Breeders Crown Battle Lines Drawn in $500,000 Pace
by Ken Weingartner for Breeders Crown
Hypnotic Blue Chip has provided trainer Kevin *** with memorable performances this season while testing himself against the best older pacers in North America. *** hopes the 4-year-old horse give another top effort in next Saturday’s $500,000 Breeders Crown Open Pace at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
With regular driver Jody Jamieson in the sulky, Hypnotic Blue Chip will start from post No. 4 in the Breeders Crown. Shark Gesture, the No. 1-ranked horses in harness racing’s weekly Top 10 poll, drew the rail while Bobby Quillen Memorial winner Foiled Again got post two and stablemate Won The West got five.
“That’s a perfect spot for him,” *** said about Hypnotic Blue Chip’s starting position, which has the best win percentage (15.6 percent) at Pocono Downs this year. “He doesn’t have to leave; he can stalk. That’s probably a good second- or third-over spot from there.”
Hypnotic Blue Chip has won seven of 22 races this year and earned $718,399 for owner Francis Azur, who purchased the horse for $325,000 at the Tattersalls Select Mixed Sale in January.
Among the horse’s wins this year was a world-record 1:47.2 triumph in a $182,500 division of the U.S. Pacing Championship on August 7 at the Meadowlands. He also won the $100,000 Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield Park on July 3 and was second in the $702,500 William R. Haughton Memorial and $748,800 Canadian Pacing Derby.
He was seventh-placed-sixth in the Quillen Memorial at Harrington Raceway on September 20. He finished no worse than second in his previous five starts and earned a check in his previous 13 races.
“The first disappointment all year was Harrington, and that was just the seven hole. It was an impossible spot,” *** said. “He’s just been a real good, real sound horse all year. Like every other horse, it’s the end of the year and I think they all want a break now. But he’s danced just about every dance and he’s held up good.”
Hypnotic Blue Chip is scheduled to race in tonight’s open at Pocono Downs. He will start from post eight in a field of eight. Breeders Crown Open finalist Lisagain also is in the race.
“We’ll just give him a nice trip, let him finish up, and see what happens,” *** said.
Shark Gesture tuned up for the Breeders Crown with a 1:50.3 qualifier at Pocono Downs on September 23. The 7-year-old horse has won seven of 11 races this season, including the Haughton Memorial and $228,000 Bettor’s Delight, and earned $918,875. He went off stride in the $748,800 Canadian Pacing Derby on September 4 at Mohawk Racetrack and finished last, marking the first time he finished worse than second this year.
“He’s in good shape,” trainer Larry Remmen said. “I would have liked to have had a prep race, but this will work out all right. He qualified in hand over there (at Pocono Downs). He’s easy to train and can go whatever you want by himself. He’s not one of those horses that need a race.
“I’m just looking forward to getting straightened away and kicking it into gear and seeing who can catch him.”
Remmen and driver George Brennan, who last Saturday became the 11th driver in history to eclipse $100 million in career purses, were unable to determine why Shark Gesture went off stride in the Canadian Pacing Derby.
“I don’t think he was on the bit like usual and I don’t think George was able to help him,” Remmen said. “Usually, he’s really aggressive and for some reason he was underaggressive that night. Those things happen. But there was nothing we could pinpoint. I’m not going to say it will never happen again, but I don’t expect it to happen again.”
Shark Gesture won the 2006 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male pacers and has won $2.81 million in his career.
Won The West is seeking to join Boulder Creek (2004-05) and Red Bow Tie (1998-99) as the only repeat winners of the Breeders Crown Open Pace. He won last year’s event in a stakes-record 1:47 at the Meadowlands. Won The West has won five of 15 races this year and finished no worse than third in any start while earning $1 million. His triumphs include the Canadian Pacing Derby and the $293,280 Molson Pace.
The 6-year-old gelding is trained by Ron Burke and driven by David Miller. Won The West was the 2009 Dan Patch Award winner for best older male pacer. He has won $3.12 million in his career. He has two wins, three seconds and a third since being scratched from the Ben Franklin Pace final on July 18 because of leg swelling.
Won The West’s last race was a second-place finish to stablemate Foiled Again in the $354,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial on September 20 at Harrington Raceway.
“Ever since the Ben Franklin we’ve had to monitor his races,” Burke said. “I’m glad he didn’t have an elimination. He’s coming into the race good; his last mile was probably his best. We’re very happy with him. Both my boys are coming off sharp efforts.”
Foiled Again has won seven of 19 races this season, including the $460,000 George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series final, and banked $676,510. He is trained by Burke and driven by Yannick Gingras.
“Small-track racing suits him great, and (Won The West) too,” Burke said. “I think it might bring Shark Gesture back to us a little bit more, too. I think we have a good chance depending on the draw of maybe upsetting.”
Following is the Breeders Crown Open Pace draw, with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Shark Gesture, George Brennan, Larry Remmen; 2. Foiled Again, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 3. Bettor Sweet, Brian Sears, Tom Cancelliere; 4. Hypnotic Blue Chip, Jody Jamieson, Kevin ***; 5. Won The West, David Miller, Ron Burke; 6. Lisagain, Andy Miller, Erv Miller; 7. Clear Vision, Ron Pierce, Richard “Nifty” Norman; 8. Blueridge Western, Daniel Dube, Kevin ***.