For only the second time in history and first time in Canada, all 12 harness racing 'Breeders Crown championship finals', offering over $6 million in purses, will be staged at Woodbine Racetrack on Saturday evening.
The finest two-year-olds, three-year-olds and older pacers and trotters in North America and beyond will hold the spotlight in harness racing’s year-end extravaganza. The Score will televise a special three and three-quarter hour presentation across Canada, from 7:30 pm – 11:15 pm ET, and will provide live coverage for nine of the 12 Crown finals. The Score broadcast will also be carried live in the U.S. on MAVTV, available in the U.S. on DISH Network (channel 361) and all major cable systems.
The Breeders Crown concept was unveiled on October 5, 1984 at The Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky, with a Two-Year-Old Colt Trot, while a number of other tracks, including Mohawk, each staged one of the divisional races that year as well.
Over the years, not only have the number of Crown finals increased, but they’ve also been concentrated at specific tracks, such as the Meadowlands and Woodbine, which last hosted eight Crown races for two and three-year-olds in 2009. However, last year at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, marked the first time all 12 Crown races were held on one evening at one venue. Now, Woodbine will become the second such track to host all of the championships.
George Wilson, safety for the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League, was the special guest when post positions for two Crown finals, the Three-Year-Old Colt Pace and Open Trot, were drawn Tuesday at WEGZ Stadium Bar. Post positions for the other Crown finals had already been determined.
Last Friday and Saturday, eliminations were held for many of the finals, with the winners earning their connections the right to choose post positions before the balance of the fields were drawn.
The $600,000 Open Trot at 9:00 pm features Ontario-owned and bred champion San Pail, the 2-1 morning line favourite, against six rivals, including two intriguing Europeans, Commander Crowe and Rapide Lebel.
San Pail (PP2, 2-1), co-owned by his breeder, Glenn Van Camp of Port Perry, Ontario and his trainer, Rod Hughes of Dunsford, Ontario, has won 13 of 15 outings this year, including the Maple Leaf Trot, July 23 at Mohawk, while banking $965,250, Last year, he also won 13 of 15 starts and $656,500. The seven-year-old gelded son of, who will be driven as usual by Randy Waples, has amassed over $2.6 million in career earnings.
French-bred Rapide Lebel (PP5, 5-2), a son of Ginger Somoli, has won 10 of 13 starts this year and $987,674. The six-year-old earned his Crown berth by winning the Aby Stora Pris in Molndal, Sweden in straight heats for trainer Sebastien Guarato and driver Eric Raffin.
Swedish-bred Commander Crowe (PP3, 9-2), a career winner of 43 in 66 starts, trotted the fastest mile in European history in August, a 1:50.4 clocking, while taking the Prix du Conseil Generale des Alpes at Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France. The eight-year-oldgelding will be driven by Christophe Martens for trainer Fabrice Souloy.
Arch Madness (PP4, 7-1), to be driven by Brian Sears for trainer Trond Smedshammer, has banked over $3.2 million in his illustrious career, highlighted by a Crown win as a three-year-old in 2007, the 2008 Maple Leaf Trot and this year’s Oslo Grand Prix in Norway. The seven-year-old gelding, a son of, is the second leading money-winning trotter in history by an Ontario sire, behind only Peaceful Way, a daughter of .
Completing the field are Define The World (PP1, Paul MacDonell, 15-1), Hot Shot Blue Chip (PP6, John Campbell, 15-1) and Lucky Jim (PP7, Tim Tetrick, 4-1), winner of the 2009 Breeders Crown Open Trot.
The $500,000 Three-Year-Old Colt Pace at 10:40 pm includes elim winners Betterthancheddar (PP4, George Brennan, 5-1) and Westwardho Hanover (PP2, Dave Palone, 5-1). Betterthancheddar sprung a 6-1 upset in his elim for trainer Casie Coleman, drawing off to a three-quarter length win over Hugadragon in a career best 1:49.1.
Westwardho Hanover, trained by Ron Burke, was almost 6-1 in his elim as well, staving off a closing Alsace Hanover and favouredby a head in 1:49.4.
Big Bad John (PP9, Dave Miller, 6-1), winner of the Little Brown Jug in September at Delaware, was a distant third as the odds-on choice to Betterthancheddar in his elim, five lengths in arrears, for trainer Ron Potter.
(PP7, Jody Jamieson, 15-1) won the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup in June at Mohawk, while (PP6, Ron Pierce, 3-1) took the $1 million Meadowlands Pace in July at the Meadowlands, was third to Westwardho Hanover in his elim, three-quarters of a length behind, and is the early 3-1 favourite.
