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Who Are The Champion Pacers of 2011?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011  By: Dean Hoffman
ont-weight: bold;">Columbus, OH --- In my previous column, I looked at what I thought were some of the top contenders for trotting honors in the year-end voting to be concluded soon. Now it’s time to look at the pacers.

The pacers that impressed me most this past season were juveniles, so that bodes well for an exciting series of slugfests in the sophomore classics in 2012. Of course, we know all too well how the stars of one season can fizzle the next year.

The best thing about this year’s 3-year-old pacing male jackpots is that each and every one was up for grabs. Before many of the major races, you could make a legitimate case for about half the field winning the race. And then the winner came from the other half of the field. That makes for great anticipation and excitement. As much as we all love seeing a great horse in action, a race isn’t really a race if one horse is so intimidating that the others take tucks and race for minor checks.

One race that was virtually conceded before the start was the Messenger. Roll With Joe was bet down to five cents on the dollar and dominated five foes. That’s a great way to add $200,000 to the bankroll, but it wasn’t much of a race.

I received very limited feedback from my previous column on trotters. One writer said that Check Me Out deserved consideration for Horse of the Year, but I’ll let the voters decide that. A freshman trotting filly hasn’t won that honor in more than six decades.

Another reader said that he was initially tempted to support Crys Dream as the top sophomore trotting filly, but then remembered her positive test in Ontario and he considered that a deal-breaker. The best overall, he felt, was Bold And Fresh.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the pacers.

2-Year-Old Males

The clear leader in earnings is A Rocknroll Dance, a juggernaut in the juvenile ranks this season, winning seven of his 11 starts with three seconds. That’s impressive. He concluded his season by easily winning the Governor’s Cup to go with runner-up finishes in the Breeders Crown and Metro Pace. He took his 1:49.1 mark at Mohawk and later won in 1:49.4 at The Red Mile.

Sweet Lou was impressive in winning the Breeders Crown as he made a bold move at the half and left his rivals in the dust. He lost only twice in a dozen races, narrow losses to Easy Again at Pocono and to Bolt The Duer at Lexington. He is ranked in sixth place in the Top 10 poll.

This is a title that may be decided by the money difference: In 11 starts, A Rocknroll Dance banked $863,325 while Sweet Lou raced 12 times with $686,647 in earnings.

2-Year-Old Pacing Females

I was dazzled by American Jewel when I saw her this season, but I suspect the trophy in this class will go to Breeders Crown winner Economy Terror. Her bankroll of $926,520 dwarfs that of American Jewel, who earned $677,116. Economy Terror won eight times in 11 starts and was second three times. Two of her losses were second-place finishes to American Jewel in the She’s A Great Lady elim and final.

Economy Terror is in seventh place in the Top 10 Poll and American Jewel is in tenth place.

3-Year-Old Pacing Males

This division was so evenly-matched that it had almost a different winner every week. Yet the name that was consistently at the top was Meadowlands Pace champ Roll With Joe. He’s also won a half-million dollars more than any of his rivals and that alone ought to be sufficient to sew up the title for him. He was on the board in 12 of his 14 trips to the gate against the best and that also speaks well for the colt and trainer Ed Hart. He’s the top-ranked pacer in the sport on the Top 10 poll behind the trotters San Pail and Check Me Out.

3-Year-Old Pacing Females

Despite the late summer setbacks suffered by See You At Peelers, she was still the richest filly in her division. She won nine of her dozen starts and earned $916,611 and her time of 1:49.2 was just a few ticks behind class leader Strike An Attitude’s 1:48.4. I think trainer Jimmy Takter will add another champion to his resume.

The Breeders Crown winner Monkey On My Wheel had a good year without leaving Ontario and should get some support.

Older Pacing Male

This vote should be a slugfest between Foiled Again who banked $1,405,747 in 28 trips to the post while We Will See earned $1,242,745 in 23 starts. Both of them basically won half their starts -- 14 of 28 for Foiled Again and 11 of 23 for We Will See.

The edge in time goes to We Will See who notched a 1:47.2 mile at the Meadowlands while Foiled Again clocked 1:48.1 at Mohawk.

Foiled Again ranks fourth on the Top 10 poll while We Will See is right behind him in fifth place.

Older Pacing Females

This is likely a battle between Anndrovette and Dreamfair Eternal. They had identical winning times of 1:49.2 while the former had the edge in earnings by about $80,000. Neither mare was ranked among the leaders in the Harness Racing Top 10 Poll. It’s difficult to speculate what impact the recent 105-day suspension of Anndrovette’s trainer Mark Kesmodel will have on the voting.

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