Excitement is the air as 28 nominations from the top 4-year-old pacers in North America were received for the Sept. 21 harness celebration at Hippodrome 3R for the renewal of the Prix d'Été. The race will be the richest purse for 4-year-old pacers in 2014 at $200,000. In fact nine of the top 10 three-year-old money winning colts and geldings of 2013 were nominated.
The field is led by Vegas Vacation, trained by Casie Coleman and a winner of over $975,000 in 2013 with a record of 10-4-1 in 20 starts, which saw the winner of the 2013 Little Brown Jug take the prestigious O'Brien Award for 3-year-old pacing colts & geldings. His impressive stablemate Lucan Hanover is also nominated.
Sunshine Beach, trained by Mark Steacy, is the fastest of the nominees in the inaugural renewal of the Prix d'Été by virtue of his world record mile of 1:47.4f taken in winning the Battle of the Brandywine in 2013. In that race he defeated the 2012-2013 Pacer of the Year Captaintreacherous--who was not nominated to the Prix d'Ete--in arguably one of the best races of the year. Sunfire Blue Chip, winner of the Adios and Hempt stakes, and trained by Jimmy Takter is an accomplished potential contender.
Twilight Bonfire, second in last year's North America Cup, behind Captaintreacherous, Fool Me Once and Rockin Amadeus are additional top caliber nominees.
Apprentice Hanover, a winner of nine straight races, including the Cleveland Classic, until finishing third to Foiled Again in Saturday's first leg of the George Morton Levy Series at Yonkers Raceway could be a serious contender. Nominated, from the powerful Ron Burke Stable, is Dedi's Dragon, who defeated Captaintreacherous, in winning the Monument Circle last season.
Quebec fans will be cheering potentially for Hippodrome track record holder (1.52.4h) and champion Ontario 3YO pacing colt, Duc D'Orleans, as well as Captive Audience and Normandy Invasion.
Nominees are required to make a sustaining payment of $1,000 by April 15 to maintain their eligibility.
This group, with 16 nominees holding sub 1:50 records, has the potential of offering Quebec harness fans the best and most competitive fields of world class pacers seen in the La Belle Province since the last Prix d'Été in 1992. (Hippodrome 3R)