By John Furgele
The 2020 Breeders Crown, contested for the 37th time, left some lasting memories.
In two days, we saw 12 championship races and those that were locked in saw a little bit of everything. It was a tough day for favorites, but that’s how it should be. When the best of the best come together to compete for six-figure championship race purses, things should be a bit unpredictable.
The 2-year-olds had the stage on Friday night, with the highlight being a dead heat in the Colt and Gelding Pace as Perfect Sting and Summa Cum Laude could not be separated and because of that both are Breeders Crown champions.
It was a classic race. Perfect Sting blasted away, took the lead while Summa Cum Laude hung out in the back, going from fourth to sixth and then making his move with a frenzied run down the stretch. He caught Perfect Sting with a 26.3 final stanza, but didn’t pass him and the two made separate, social distanced visits to the winner’s circle.
Sting is sired by Always B Miki; Summa by Somebeachsomewhere and nobody should be surprised if the offspring of these two will continue to battle for years to come.
Let’s recap the other races:
2-year old filly trot
The winner: Lady Chaos
The takeaway: Nice win for Hall of Fame trainer Linda Toscano as the filly passed the tiring Iteration in the stretch.
2-year old colt and gelding trot
The winner: On a Streak
The takeaway: The first of many upsets with a $20.80 payout. The race proved that the Canadians, driver Bob McClure and trainer Luc Blais, know how to get their horses ready for the big races.
2-year old filly pace
The winner: Fire Start Hanover
The takeaway: Commanding win for the Nifty Norman trained filly sired by Somebeachsomewhere. The second place finisher, Jks Alwaysbalady is sired by guess who — Always B Miki.
In final summation, the 2-year old crop is very good and it will be fun to watch them mature as they head towards their sophomore seasons in 2021.
On Saturday, the stage was left for the sophomores and veterans and they didn’t disappoint. The 7/8 mile track played fair, but if you could get to the pylons in the stretch, that was a good thing with several winning from that position.
When the night was over, there were more questions than answers and voters will have some difficult decisions to make when it comes the year-end awards.
3-year old filly trot
The winner: Next Level Stuff pulls the upset at 8-1, rallying from fourth at the three-quarter mark to get past Hambletonian Oaks winner Sorella.
The takeaway: Ramona Hill, the best 3-year old filly trotter, was out sick leaving Sorella the chance to narrow the gap. She failed to do so.
3-year old filly pace
The winner: Peaky Sneeky at 7-1, rallied to overtake Party Girl Hill, who came in undefeated in her previous 14 starts.
The takeaway: Party Girl Hill might still be voted Horse of the Year (she would get my vote), and it looked like she had it when she took the lead at the 7/8 pole, but both Lyons Sentinel and Peaky Sneeky got past her. It was earned as the 1:49.0 clocking indicates.
3-year old trot
The winner: Amigo Volo
The takeaway: The harness racing year is a long one. In the first six months, Amigo Volo was a good horse, a nice horse, a horse that couldn’t beat Ramona Hill in the Hambletonian. But, as we often see, horses mature when they’re ready and right now, this is as good a horse as there is and his dominant win in the most revered class in standardbred racing proves it.
Open mare trot
The winner: Manchego
The takeaway: She’s a Hall of Famer, what else is there to say. She pulled away in the stretch with a commanding performance. That’s what Hall of Famers do.
Open mare pace
The winner: Kissin In The Sand
The takeaway: This was a great field. The best three — Kissin In The Sand, Shartin N and Warrawee Ubeaut did their thing and finished 1-2-3. The time was 1:48.4 for a race that lived up to the hype. How good are these three? The exacta paid $5.40 and the trifecta a paltry $3.70.
The winner: Gimpanzee
The takeaway: Gimpanzee is back. He got off to a great start in the spring, looked tired in the summer, but has come back this fall with a vengeance. He beat the super mare Atlanta, who finished third. Atlanta was gaining steam and it looked like she would surge past Gimpanzee, but the Marcus Melander trained 4-year old looked her in the eye, broke her spirit and pulled away impressively.
The winner: Century Farroh
The takeaway: Dismissed at 8-1, the horse ran huge. He was calm, cool and collected and rated so well. Third in the stretch, when it was time to go, he easily brushed past the favorite, Bettor’s Wish, to win going away in 1:49.0.