.
Coming into the Breeders Crown finals, Bee A Magician leads the current Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll by a mere one point (329-328) over Captaintreacherous. The 35 voters are nearly split down the middle with the filly getting 18 first-place votes to the colt’s 16. Obviously the poll is not a clear indicator of how the entire United States Harness Writers Association membership will vote, but it tells you how pivotal an impressive Breeders Crown victory will be.
“I don’t expect it to happen (win Horse of the Year), so I honestly haven’t thought about it,” said Norman on the year-end honor. “Captaintreacherous races in the glamour division and gets much more press.
“Honestly it (the award) doesn’t matter much to me. I just want to win the Breeders Crown and I’ll be happy,” continued Norman, who said Bee A Magician is scheduled to race one more time in 2013 in the Moni Maker at New Meadowlands at the end of November.
Myron Bell, racing manager for Captaintreacherous Racing, was feeling similarly unphased by the potential honor.
“I want him to win every award but I’m not going to lose sleep over it,” said Bell. “Do you remember who was Horse of the Year five years ago? People remember the races the horse was in, like Somebeachsomewhere in the Meadowlands Pace, not titles.”
In the unlikely event that Captaintreacherous and Bee A Magician should both be unable to get the job done on Saturday, I Luv The Nitelife certainly deserves honorable mention as a Horse of the Year candidate. With 12 wins in 13 starts during the year and $968,337 earned, the Chris Ryder trained pacing filly has put together a remarkable season in her own right.
Then there is the curious case of Foiled Again, a $20,000 yearling purchase way back in 2005. He hardly shocked the world with a 7 wins from his first 27 starts as a 2- and 3-year-old. Now, in his eighth year of racing he is on the verge of becoming the richest standardbred in history.
The statistics speak for themselves: 73 wins in 193 starts (38%); $5,400,093 in career earnings; 76% in-the-money rate.
He will not be winning Horse of the Year in 2013. However, a Breeders Crown victory would result in his third consecutive million-dollar campaign and a possible third straight Older Pacer of the Year award. But most of all, Foiled Again would increase his bankroll to $5,700,093 and surpass the great Varenne ($5,636,255) as the richest horse to wear a harness.
“It would mean a lot to me,” said regular driver Yannick Gingras on setting the record with a Breeders Crown win. “I’m sure at some point he will have it anyway, but to do it in a race like the Breeders Crown, it would really be a crowning moment in his career.”
Foiled Again can rightfully be called a freak of nature. At 9, he is still winning against the best pacers in the sport and starting in more races than foes which are half his age. While he is not as fast as the new crop of 4-year-olds that include Pet Rock and A Rocknroll Dance, he has a heart of gold and a will to win that is unsurpassed. Foiled Again leads the earnings leaderboard for his class and is fresh off a Breeders Crown elimination score.
With all due respect to Captaintreacherous, Bee A Magician and all of the other immensely talented equine athletes that will be on display at Pocono Downs on Saturday, Foiled Again is the only one that can truly make history.
I haven't been into harness very long (grew up on TBs), a few years maybe. It just seems like this is one of the best times to be a fan. The older pacing division is both crazy fast and very competitive. The stars forming in the three year old division appear to be a sign of better racing to come.