Fancy Crown, the early line favorite to win the $365,000 Breeders Crown tonight at Rosecroft, could clinch harness horse of the year honors by winning impressively. But the 3-year-old filly will face two main obstacles.
First, she will race from the seven post, a disadvantage on Rosecroft's half-mile oval. Second, she will face a three-horse entry trained by Jan Johnson and driven by members of Continental Farms; those three can be expected to race as a team to defeat Fancy Crown.
After three weeks of the current meet at Rosecroft, horses in the No. 1 post position have won 22.5 percent of the races. Petrolianna, the strongest of the three-horse Johnson entry, is in that spot. Fancy Crown's No. 7 post position has won less than 4.5 percent of Rosecroft's races this fall.
Fancy Crown's trainer, Ted Andrews, points out that Fancy Crown raced at Roosevelt and Yonkers in June, drew bad posts -- Nos. 7 and 6, respectively -- and still finished on the board both times.
A month ago on the half-mile track in Delaware, Ohio, Fancy Crown proved she could handle tight turns. With regular driver Bill O'Donnell directing her, she trotted to a wire-to-wire victory in 1:57 1/5, a world record for 3-year-old trotting fillies and the second-fastest trot ever on a half-mile track.
Should she beat the outside post at the start of the race, her next task would be handling her main rival in the Crown, Petrolianna.
Since being driven by Berndt Lindstedt, perhaps the best trotting driver in the world, Petrolianna has won seven of her last 12 starts, including a victory over Fancy Crown last month at Lexington. However, trainer Johnson says, "Her best track to race on is a mile track. She's not as good on a half-mile as she is on a mile."
Petrolianna has made five starts this year on a half-mile oval, winning one and coming in second twice. In three of the five starts she broke stride.