By JAY BERGMAN for Breeders Crown
He got the sport’s attention as a 44-1 outsider in the Champlain this year, but Captive Audience has easy to overlook in the days leading up to the $600,000 Breeders Crown juvenile colt pace. Most of the headlines have been reserved for the Metro and Wilson winner Captaintreacherous.
“I think if we can get on his back we can go with him,” said Captive Audience’s trainer Corey Johnson about his promising two-year-old colt pacer.
“We changed his shoes this week going from steel up front to aluminum,” said Johnson. “I trained him this morning (Wednesday) at Mohawk and he handled it well.”
Johnson has also added earplugs to the list of equipment the Art Major colt will wear in the big dance.
The trainer thought Captive Audience raced well in his elimination heat finishing third behind Wake Up Peter but didn’t think the uncovered trip was his strongest suit. “I’m not sure he raced that great in the elimination,” said Johnson, “He’d never been first up before.”
For most of the season Captive Audience has been raced strictly from off the pace. The team departed from that strategy in the $261,829 Champlain where the colt left strongly for the front and then got covered up on his way to an impressive career fastest 1:50 2/5 victory.
“We tried him on the front end in his race before the Breeders Crown elimination,” Corey said, “I think he was a little green and didn’t know what to do.”
At the same time Captive Audience did display extreme speed on October 8 at Woodbine pacing a :54 1/5 back half in handy fashion.
Captive Audience’s preferred racing style isn’t going to be an asset on Saturday considering the $95,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase of his father (Colin) and partner Mac Nichol, drew post ten.
“The ten hole is a tough spot. I’m not sure how the race will go but I hope Brian (Sears) can work out a third over trip,” said Johnson.
While Captive Audience did defeat Crown competitor Rockin Amadeus and the highly regarded Odds On Equuelus in the Champlain, his best finish to date against Captaintreacherous were a pair of third place finishes in the Nassagaweya and Metro eliminations. In both races he was going forward in the stretch.
“I’m not sure anyone can go with Captaintreacherous,” the trainer said.
Still with so much money riding Johnson is hopeful his horse can get into the race and have a chance to show his speed. “He’s got a :26 second quarter in him,” he said with confidence.
Brian Sears will once again be in the sulky hoping to improve on the third place finishes. Captive Audience has won just twice in nine starts this year with $176,245 in earnings but he could add significantly to that with a good effort in the Crown.
“He’s not that big a colt and we’re hoping he grows up a bit for next year,” said Johnson. “This will be his last start of the year.”
Captive Audience has a solid pedigree being from the top New York-based sire Art Major out of the $316,588 winning mare Captiva Island. She is by Western Hanover out of the 57-time and $1.6 million winning Sanabelle Island. Art Major is a double-Crown winner at age three and four and has sired one champion – Santanna Blue Chip, the 2007 freshman Crown winner.
Iron Horse Photo caretaker Brittany Hare.