Completing the field are second choice Alsace Hanover (PP5, Scott Zeron, 7-2), who just missed in his elim, falling a head short of Westwardho Hanover in his elim but in July won the Adios Pace at The Meadows in a world record 1:48.3 (for a 5/8th mile track), Fashion Delight (PP8, Tim Tetrick, 20-1), Hugadragon (PP3, Yannick Gingras, 9-2), Mystician (PP10, Brian Sears, 12-1) and Odysseus Bluechip (PP1, Mario Baillargeon, 30-1).
“Breeders Crown is the build-up to the end of the year,” said 22-year-old driver Scott Zeron. “It’s something everyone dreams of. I think my best chance is the one they tabbed the ‘glamour boys’, the three-year-old Colt Pace (with Alsace Hanover).”
The Crown evening gets underway with a special first race post time of 6:30 pm with the $300,000 Open Mare Trot. The wide-open tilt, which did not have elims, Action Broadway (PP6, Mark MacDonald, 7-2), Frenchfrysnvinegar (PP10, Jody Jamieson, 7-2), Autumn Escapade (PP9, Dave Miller, 9-2) and Jersey As (PP8, George Brennan, 5-1).
Next up is the $600,000 Two-Year-Old Filly Trot at 6:55 pm, featuring elim winner Check Me Out (PP4, Tim Tetrick, 4-5), along with Peaceful Way winner Win Missy B (PP5, Brian Sears, 6-5) and Circles (PP2, Jacques Hebert, 20-1), who opted to receive byes to the final.
The $600,000 Two-Year-Old Filly Pace at 7:20 pm, did not require elims either, but is headed by Economy Terror (PP5, Brian Sears, 6-5), Big McDeal (PP7, Jody Jamieson, 7-2), Pirouette Hanover (PP3, Ron Pierce, 10-1) and Handsoffmycookie (PP2, Tim Tetrick, 15-1), a winner in eight of nine starts this year.
At 7:45 pm, the $650,000 Two-Year-Old Colt Pace, the richest race of the evening, will feature elim winners A Rocknroll Dance (PP4, Yannick Gingras, 8-5), who was timed in 1:51 and Sweet Lou (PP3, Dave Palone, 5-2), who went in 1:50.
The $600,000 Two-Year-Old Colt Trot at 8:10 pm has elim winners Possess The Will (PP4, Tim Tetrick, 2-1), a winner of five in nine outings, who was clocked in 1:56.1, but owns a life mark and race best of 1:54, when scoring at The Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky on October 7 and Uncle Peter (PP3, Jimmy Takter, 7-2), who won his third race last Friday in only five starts in 1:57.
The $300,000 Open Mare Pace at 8:35 pm has elim winner Anndrovette (PP5, Tim Tetrick, 7-5), who scored by two and one-half lengths last Saturday, her 10th win in 18 starts this year. It also has Ticket To Rock (PP7, Ron Pierce, 6-1) and Laughandbehappy (PP10, Jody Jamieson, 4-1), who both accepted byes to the final.
Drop The Ball (PP2, Yannick Gingras, 5-2), who set a track and Canadian record of 1:49 in winning her elim last Saturday, heads the $500,000 Three-Year-Old Filly Pace at 9:25 pm. Trained by Tony O’Sullivan, the daughter ofis an eight-time winner in 19 career outings. Rocklamation (PP3, Brian Sears, 3-1) won her elim in 1:50.4, upsetting Krispy Apple and favoured See You At Peelers.
The $610,000 Three-Year-Old Colt Trot at 9:50 pm includes elim winners(PP4, Tim Tetrick, 8-5) and (P5, Dave Miller, 9-5), along with Canadian Trotting Classic winner (PP8, Jack Moiseyev, 9-2) and Hambletonian champion (PP7, George Brennan, 7-1). All but are millionaires, in addition to another starter (PP10, Brian Sears).
Elim winners Cedar Dove (PP4, Ron Pierce, 2-1) and Iron Lady (PP2, Randy Waples, 7-2) top the $500,000 Three-Year-Old Filly Trot at 10:15 pm. Cedar Dove set a track record of 1:53.2 last Saturday, while Iron Lady went in 1:55.4, her seventh win in 15 starts this year.
The Crown finale will be the $500,000 Open Pace at 11:05 pm, featuring Canadian Pacing Derby winner We Will See (PP1, Ron Pierce, 2-1), Foiled Again (PP2, Yannick Gingras, 5-2) and Dial Or Nodial (PP7, Dave Miller, 5-1).
Since 1984, John Campbell leads all drivers with 44 wins and over $19.9 million in Breeders Crown purse earnings. Jimmy Takter leads all trainers with $6 million in purses, including 11 wins, while Kentucky’s Brittany Farms is the leading owner with $6.4 million in purses, while winning 15 races. Pennsylvania’s Hanover Shoe Farms tops all breeders, with 20 wins and over $12.9 million in purses.
Among the marketing activities set for Breeders Crown night, one fan will win a 2011 Dodge Ram.