MILTON, September 19, 2019 – The $750,000 Metro Pace is harness racing’s richest two-year-old race in 2019 and for most of the connections racing it’s exactly the spot they planned on being.
A field of 10 rookie pacing colts and geldings will line up in the Metro Pace with six of the 10 having been purchased for $100,000 or more at last fall’s yearling sales. That number of six is one more than last year’s five and potentially the highest ever.
Capt Midnight is the 7/5 favourite in the Metro and was the most expensive purchase in the field at $350,000 (Harrisburg). The Tony Alagna trained son of Captaintreacherous has won five of seven starts for his connections and is the nation’s fastest rookie at 1:49.4.
A close second-choice at odds of 9/5 is the undefeated Tall Dark Stranger, who sold for $330,000 at last October’s Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. The Bettors Delight colt is perfect in five career starts for trainer Nancy Johansson and connections.
The most-expensive yearling purchase to ever win the Metro Pace is Simply Business, who pulled off a 20/1 upset in the 2011 edition. The son of Rocknroll Hanover-Cathedra Dot Com sold for $350,000 and went on to make just over a million-dollars in 183 career starts, with $500,000 of those earnings coming from his Metro win.
Since 2000, Simply Business and five other $100,000-plus yearling purchases have won the Metro Pace. Captaintreacherous in 2012 at $250,000 is the second most-expensive followed by Rocknroll Hanover in 2004 ($190,000), Camelot Hall in 2003 ($175,000), Stag Party in last year’s race ($125,000) and Artspeak in 2014 ($100,000).
This year’s race matches up with the saying “spend money to make money” and that has regularly been the case in the Metro Pace. While the rag to riches stories do happen, the average price of the 16 winners since 2000 that sold at a yearling auction is $102,562.
Sir Luck was the “cheapest” purchase of the winners since 2000 as a $20,000 buy in November 2001 at Harrisburg.
Beach Blanket Book could steal that title away from Sir Luck with an upset win from post-ten. The son of Sportswriter was a $17,000 purchase at last year’s Lexington Select sale.
As for the spot where the Metro winners have been purchased, graduates of the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale have won seven-times since 2006 with Harrisburg grads winning four during that period. The Lexington Selected Yearling Sale began in 2005 after Tattersalls and Kentucky Standardbred teamed their sales.
The only Metro winner since 2006 not to be sold at either Lexington or Harrisburg was Mystician in 2010. The Canadian Open graduate brought $45,000 as a yearling and scored a 29/1 upset in his Metro victory.
The story-line for this year’s race may be the expensive yearling buys, but a pair of homebreds will pace behind the gate in Saturday’s $750,000 event.
Sportswriter colt Ys Mathis is owned by Yves Sarrazin, who co-bred the pacer with Carl Duguay. One For Julius is from the first-crop of stallion Hes Watching and races for breeders Andrea Lea Racingstables Inc.
The last homebred to win the Metro Pace was Boomboom Ballykeel in 2010. The 10/1 upset winner was trained by Richard Moreau, who conditions Ys Mathis in this year’s race.
The Metro Pace is one of the most anticipated races each season and that anticipation begins for many while inspecting yearlings and purchasing their next great hope.
While it’s still early in the careers for the Metro field, on paper and based on early results this group could leave quite the legacy on the racetrack. Only time will tell.
Here is the breakdown of the Metro Pace field by yearling price.
Capt Midnight – $350,000 (Harrisburg)
Tall Dark Stranger – $330,000 (Lexington)
Captain Kirk – $200,000 (Lexington)
Esai Hanover – $155,000 (Harrisburg)
Team Best – $150,000 (Lexington)
Papi Rob Hanover – $130,000 (Harrisburg)
Seeyou At Thebeach – $70,000 (Harrisburg)
Beach Blanket Book – $17,000 (Lexington)
Ys Mathis – Homebred
One For Julius – Homebred