By KEN WEINGARTNER — Luc Blais was pleased when Forbidden Trade received a bye to advance directly to Saturday’s $500,000 Breeders Crown final for 3-year-old male trotters at Woodbine Mohawk Park. After the Hambletonian winning colt drew post eight, he was less enthused.
“I was happy when they asked about the bye,” Blais said. “After the draw, I said oops. But it’s part of the game. A race is a race. All the time you need luck.”
Twelve horses entered the 3-year-old colt-and-gelding trot, which resulted in Forbidden Trade and Greenshoe receiving byes while the remaining 10 horses competed for the eight remaining spots in the final.
Don’t Let’em won the elimination with a Canadian-record-equaling 1:51.3 performance. His reward as an elim winner was being guaranteed a post in positions one through five. He will start Saturday from post two.
Greenshoe, the winner of 10 of 12 races and C$1.16 million this season, will start from post four. He is one of three finalists for trainer Marcus Melander, with returning Breeders Crown champion Gimpanzee and Green Manalishi S.
Forbidden Trade defeated Greenshoe by a neck in the Hambletonian. Since then, Greenshoe has won five in a row, including the Kentucky Futurity on Oct. 6 at Lexington’s Red Mile.
The colt’s 1:49.4 triumph in a division of the Bluegrass Stakes on Sept. 29 at Red Mile is the fastest mile of the season for a 3-year-old trotter and the fourth sub-1:50 winning mile by a 3-year-old in history.
“He’s doing great,” Melander said about Greenshoe, a son of Father Patrick-Designed To Be. “I was happy to take the bye. He’s been on the road for a long time, so it was nice for him to be at home. I’m very happy with how he feels. I’m confident going into the race, he feels as good as he can. I think he’ll be good.”
Green Manalishi S and Gimpanzee finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Crown elimination. Green Manalishi S (Muscle Hill-Naga Morich S) has two wins at Mohawk this year, in the Canadian Trotting Classic and Simcoe Stakes.
Gimpanzee (Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows) was last year’s Dan Patch Award winner and counts the Yonkers Trot and New York Sire Stakes championship among his 2019 victories.
“There are good horses there,” Melander said. “It’s going to be a tough race to win, but I’m happy with my three horses. We drew good; I’m confident going into the race. It will be exciting.”
Forbidden Trade has won eight of 13 races and C$1.07 million. In his most recent start, he won his second Ontario Sire Stakes championship. The son of Kadabra-Pure Ivory was the 2018 O’Brien Award winner.
“It’s going to be a tough race,” Blais said. “He feels good. He raced good in the Ontario final and he’s in good shape right now. I hope everything goes well in the race.”
The fun-loving Don’t Let’em was once described as “a class clown” by trainer Nancy Johansson but he got an ‘A’ for his elimination performance. The colt, a son of Muscle Hill-Passageway, has finished first or second 12 times in his career. He’s gone off stride in his remaining nine races.
“His mind is his own worst enemy,” driver Yannick Gingras said. “A couple times in the middle of the summer he’d wheel around in the post parade for no reason, but he’s doing none of that stuff now. It seems like he’s got his mind on his business.”
Chin Chin Hall finished second to Don’t Let’em in the elimination. The colt, by Cash Hall out of Canland Hall, had hit the board in seven consecutive starts before an eighth-place finish in the Kentucky Futurity. But that race over a ‘good’ track on a rain-filled afternoon did nothing to dampen trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman’s good feelings.
“I don’t even count that race; you have to throw it out,” Norman said. “I was really happy with his run (in the Crown elimination); why wouldn’t you be. He’s been good every start the last couple of months.
“He actually feels like he’s getting better and better. I think he drew pretty good (post five). It’s a tough group, it’ll be hard enough to just get a check, but I think he’s good enough to be top five.”
Breeders Crown finals for 3-year-olds and older horses are Saturday at Mohawk. The finals for 2-year-olds are Friday. Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT) both nights. The Libfeld-Katz Breeding Partnership is the corporate sponsor of this year’s Breeders Crown.
Following is the field for the Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male trotters.
1-Green Manalishi S-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander
2-Don’t Let’em-Yannick Gingras-Nancy Johansson
3-Marseille-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt
4-Greenshoe-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander
5-Chin Chin Hall-Peter Wrenn-R. Nifty Norman
6-Gimpanzee-David Miller-Marcus Melander
7-Goes Down Smooth-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke
8-Forbidden Trade-Bob McClure-Luc Blais
9-Soul Strong-Dexter Dunn-Ake Svanstedt
10-Super Schissel-Louis Roy-Per Engblom
—Ken Weingartner for Breeders’ Crown