The races for Michigan Horse of the Year in the two juvenile divisions took another step toward sorting themselves out on Saturday following the Michigan Futurities at Pinnacle Race Course.
Also on the card Saturday was a $20,000 allowance race, pitting several competitors from this year’s Sire Stakes against each other for one more start in their home state.
With such a big day of racing on the card, I decided to head down to Pinnacle for one last day at the races before Sunday’s final date of the meet. I left the grounds with about $50 more than I came in with, so I would consider the day a rousing success.
Saturday was also one of Pinnacle’s giveaway days, with the free item being a newspaper-sponsored poster of the racetrack’s jockeys. In the patio area, said jockeys were made available to sign the posters. From what I saw, they were far from swamped with autograph requests, but I am glad to see Pinnacle trying to get the fans connected with the people on the track. At the moment, none of the faces on the poster have enough drawing power to make the promotion attract many more fans than an average Saturday afternoon (the people at the door were left with stacks of leftover posters), but perhaps after a few years, after a few of the jockeys get some inches in the local newspapers (and NOT for fixing races, guilty or not), the general public may single out some fan favorites. Either way, It is good to see Pinnacle trying things to draw people in.
Alright, less yappin’ more recappin’…
Shane Spiess’ homebred Nell’s Enjoyment picked up her long overdue first win of the meet, coming from nine lengths off the pace with a sweeping outside move to catch stretch leader Clever Idea at the wire by a nose. The five-year-old Quiet Enjoyment mare gave up several lengths to the rest of the field on the backstretch, trailing by so much she left the vision of the camera. She began to make her move heading into the turn, inching toward the leaders under jockey Mike Allen. Coming into the stretch, Nell’s Enjoyment was five wide and gobbling up lengths on leader Clever Idea, who was beginning to shake free of pacesetter Dublin Dutchess. Nell’s Enjoyment continued to gain on the leader, catching her in the final strides and getting ahead in a photo finish. Clever Idea took home second place money while a fading Dublin Dutchess held off Sire Stakes winner Wave Pool for third. Trained by owner and breeder Spiess, Nell’s Enjoyment improved her lifetime record to seven wins from 23 starts. Her past accomplishments include being named Michigan’s three-year-old filly of the year in 2006 and older filly or mare of the year in 2007.
1 Nell’s Enjoyment (Mike Allen) 10.80 5.40 3.40
6 Clever Idea (Ricardo Barrios) 4.80 4.00
4 Dublin Dutchess (T.D. Houghton) 2.60
(All statistics provided by Equibase.)
Michigan Juvenile Fillies Stakes
Trainer Bob Gorham’s stable made up the exacta, with Moon Charmer upsetting Sire Stakes winner Skyline Star in the Michigan Juvenile Fillies Stakes. The two-year-old Indian Charlie filly stalked the pace in the early goings under jockey Federico Mata before taking advantage of a large hole in the middle of the track to make her move to the front at the top of the stretch, then chased down early leader Skyline Star. They came to even terms with a sixteenth of a mile remaining before Moon Charmer pulled ahead in the final strides to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Skyline Star finished second while Peak of the Storm traveled up the rail, holding off a late-bidding Flint for third. Owned by Ron Bieke, the homebred Moon Charmer improved her record to two wins in three starts and increased her lifetime earnings to $40,500.
Despite finishing behind her stablemate, Skyline Star’s second-place effort in the race should be enough to lock up Michigan two-year-old filly of the year honors. The Meadow Prayer filly won her division’s Sire Stakes race two weeks ago and turned in another second place finish in the September 8 Sickle’s Image Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course, chalking up earnings of $74,952. Of this year’s juvenile filly crop, she is the only one to show up to every dance and run consistently well. I don’t see anyone else with an argument that can top that.
6 Moon Charmer (Federico Mata) 36.00 13.00 4.60
4 Skyline Star (T.D. Houghton) 3.20 2.80
3 Peak of the Storm (Patricia Trimble) 4.40
Mr. Conclusive added an exclamation point to his undefeated campaign for two-year-old male of the year, delivering another convincing performance in the Michigan Futurity. The Elusive Hour colt ran with the lead pack early on, taking the inside route against Romeo Again and stablemate Weepster. Jockey T.D. Houghton kept Mr. Conclusive on the rail for the rest of the race, disposed of his rivals coming out of the turn and never looked back, drawing away from yet another stablemate, Elusive Furrari, to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Meadow Wise finished a distant third. Owned by Charlie Williams and trained by Sandra Adkins, Mr. Conclusive and Elusive Furrari completed yet another stable exacta, with the third Williams/Adkins entry, Weepster, fading to last. Mr. Conclusive was bred by Jay and Lu Hall. With the win, Mr. Conclusive improved his untarnished record to four wins and increased his lifetime earnings to $123,052.
There is no doubt Mr. Conclusive will claim the Juvenile male title this year. His wins have been dominant, plentiful, and against the best two-year-olds Michigan has to offer. With this in mind, one can not help but wonder if we will see Mr. Conclusive among the list of Triple Crown nominees released at the beginning of next year. In 2008, Sharon Valley Farms’ Hot Chili was nominated to the Triple Crown and competed in some early prep races for the Lane’s End Stakes at Turfway Park. He missed the board in both stakes attempts, quickly ending his time on the trail, but it was still exciting to see a local boy get a shot at the big time. Mr. Conclusive has a resume just as good as Hot Chili did, if not better. This is not a request, this is not a demand. I’m not saying he should or shouldn’t be nominated. All I’m saying is it sure would be a lot of fun to see if he did.
1 Mr. Conclusive (T.D. Houghton) 2.60 2.20 2.10
6 Elusive Furrari (Ricardo Barrios) 15.80 5.80
7 Meadow Wise (Federico Mata) 3.40