Here’s a list of Drive On’s personal top 5 with accompanying video. Keep in mind this is a personal list of favorites races or moments, some reflect the absolute epitome of greatness, others (see #3) are just moments that are dear to my heart.
#1 - The Little Brown Jug Final
From a purely jingoistic standpoint, it didn’t get any better for a Canadian than this year’s Jug. Ontario-bred pacer Michael’s Power, trained by first-time winner and Canadian native Casie Coleman and driven by young Canadian superstar Scott Zeron blew the doors off his rivals in the Final using a 25.2 record first quarter to issue a “NO YOU DON’T” statement to Meadowlands Pace winner A Rock N Roll Dance who was intent on getting to the front but had no choice but to take back. From a personal standpoint, Scotty winning the Jug and stamping himself as the youngest ever in his first try validated for good my prediction early in Zeron’s driving career that he would climb to the top of the mountain quickly. I took some heat for that statement on more than one occasion, but, on this day, no one could doubt The Natural, Scotty Z as he coasted to the Delaware wire an easy Jug winner.
#2 North America Cup Final
Hall of Famer Bob McIntosh’s first North American Cup win was a thriller as Thinking Out Loud powered down the middle of the Mohawk stretch to nail prohibitive favorite Sweet Lou in the shadow of the wire. Seeing this race live up close from my traditional spot on the Mohawk rail was only half the fun for me as I had predicted on my radio show North American Harness Update that TOL would upset and gave out the $133 exacta of Thinking Out Loud-Time To Roll on the Drive On blog.
#3 Race 3 Hanover Raceway - October 06, 2012
What better way can a guy like me celebrate his 48th birthday than to announce a live standard bred race for the very first time. What a thrill! Here is the video evidence (try not to cover your ears)
#4 Breeders Crown Aged Trot
Similar to the previous year’s edition here was a North America-Europe rivalry brewing in the BC Aged Trot. European Champion Commander Crowe, 3rd in the ‘11 edition was back and his connections stated publicly that they had learned something from the first journey and would be sending their hero to the front and letting NOBODY go early, including American champion (and Horse of the Year candidate) Chapter Seven. Little did we know that their strategy would produce the setting for a mile for the ages to be trotted:
#5 Breeders Crown 3YO Trot
Hambletonian winner Market Share came into the Breeders Crown a heavy favorite to vanquish some familiar foes and potentially win Horse Of The Year as only the fourth trotter in history to earn $2 million in one season. But Quebec-bred and owned and aptly named gelding Intimidate had other ideas. Following a stunning stretch explosion in the elims that vaulted the Canadian colt past Market Share late, Intimidate was one of the favorites in the Final. Rightfully so:
What makes this race special for me was watching many of the “little guys” celebrate wildly after their less-heralded gelding (that they paid big cash to supplement to the race) rewarded their confidence. It truly was magical to be in the middle of such a joyous celebration and Intimidate’s win provided a much-needed boost to the struggling industry in Quebec.
Those are my favorites; I’m sure you have some of your own that are equally exciting. Thank you for reading Drive On and may you have a Happy and prosperous New Year. See you in 2013!