Posted by Ken Warkentin on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 3:32 PM

... And Down The Stretch They Come! 


The 2015 season is in the homestretch with a few major events remaining on the harness racing calendar and some division titles still up for grabs.  While prominent names like Takter, Burke and Gingras have continued to make headlines, it’s also been the Year of the Gelding.  Horse of the Year favorite Wiggle It Jiggleit, Hambletonian winner Pinkman and North America Cup upsetter Wakizashi Hanover have occupied the top three money spots.  In addition to Wiggle It Jiggleit, Breeders Crown champions Freaky Feet Pete, Color’s A Virgin and Always B Miki have thrusted Indiana breeding into the national spotlight.  Standout freshmen like Southwind Frank and the undefeated Pure Country give us a lot to look forward to in 2016.  The inspiring comeback of Always B Miki and the rags to riches story of JL Cruze, yet another gelding, were also among the sport’s highlights in 2015. 


Leading the two year old filly trotters, Broadway Donna was an undefeated nine-for-nine before she made a break in her Breeders Crown elimination.  Caprice Hill romped in the Peaceful Way, won seven of ten and finished third from post ten in the Breeders Crown Final.  That is where Jimmy Takter finished one-two in the first of four Crown events with All The Time and Haughty.  Takter posted the first ever $2 million day by a trainer with a record six Breeders Crowns. 


Ron Burke’s 2015 Hambletonian dream ended with a gallant second with the filly Mission Brief.  Team Burke is dreaming again with another world champion freshman in Southwind Frank.  Currently, Jimmy Takter’s 2016 Hambletonian prospects include Lagerfeld, Love Matters and Bar Hopping.  Breeders Crown runner up Marion Marauder and Grand Circuit winner Milligans School will certainly need to step up to match strides with the outstanding Southwind Frank. 


The two-year-old filly pacers featured an undefeated Pure Country, who made it a perfect ten in the Breeders Crown for Jimmy Takter.  Canadian sensation and She’s a Great Lady winner LA Delight was not a Crown eligible.  Following her 2014 Horse of the Year season with JK She’salady, Nancy Johansson campaigned another top freshman pacing filly in Darlinonthebeach.  Ron Burke sent out a strong pair in Yankee Moonshine and Lyons River Pride.  Breeders Crown runner up Shezarealdeal is also one to watch for. 


Metro winner Control The Moment won all eight starts before finishing sixth in the Breeders Crown for freshman pacers won by Boston Red Rocks.  Ron Burke finished second and fifth with Big Top Hanover and Pretty Boy Hill.  David Menary is looking for another He’s Watching with third place finisher Investment Bluechip.  Casie Coleman’s Betting Line was not far off finishing fourth.  Tony Alagna has a sharp Grand Circuit winning duo in Racing Hill and American Passport.  NYSS champion and late-season purchase Travel Playlist belongs in the mix. 


A late season surge and Breeders Crown victory may have sealed the division title for Divine Caroline.  She is part of a strong one-two punch from Joe Holloway, who also has Bettor Be Steppin.  Jugette winner Sassa Hanover was second in the Crown Final from post ten for Ron Burke, giving New Jersey-bound sire Rock N Roll Heaven a one-two finish.  Bedroomconfessions, Solar Sister, Stacia Hanover and Wicked Little Minx are also in the three-year-old filly pace conversation. 


Wiggle It Jiggleit not only dominated the glamor boy division in 2015, he looks to give George Teague, Jr. his second Horse of the Year.  The gutsy gelding posted dramatic wins in the Meadowlands Pace and the Battle of Brandywine, and stunned the sport with a Little Brown Jug for the ages.  Indiana standout Freaky Feet Pete upset Wiggle It Jiggleit in the Indiana Sires Stakes Super Final before a decisive Breeders Crown victory over Artspeak, Lost For Words, Wakizashi Hanover and Dealt A Winner. 


With rare exception, Horse of the Year candidate Pinkman was a machine among the three-year-old trotters, winning the Hambletonian with back-to-back world records for Team Takter.  The gelding by Explosive Matter also won the NJSS Final, Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial, a Stanley Dancer Memorial division, Zweig, Canadian Trotting Classic and Kentucky Futurity.  His stablemates The Bank, who upset him in the Breeders Crown, Uncle Lasse, French Laundry and Canepa Hanover ensured Takter a lock on this category in 2015. 


The three-year-old filly trotters division in 2015 has come down to the outstanding duo of Wild Honey and Mission Brief.  With world champion Mission Brief taking her chances against the boys in the Hambletonian, Wild Honey won the Oaks, and she upset Mission Brief in the Kentucky Fill Futurity and Breeders Crown.  Meanwhile, Mission Brief beat Wild Honey in the Zweig and Elegantimage, and unfortunately broke on the lead in the Breeders Crown.  This one looks to go down to the wire. 


2013 Horse of the Year Bee A Magician has come back with a million dollar season at age five, beating the boys in the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial, Charlie Hill Memorial Trot, Maple Leaf Trot and Centaur Trotting Classic.  European invader and Breeders Crown winner D One beat Bee A Magician twice in the Fresh Yankee and Muscle Hill. 


Trainer Eric Ell turned a $37,000 Harrisburg purchase into a world champion trotter in J L Cruze.  The four-year-old gelding by Crazed rang up 16 wins in 21 starts and $627,456 in 2015.  With John Campbell driving he capped a Graduate Series sweep with the fastest trotting mile in Meadowlands history – 1:49.4, and came right back with another world record of 2:04.2 in the mile and one eighth Hambletonian Maturity.  Vincennes winner Resolve was very consistent, and Creatine returned from Europe to win the Breeders Crown and finish third in the Yonkers International. 


The older mares pacing division is likely the most wide open, and quite evident by the wild finish in the Breeders Crown.  Colors A Virgin nosed out Sandbetweenurtoes, giving trainer Brian Brown his first Crown trophy.  Milton Stakes and Artiscape winner Venus Delight finished third.  Roses Are Red winner and Milton runner up Lady Shadow was fourth.  The great Anndrovette, looking for an unprecedented fifth straight Dan Patch Award, was scratched after posting upset wins in the Golden Girls and Lady Liberty this season. 


The major damage in the Open Pace category was done by State Treasurer, with wins in the Molson Pace, Mohawk Gold Cup, US Pacing Championship, Roll With Joe, Canadian Pacing Derby and Dayton Derby.  The six-year-old by Real Desire set a world record of 1:47 at The Meadowlands for Dr. Ian Moore, and finished second in the William Haughton Memorial.  The division saw some late season heroics from the comeback kid, Always B Miki, who returned from injury to go three-for-three for Jimmy Takter.  The four-year-old by Indiana sire Always A Virgin gave Takter a record sixth Breeders Crown and Dave Miller his own record fifth on the card.  His stablemate and runner up JK Endofanera sports a pair of major wins this season in the Dan Patch and Allerage Farms.   


Ron Burke will lead the sport in wins and money earnings for the eighth straight season in 2015, and his stable flew past the $20 million mark for the third year in a row. 


Jimmy Takter looks for his second straight Trainer of the Year title and fifth overall.  Team Takter may have sealed it by sending out a record six Breeders Crown winners. 


2014 Driver of the Year Yannick Gingras passed the $11 million mark for the sixth straight season. 


After a record five Breeders Crowns on one night, Dave Miller was on the verge of becoming only the third driver in history to hit $200 million. 




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