By Ken Weingartner, for USTA — Noel Daley thinks he has one of the horses capable of winning Friday’s $600,000 Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male pacers at The Meadowlands. He also thinks he is not alone.
Daley-trained Pebble Beach was one of three elimination winners last week, along with Monte Miki and Six Feet Apart. They lead a group of 10 Breeders Crown finalists that have combined to win 51 races and hit the board in 73 of 81 starts.
“I think it’s a very competitive race,” Daley said. “To me, it looks like there are six or seven real legit horses in there. That’s going to be a good race.
“That might help (Pebble Beach) because he’s not going to be the target for anybody. I think he can outsprint all of them, it’s just a matter of the trip. As I said, there is a bunch of horses in there going good.”
Pebble Beach, by Downbytheseaside out of Santa Rosa, has won seven of 10 races and finished no worse than third. He has two second-place finishes, by a neck to Caviart Camden in a world-record 1:48.3 mile, and by a head to Early Action in a division of the Bluegrass Stakes. His victories include the Kentucky Sire Stakes championship and a division of the International Stallion Stakes.
He will start the Breeders Crown from post three with driver Todd McCarthy. He won his elimination by a nose over Gulf Shores in 1:51.3.
“I was happy with him,” said Daley, who trains Pebble Beach for Patricia Stable, Joe Sbrocco, Country Club Acres, and LA Express & JAF Racing. “He goes to them really quickly, but he seems to pull up once he gets to the front and can’t see anybody. Todd said once he got the horses fighting back, he kicked on again.
“We only have one pacing colt, and it’s him, so he’s done a good job for us. He’s got a real good attitude. He’s good to be around, a good-feeling horse. And he’s got the will to do it.”
Monte Miki, trained by Mark Evers, has won five of six races and finished third in his defeat. His victories include the Metro Pace. The son of Always B Miki-Montenegro will start Friday from post two with Scott Zeron driving for owner Velocity Standardbreds. He won his elimination by a half-length over Hammering Hank in 1:50.4.
“When you stand beside him, he’s a gorgeous horse, beautiful stature,” Zeron said. “If anything, he’s a little immature. Mark did a great job changing up his bridle to a can’t-see-back from a closed. When I was on the front with the can’t-see-back, the second he saw someone he fought back. He’s on top of his game. To come and do this (in his elimination) really showed me he is a good horse.”
Six Feet Apart is one of three finalists for trainer Brian Brown, who saw Gulf Shores and Gentle Giant also advance. Six Feet Apart, a son of Sweet Lou-Ideal Love, won his elimination by a half-length over Beach Glass in 1:50.2 with David Miller in the sulky. He will start the final from post four.
The colt has won five of eight races, with one second and one third. His wins include the Kentucky Commonwealth Series final. He is owned by Michael Dean Robinson, Bob Mondillo, David Meola, and Rich Lombardo Racing.
“David started that horse out in Lexington, and he talked us into staying in the (Kentucky Commonwealth Series),” Brown said. “He taught him how to race, never over-raced him. He’s not a big sprinter, but he’s a good-trying horse. The horse never gives up. He’s always finished good every time. I think he’s a nice horse. He’s just coming into his own. He’s come on at the right time.”
Gulf Shores, the Ohio Sire Stakes champion, and Gentle Giant will start the final from posts six and one, respectively. Brown plans to make a bridle change on Gulf Shores, opening it up, following his narrow loss to Pebble Beach.
“I’m happy going in,” Brown said. “We got a good post with all of them. You want to avoid the things that can go wrong; post is the first thing we avoided. We still need trips even though we have posts, but when you have good drivers, they usually take care of that.”
The Breeders Crown final for 2-year-old male pacers is race nine Friday, the last of the card’s four Breeders Crown championships for 2-year-olds. For complete entries click here. Racing begins at 6:20 p.m. (EDT).
Breeders Crown finals for horses ages 3 and up are Saturday at The Meadowlands. Racing gets underway at noon Saturday.
DEEP GROUP OF 2-YEAR-OLD FEMALE PACERS VIE FOR CROWN
The field in Friday’s $600,000 Breeders Crown final for 2-year-old female pacers also is a deep group, with the 10 fillies combining for 51 wins and 74 top-three finishes in 87 races. Queen Of Success won last week’s single elimination by three-quarters of a length in 1:50.3, handing runner-up Niki Hill and third-place Sea Silk their first losses of the season.
Queen Of Success, a daughter of Captaintreacherous out of Cashaway, has won five of eight starts. She was 10th in the She’s A Great Lady Stakes, won by Niki Hill, at Woodbine Mohawk Park but bounced back with a second-place finish to Niki Hill in a division of the International Stallion Stakes in her race prior to the Breeders Crown elimination.
“She hit a few bumps in the road but her last start in Lexington when she was second to Niki Hill showed us that she was coming back to what we thought she was early,” trainer Tony Alagna said. “The only time this filly showed a little chink in her armor was when we took her to Mohawk. She just didn’t get over the track well, just wore herself out and was scrambling. I was a little concerned about the limestone here (in the elimination), but she was super.”
Queen Of Success is owned by Alagna Racing, Caviart Farms, and Robert LeBlanc. She will start the Breeders Crown final from post five with driver Andy McCarthy. She is one of three finalists for Alagna, with bye recipient Dont Fence Me In and Boudoir Hanover.
Dont Fence Me In, who won the Kentucky Championship Series final, has four firsts, four seconds and a third in nine starts. The daughter of Captaintreacherous-Mystery Game will leave from post six on Friday.
“She’s been very good, solid,” Alagna said. “She had a great run in Kentucky, and she was very good qualifying (in 1:52.1 last week). She’s matured a lot over the year, so I think she will have a nice year next year too hopefully. She’s a nice filly.”
Boudoir Hanover, by Captaintreacherous out of Bedroomconfessions, will start from post nine. She has won two of 10 races, including a division of the Bluegrass Stakes, where she beat Lyons Serenity.
“I’m very happy with my group,” Alagna said.
Lyons Serenity, who has won seven of 10 races and finished second twice, also received a bye to the final. She will start from post eight for trainer Jim King Jr., who also sends out Captain Cowgirl in the final. Lyons Serenity counts the Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes among her triumphs. Captain Cowgirl was the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champ.
“I thought the bye would suit (Lyons Serenity) fine,” King said. “She’s a really good trainer; I can train her in racehorse time if I feel the need. I think she will be just as ready by not showing up as she would be if she did show up. And she couldn’t get eliminated this way.
“(Captain Cowgirl) might be playing ball in the wrong park, or just a step above where I would like her to be, but she’s a pretty nice filly. I’m certainly not ashamed of her. Both of mine in there, I don’t feel like they’re winners — I hope they do — but hopefully we can get paid. You can’t win ’em if you’re not in ’em. What better place to be than right here?”
Niki Hill, a five-time winner on the Grand Circuit in seven starts, will look to bounce back from post seven in the Breeders Crown final.
“First of all, they’re all beatable,” the filly’s trainer, Chris Ryder, said. “She’s very good, but they’re all beatable. She got beat. Obviously, we didn’t want to. That wasn’t the idea at all. But she’s a winner. That’s the end of the story. She’s a winner. It’s not over yet.
“I knew she could go fast, and she is nice and solid. I told (owner Tom Hill), I don’t know how fast she’s going to go, but she’s going to go pretty fast. She’s been problem free.”
The Breeders Crown final for 2-year-old female pacers is race seven Friday, the second of the card’s four Breeders Crown championships for 2-year-olds. For complete entries click here. Racing begins at 6:20 p.m. (EDT).