Monday, February 24, 2014

Bee A Magician in Horse of the Year Romp

To those who say no one is perfect, meet Bee A Magician. The magnificent female trotter capped off a 17-for-17 3-year-old season in fitting style last night as she was named the 2013 Horse of the Year at the annual Dan Patch Awards banquet at Dover Downs. She was, of course, also named Trotter of the Year.

With Bee A Magician running the table in 2013, there wasn't much suspense last night when it was time to rip open the envelope that held the winner of the Horse of the Year title.

But there were several categories that were announced that many thought were to close to call. In one of the most widely anticipated races of the year, Captaintreacherous was named Pacer of the Year over golden oldie Foiled Again.

In the other categories that were not announced until last night, Royalty For Life won the 3-year-old male trotting championship over Spider Blue Chip, He's Watching won the 2-year-old male pacing title and

Anndrovette won the older pacing mare championship for the third straight year.

For much of the year Bee A Magician and Captaintreacherous were locked in a tight battle for the Horse of the Year title. But when Captaintreacherous was unable to beat older horses in the TVG Free-For-All Pace on the same night that Bee A Magician took the Moni Maker to end her year with a perfect record it was apparent that the filly was going to win the coveted title.

"I actually thought we were the underdog until that last start of the year when we won that night and he didn't," trainer Nifty Norman said. "That probably caused a swing. But you never know. I was confident but I am glad it is over. I am very happy for the owners. They deserved this."

Written by Bill Finley of Harness Racing Update

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Show Pool Bandits Hit Freehold

The show pool bandits, players who appear to be manipulating the show pools at small tracks, may have made a big score Thursday at Freehold.

It is believed that the bettors make a large show bet on a hopeless longshot in the pari-mutuel pools in order to drive up the show payoffs on logical contenders.

They then make show bets on the top choices with offshore bookmakers who do not put the bets into the track pools. Several show bets along these lines were made recently at Pompano Park.

In the 11th and final race on yesterday’s card, $2,000 was wagered to show on Messie Hanover, the longest shot in the field at 21-1 and a horse burdened by the eight post. There was only $2,904 in the entire pool.

Driven by Joe (Irish) Hanney, the mare broke stride and finished last. With Messie Hanover finishing out of the money, the winner, Miss Fineline, paid $25 to win and $22 to show. I Luv It, the second choice at 5-2, finished second, paying $3.80 to place and $6.20 to show.

Written by Bill Finley of Harness Racing Update

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Did Pierce Make the Right Move? Only Time Will Tell

As things stand now, Ron Pierce's move to Yonkers has been everything he could have hoped for and more.

The purses are huge there, considerably bigger than they are at the Meadowlands, and Pierce has been a dominant force at Yonkers from the second he announced his intention to be a Friday-Saturday regular there. He came into last night's card at Yonkers with 14 wins from 44 drives.

On most nights, there's simply more money to be made at Yonkers than there is at the Meadowlands.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that Pierce made the right decision.

Pierce has come right out and said that it's all about the money, but the real money to be made in harness racing is not at Yonkers and not at the Meadowlands, but anywhere where there is a Grand Circuit race going on.

If Pierce remains a factor on the Grand Circuit scene then the move to Yonkers will have been a wise one. If he does not then the move to Yonkers will actually cost him.

The reason that so many top drivers still slug it out night after night at the Meadowlands racing for purses that don't stack up to those at the top slots tracks is because they benefit from a prestige factor that exists at the Big M and nowhere else. Fair or not, owners and trainers still view the Meadowlands as some place special, and they choose the top names from there when choosing drivers for their Grand Circuit horses.

That's a big reason why Tim Tetrick and Yannick Gingras remain the two most successful Grand Circuit drivers in the sport–not only are they good, they are good at the Meadowlands.

That's why young up-and-comer Scott Zeron chose the Meadowlands and not Yonkers when making the move from Canada. The flip side is Jason Bartlett. He's an outstanding driver and wins a ton of races at Yonkers.

But come Grand Circuit time he becomes all but invisible. Bartlett was ninth in North American in earnings in 2013, good but not Tetrick or Gingras good.

Written by Bill Finley of Harness Racing Update

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