Myron Bell will have his eyes on Captaintreacherous when the sport's top-rated pacer headlines Saturday's card at The Red Mile in Lexington, but "The Captain" will share Bell's attention with several youngsters looking to make names for themselves in Bluegrass Stakes action.
That's My Opinion, Fort Knox and Journeyman will be among the horses competing in Saturday's four Bluegrass divisions for 2-year-old male pacers.
That's My Opinion and Fort Knox are co-owned by Brittany Farms, for which Bell is the racing manager, while Journeyman is owned by Brittany Farms and Bell's Riverview Racing.
Bell and Brittany Farms also are among the owners of Captaintreacherous, who is the 3-5 morning line favorite in the first of two Bluegrass divisions for 3-year-old male pacers.
All of the horses are trained by .
Captaintreacherous, the defending Pacer of the Year, has won eight of nine races and $1.45 million this season. His wins include the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Cane Pace and Hempt Memorial. He finished second by a nose to Sunshine Beach in the Battle of the Brandywine.
He is the No. 2-ranked horse in the sport's Top 10 poll, behind only trotter Bee A Magician.
"I wasn't that smart - I never thought he would go almost undefeated," Bell said. "He's exceeded all of our wildest expectations. We knew that he was a top horse, but the Captain has been super in every one of his races this year, even in his narrow defeat. You can't say anything bad about him."
Still, Captaintreacherous has had his critics this season; some lamenting his connection's decision to skip the Little Brown Jug, others pointing to his lack of total domination (three wins by a neck).
"(Heart) is what makes greatness," Bell said. "Speed is one facet of greatness, and he's got the will to win. People are always going to knock something that's good. I really don't worry about that. If they don't talk about you, you don't exist."
For his career, the son of -Worldly Treasure has won 16 of 19 starts, never been off the board, and earned $2.37 million. He was purchased as a yearling for $250,000 at the 2011 Lexington Selected Sale.
That is a big price, but not as hefty as the $350,000 paid for That's My Opinion, who was purchased under the name Blister Hanover at last year's Standardbred Horse Sale. A son of -Boldnbrash Hanover, That's My Opinion has won one of four races and earned $13,029.
He is coming off a second-place finish in a condition race at Mohawk, where he missed by a head after battling through traffic in the stretch. The Bluegrass will be his first try in stakes company and he drew into a division including New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Western Vintage, world-record-setter On Golden and stakes-placed Some Major Beach.
That's My Opinion and driver will start from post seven in the seven-horse field.
"He was a beautiful yearling and he was very costly," Bell said. "Tony has done a phenomenal job with him. He went through a growth spurt and Tony did a very good job. I want to give and (driver) , who baby raced him, a lot of credit too. We babied him to a certain degree and he's ready to rock and roll now.
"He's in a tough division and drew a tough post, but I believe we'll make a good account of ourselves. Right now he's a nothing because he hasn't won on the Grand Circuit yet. I don't want to brag him up, but I think he's a really nice colt."
As for the colt's name change, it came indirectly from Bell himself.
"I have a favorite saying, 'That's my opinion,' and Tony wanted to dedicate that name to this horse for some reason, so we went along with it," Bell said. "It's a fun conversation piece."
Fort Knox has won one of three races and was second in a division of the Champlain Stakes. Bred by Brittany Farms and Melvin Hartman, he is a son of -The Art Museum and a three-quarter-brother to Acquavella.
"He's a very nice horse," Bell said. "I bought the mare for Brittany for a lot of money; she never got to the races and her first two foals have been very good. Acquavella just had a career-ending injury, but she was meant to be a good filly. He raced very well when he came first over in (the Champlain)."
Journeyman, also bred by Brittany Farms, has won once in five starts. He is a son of -Cosmic Journey.
"He's been a little disappointing so far, but he's got high speed," Bell said. "He had a foot problem earlier in the year; he's sound now and I expect a decent effort. I think he'll be OK this year."
In addition to the colts, Bell will be watching Authorize, who is in the Bluegrass for 3-year-old filly pacers. She has won one of 13 races this year after winning the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship in 2012.
Authorize is a daughter of -CPA and her granddam is Delinquent Account, who is also the mother of millionaire .
"She's only won one race this year, so I guess she's a bit of an underachiever, but I think she's going to be very good at The Red Mile," Bell said. "She had some issues and right now she's as sound as she could be. She'll race through the year and then she'll become a broodmare for next year; she has a great pedigree.
"I hope she can finish up well. She's a trip horse. She can't leave the gate, so everything is predicated on the trip. But she can really close pretty good."
That's My Opinion is not the only big-money yearling racing Saturday at The Red Mile. Rockstar Stride, who is in a late closer for 2-year-old male pacers, was purchased for $300,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale under the name Rock The Casbah and is owned by Emilio and Maria Rosati. Trained by , Rockstar Stride is winless in two starts and heads to The Red Mile off a second-place finish by a neck in a conditioned race at Yonkers.
Rockstar Stride is a son of -Stienam's Place and a full brother to $2 million-earner Put On A Show, the fastest female pacer in harness racing history.
Sweet Talkin Clyde, another 2-year-old male pacer, also will be in late closer action. He was purchased for $325,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale by brothers John and . A son of -Sweet Future, he is a half-brother to stakes-winners Bettor Sweet and Sweet Lou. He has one win in four starts this year.
by Ken Weingartner, for HRC