The champions at the 2013 Breeders Crown on Oct. 19 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs included a quartet of undeniable dominating characters in four different divisions.
The crowning successes, if you will, of Father Patrick, I Luv The Nitelife, Bee A Magician and Captaintreacherous on a rain-soaked night in the Pennsylvania mountains were sterling (and the other winners performed heroically), but I want to address something about Captaintreacherous’ race that was beyond the usual or expected.
A friend and business partner was with us at Pocono. He is a fringe fan by any definition of a harness racing spectator. He dabbles in casual wagers and enjoys a night or two at the races. He accompanied me to the fence near the winner’s circle to witness the 3-year-old colt pacing final. The rain had stopped and I told him I wanted to be close to witness what I figured would be the second Captaintreacherous race I saw live (I was at Pocono the week before for the elims with another friend).
The victory by Captaintreacherous was yet another in a continuing series of thrilling horse races—by any breed. It had episodes within the four quarters, movement and drama that was supported by a screaming crowd that was not all noise for Captaintreacherous. Even diehard followers of the colt, as I have been since the start of the season, became dry of mouth while our hero paced as if he was flirting with surrender. It made the win all the more heart pumping when “The Captain” seemed to notice his late-in-the-stretch challenger (Sunshine Beach, the only horse to defeat him this season) and refuse that one’s attempt to gain an inch.
But that was my experience as an insider, a harness player and handicapper and journalist. I had no expectation that my friend was having a similar reaction. So I was shocked when he said, “Even I thought that was a great race to watch” and he went on to explain why it commanded his attention. I realized he would tell others when we returned home about his experience.
Then I recalled the week before another friend with us, a longtime Thoroughbred fan, said she was captivated by the Captaintreacherous elim victory. It was, as I recalled, also packed with inner-mile episodes and the colt’s relentless courage while appearing to be at the brink, where most other competitors cave.
This, I feel, was a spectacular and abstract component of two harness races that is rare. That two races could so engage people normally disconnected from the sport may tell us more than the fact that Captaintreacherous is an exceptional and colossal racehorse. Though there is nothing empirical about having two people as a sample group, it should make us all wonder how we can sensationalize on the action our sport offers to people that have never been exposed to harness racing.
Perhaps aside from all the great things Captaintreacherous has and can still accomplish, he can become one of our strongest advertisements. Perhaps if we all use word of mouth we may help to increase our audience—if only a pair at a time.
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