Freaky Feet Pete, a $62,500 supplemental entry rallied from well back as the favorite to capture the $531,250 U.S. ($689,244 Cdn) Breeders Crown three-year-old male pacing event at Woodbine on Saturday night. Earlier in the evening, Divine Caroline won the 3-year-old filly pace.
Freaky Feet Pete, an Indiana-bred son of Rockin Image, looked to be far out of contention on the final turn, but driver Trace Tetrick gave him his marching orders in the stretch and the colt sprinted to a 1:50 victory at the expense of Artspeak and Lost For Words.
Early speed was expected from the favorites in this event, but that was not the case as Lost For Words and Reverend Hanover from the outer tier of the starting gate engaged in an early battle as the favorites held their composure. Reverend Hanover had the lead in the :26 opening quarter, but Lost For Words and David Miller regained moving down the backstretch and controlled the issue through a :55 opening half.
Approaching the half In The Arsenal and Brian Sears moved for the second time and they were followed in order by Wakizashi Hanover, Freaky Feet Pete and Artspeak.
"I thought I was in a good spot following Tim and having Artspeak on my back,” said driver Trace Tetrick.
But the cover was not moving all that quickly on the turn as Miller and Lost For Words tried to put some separation on the field with a blistering :27.1 third quarter in the middle of a steady downpour.
In the stretch, Lost For Words opened up a few lengths, but Freaky Feet Pete had already been sent wide and he was closing with wild abandon. Trained by Larry Rheinheimer for owners Mary Jo Rheinheimer and Marty Rheinheimer, Freaky Feet Pete kicked home the winner, with Artspeak coming solidly late for second and Lost For Words finishing third. Wakizashi Hanover finished fourth and Dealt A Winner completed the final check getters.
It was the first Breeders Crown win for Trace Tetrick. "It's very exciting," he said. "I'll remember this forever.”
Freaky Feet Pete won for the 13th time in 15 starts this year, making good on a rather large bet put down by his owners.
Owner Larry Rheinheimer admitted to some uncertainty about winning while watching the race. "I didn't know if he would (win) or not. I knew there was lots of speed up front, which is what I was hoping for because I know he can get home pretty good."
But it wasn't a night for coming from behind at Woodbine.
"No, not at all," laughed Reinheimer. "He was a long way back. I was thinking about the other races earlier and he was far back. I thought maybe he'd get second or third at that point...
"It's been amazing," continued Reinheimer when asked about the year following Freaky Feet Pete. "Every race he goes, it's just been a different thing. He just amazes me every time he goes. He just wants to win."
"It's just a super night. Everywhere you look there someone to watch or a horse you want to watch. It's just a really, really big night. It's wonderful."
Divine Caroline found her form at the right time. After displaying some ability early in the season, the sophomore daughter of Rock N Roll Hanover added to her late-season surge, posting her fourth consecutive victory in the $500,000 3-year-old filly pace.
Owned by Val Dor Farms, Theodore Gewertz, Rojan Stables and Michael Ouriel, Divine Caroline became the fourth favorite in the first four Breeders Crown races to win. Divine Caroline is trained by Joe Holloway, who came into the 2015 Breeders Crown 12th in all-time winnings with more than $2.7 million. He had six previous winners, but had not found the winner circle since 2000.
Divine Caroline and Bettor Be Steppin raced in last year's Breeders Crown two-year-old filly pace. Bettor Be Steppin finished third, followed by Divine Caroline. But it's been a tale of two horses this year for the fillies. Bettor Be Steppin did well in the middle part of the season when Divine Caroline started to tail off. But it's been a different scenario in the fall. Both horses were in the race, but purely on current form Divine Caroline looked the better of the two.
Divine Caroline began her streak with a win in a division of the Bluegrass at the Red Mile and has kept rolling.
Driven as usual by David Miller, who began the night with a win with D'One in the mare trot, Divine Caroline sat far behind the early pace, which saw The Show Returns, an 86-1 outsider, and Southwind Roulette, 32-1, slug it out for the opening quarter mile. It was The Show Returns, who prevailed setting a Breeders Crown opening quarter mile record in a blistering 25 seconds. Bettor Be Steppin, driven by Corey Callaghan, had the lead after a half in :55. Miller had Divine Caroline fifth by six lengths at that point and following cover. Three quarters into the race, Sassa Hanover had the lead by 1¾ lengths in 1:23 2. Miller had his horse moving well at the point, and took over half way down the stretch and crossed the line first by 1¾ lengths in 1:51.
Bettor Be Steppin finished a distant eighth.
"Last year she showed high, high speed, but it took time for her to mature,” Holloway said. "Even through the beginning of the year, she was close but never winning. She's finally turned it around and become a top-notch filly.”
He liked the way the race unfolded.
"That's what you hope for, a good, clean trip,” Holloway said. "Caroline was in a good spot and she showed she could do it.”
Divine Caroline went postward at just under 7-10. She won her seventh race in 20 starts this season, surpassing $650,000 in earnings. In her career, she has totaled almost $800,000.
She paid $3.30, $2.80, $2.30. Sassa Hanover paid $12.50, $6.60. Bedroomconfessions paid $3.70.
The exacta paid $60.80. The trifecta $224.90.--By Perry Lefko/Breeders Crown