Day At The Track

Eliminations opened my eyes 'James Beviglia'

06:11 PM 06 Oct 2010 NZDT
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Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs

When I heard last year that the Breeders Crown was coming to Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in 2010, I expected the harness racing to be the best we've ever had at the track. But I'm not sure I quite anticipated the level of greatness we would be seeing until last Friday's eliminations opened my eyes.

Many of the performances I’m about to describe may indeed be eclipsed by Saturday’s finals. But it’s still necessary to celebrate the record-setting night that we witnessed on Friday by recapping the six, count ‘em, six track records that were set on that amazing night of racing.

Race 1: Right off the bat, we got rolling in a 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings elimination with a stellar performance. Broad Bahn, a colt from the Noel Daley barn, got on the lead and fought off several challenges to the lead despite having to set some blistering fractions on the front end. Driver Jack Moiseyev kept the colt to task and he responded with a win in 1:55:1, breaking a record for his age group that had been set just a week ago by Johnny B Kemp. Alas, the perils of the racing became clear after the fact when an injury showed up that forced Broad Bahn to be scratched from the final. Still, nobody can take away the brilliance that he showed on Friday night.

Race 6: When a horse comes into a new track with a gaudy record, there is some natural skepticism on the part of the locals as to whether this newcomer is legit. See You At Peelers shipped in from New York with a perfect record of 11 wins in 11 starts, and she proved in a hurry that she was no fluke. With Jim Morrill Jr. doing the driving for trainer Jimmy Takter, See You At Peelers answered her critics in the most resounding way possible in the 2-year-old pacing fillies eliminations by sizzling to a front-running win by 3 ½ lengths in 1:51:3. That winning time was a full second better that our previous mark of 1:52:3, which had been on the books for 8 years since it was set by the great Gordon’s Jin Ms in 2002.

Race 7: Next up, it was time for the 2-year-old trotting fillies to take their shot at the record books, in particular a precocious freshman named Sweet Love. Despite the fact that she had been in precious little stakes competition coming into Friday, the filly from the barn of Jim Campbell showed her guts when she lost the lead late but fought back. With David Miller in the bike, Sweet Love recaptured the lead in a thrilling stretch run for a tight victory in 1:56:2. That matched the track record for her age group, which was set by Undercover Lover in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championships back in 2006.

Race 9: Proving that records are made to be broken, sometimes in quicker fashion than others, Dejarmbro, a 2-year-old colt trained by Jessica Okusko who had been beating everyone in his path in New York, quickly took aim at the mark that Broad Bahn had set in Race 1 for the freshman trotters. Driver Jeff Gregory sent the colt to the front of the pack early despite having the far outside post, and, once he got there, Dejarmbro was not about to let anybody by. He rolled to a 3 ¼ length win in a time of 1:55. Not only did that reset the track mark that had been established just a few hours earlier, but it also matched the world record for the fastest mile ever trotted on a 5/8-mile oval by a 2-year-old.

Race 12: With the evening getting later, it seemed like we had already enjoyed an embarrassment of racing riches and couldn’t possibly expect any more. But Fashion Delight, another young star courtesy of trainer Jim Campbell, absolutely lit it up in the 2-year-old colts and geldings pacing division. Once again David Miller did the driving, as he led Fashion Delight to a thrilling win over Big Bad John, who fought hard on the outside. That duel created a fiery winning time of 1:51:3, causing another long-standing track record to fall. The previous mark of 1:52 was set by Pro Bono Best in 2000 and matched two years later by Whatanartist. But this new mark was destined to be short lived, because…

Race 13: In the final elimination of the night, driver Morrill and 2-year-old pacing colt Shadyshark Hanover saved the most thrilling finish of the evening for last. It seemed for much of the race like frontrunning Big Jim had things in the bag, but Shadyshark Hanover, trained by Erv Miller, began a furious stretch run after sitting way back in the pack most of the way. Moving like a freight train on the outside, he soared by for the win in a ridiculous time of 1:51, knocking Fashion Delight right out of the record books. It was the only fitting way to end what had been an evening that few of us who witnessed it will ever forget.

And that, of course, was only a prelude to the finals at MSPD on Saturday night. Even so, it will be a tough act to follow.

That’s it for this week, but I’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.

James BEVIGLIA

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