03/17/2015 4:29PM

Giwner: The elite 3YO Trotters and Pacers of 2015

Centurion ATM won the Peter Haughton Memorial final at the Meadowlands in 2014.

As any stockbroker will affirm, predicting the future is no easy task. We can use statistics, logic and personal reasoning but ultimately it is speculation. When once again asked to rank my projected top money-winning 3-year-old pacers and trotters of 2015 for the annual Hoof Beats editions I was of course willing to oblige.

First came the trotters. I studied the data from last year and attempted to strike the right balance between ability, consistency, eligibility to major stakes and the possibility of improvement. Ultimately my selections are somewhat unlikely to match the final results, but I do take pride in knowing that I ranked Trixton in my top 10 last year and he certainly did me proud on the track.

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For those who would like to record my top picks and scold me at a later date, here they are:

1-Centurion ATM: Like many of the horses in the Ake Svanstedt barn I think this guy peaked a bit too early in the year. Looking at his body of work and natural speed from 2014, I expect a strong year from this colt.

2-Whom Shall I Fear: He falls into the same category as Trixton for me. A Jimmy Takter-trained colt that just wasn’t ready to perform at a high level as a rookie. Let’s remember that despite paltry earnings in 2014, he is a full brother to Father Patrick and Pastor Stephen.

3-Mission Brief: If I was ranking the group on pure speed she would win hands down. Will she get her behind-the-gate antics under control as a 3-year-old? Can she finish with the highest earnings if she skips or loses in the Hambletonian? She could easily be the top trotter of 2015.

4-Muscle Diamond: He was getting to Breeders Crown winner Pinkman through a pretty solid 27 4/5 final quarter at the Meadowlands last November. Watching this colt I always got the impression we haven’t seen his best yet.

5-Pinkman: He was the 2-year-old champion in the colt trotting division and certainly earned the honor. I can’t say anything negative but I just have a feeling he won’t be the top colt.

That’s my top five as of mid-March. Of course that could change mightily in two or three months.

Now the Pacing side was a bit more difficult, and by that I mean your guess is as good as mine who will reign supreme in 2015. I spent a good half-hour looking over the “field” and came up with a blank. Just scratching the surface on possible contenders . . .

Artspeak is the winter book favorite to succeed based on his championship title in 2014, but while I think he could be the top earning sophomore pacer this year, I wouldn’t put my money on it.

JK She’salady won Horse of the Year honors but is unlikely to face the boys in 2015 and thus won’t race for enough money to stand atop the earnings mountain.

Traceur Hanover won the colt Breeders Crown back in November while racing for a trainer that has since been suspended. How do I quantify his ability now that he’ll be in a new barn?

In The Arsenal displayed brilliant speed at times. Does he mature and become a monster in 2015? I simply can’t decide.

Linscott Photo      Indiana Champion Freaky Feet Pete.

Freaky Feet Pete was probably one of the most talented 2-year-olds last year. But he went under the radar while competing in Indiana and is far from widely nominated for major races this year. That means leading the nation in earnings is simply not going to happen. He will provide some great reasons to watch racing at Hoosier Park this year.

And of course there is Wiggle It Jiggleit. Year after year there is a horse which looks great in February, March or April and lures the nation into thinking he could be a serious contender when the top-flight horses return in May. I would never let myself fall into that trap, right?

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I’m not about to crown Wiggle It Jiggleit the 3-year-old pacer of the year quite yet despite his brilliant performances and unblemished record in six starts. However, I’ve seen enough that against a seemingly wide-open group of second-year performers, he could continue to shine when the big money is on the line. It isn’t impossible . . . Artistic Fella began qualifying in February of his 3-year-old year, won the Suslow final in April at the Meadowlands and went on to win the Meadowlands Pace and over $900k.

The only certainty is that spring is approaching Friday and the best trotters and pacers in the game will soon be battling on the track. Here’s to a great year of stakes racing!