10/20/2015 11:07AM

Giwner: Horse of the Year no lock for Wiggle It Jiggleit

Nikki Sherman
Pinkman won the Breeders Crown as a 2-year-old and a repeat could put him in the Horse of the Year picture.

Now that we know the finalists for this year’s Breeders Crown, we can begin to ponder Horse of the Year. The big question is whether the absence of Wiggle It Jiggleit from the Crown can open the door for another horse to unseat him from the top of the hill.

While Wiggle It Jiggleit has been nothing short of spectacular during his brilliant 2015 campaign, we live in a “what have you done for me lately?” society. The George Teague, Jr.-owned gelding remains the horse to beat, but his absence from the Crown leaves very little wiggle room for failure. With all due respect to the Circle City at Hoosier Park (WIJI’s next start), that is not going to add much to his reputation beyond an extra win to his 18 for 21 record and a few bucks to his $1,819,520 in earnings.

[ BREEDERS CROWN: Watch the Championship finals--Live on DRF Saturday!]

Meanwhile, waiting to pounce in the race for the sport’s top honor is 3-year-old trotting star Pinkman. That’s right, I said Pinkman. He’s not flashy and he sometimes seems like the Rodney Dangerfield of the sport, but the stats speak volumes. His record is solid at 11 wins in 15 starts and the $1,750,465 he has earned ranks him a close second to WIJI.

If Pinkman wins his Breeders Crown final, he will vault ahead of WIJI on the earnings leaderboard and eclipse $2,000,000 for the year. That accomplishment alone could be enough to push Pinkman over the top . . . then we have to see how November plays out.

Tale of the Tape – $250K-Plus Stakes Wins

Max Hempt Memorial Earl Beal Memorial
Meadowlands Pace Zweig Memorial
Milstein Memorial Hambletonian
Battle of Brandywine Canadian Trotting Derby
Little Brown Jug Kentucky Futurity

It’s basically a two-horse race at this point unless both Pinkman and WIJI struggle mightily to finish out the year (which is highly unlikely). Should that unrealistic possibility occur, trotting mare Bee A Magician has something going for her in that she faced “the boys” much of the year and held her own, but she would need to win her Crown and the TVG final at the Meadowlands to get into the picture.

The only other horse I give a puncher’s chance to is Wakizashi Hanover. But the cards are stacked against him. He would need to win the Breeders Crown and accept an invite to the TVG and win that race versus older foes to put his hat in the ring. And he too would need a collapse from the top pair.

Pinkman is the only horse that truly is in charge of his own destiny in a HOY battle with WIJI. By winning out he automatically deserves consideration regardless of what WIJI does the rest of the way. And if he was entered in the TVG at the Meadowlands and bested older foes along the way, WIJI would surely be on the outside looking in.

As we sit today, WIJI is mine and likely everyone else’s Horse of the Year. All I’m saying is that the decision to skip the Crown opens the door for Pinkman.

Taking on Cal Expo

Starting this Saturday (opening night), I’ll be providing a pick five ticket on the tracks’ 16-percent takeout wager each racing night. The pick five is a .50 cent base wager that starts in race one. Cal Expo will race Saturdays for the first two weeks before adding Sundays on November 15. As tracks close on the east coast during the winter months, Cal Expo provides a strong signal with solid pools for players. Be sure to tune in on Saturday and beyond for my insights.

Respect for Hoosier Park

I would be remiss if I didn’t write about my recent trip to Hoosier Park at the end of September. The track is a bit different than the norm and well worth a visit. I love the idea of a tele-theater area actually looking at the track instead of hidden away in some remote location on the grounds. Having couches where stadium seating would normally be is also a good idea. I could see hanging out with some friends in that area.

I also want to commend the track for realizing a problem and making an attempt to fix it. The wagering menu was overly saturated and the track cared enough to slim it down. I’m not sure it is perfect, but it was a step in the right direction.

Good to be Pompano Park lately

After a year when Pompano Park saw a 50% increase in handle, things seem to be working out nicely over the first few fall/winter cards. Handle has been strong in the upper $300,000 range per night and with Balmoral no longer racing on Sunday nights, they are almost the only game in town.

Northfield quick on its feet

Northfield Park also deserves credit for seeing a hole in the schedule and dropping Thursday night racing for Sunday night. It will be interesting to see if the track can sustain strong handle figures with a 6:00 p.m. post time considering that is right in the middle of the late afternoon NFL games.

Harness Live has you covered for Breeders Crown

In addition to live video, we’ll have most of the DRF Harness team covering Saturday’s Breeders Crown finals from Woodbine on Harness Live starting at 6:15 p.m. I’ll be live along with Garnet Barnsdale and Jay Bergman to provide real-time insights, instant analysis and results, and much more.

[DRF HARNESS LIVE: Real-time insights & Live Video for Saturday's Breeders Crown Finals at Woodbine--Starts at 6:15 p.m.]