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Decisions Ahead For Courtly Choice

Published: August 17, 2018 4:58 pm ET

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The owners of Courtly Choice have decisions to make regarding their colt’s future races, but might have a better idea of what they will do following Sunday’s Empire Breeders Classic for three-year-old male pacers at Tioga Downs.

Courtly Choice is the 9-5 morning-line favourite in the $272,025 Empire Breeders Classic championship, starting from post five with David Miller driving for trainer and co-owner Blake MacIntosh. At the moment, the colt’s only future stakes eligibility is in the Breeders Crown, but Courtly Choice’s connections previously paid nearly $100,000 to supplement to the Meadowlands Pace and Cane Pace and are considering other races to enter via those payments.

Earning large chunks of money can help make the decisions easier. Courtly Choice, who won the Meadowlands Pace and finished fourth in the Cane Pace, has seven victories in 10 starts this year and earned $493,000.

“It’s a little bit of stress figuring out what we want to do,” MacIntosh said. “Hopefully he keeps going forward and makes the decisions easy for us. We’re very fortunate to have a colt that’s come out this good. We’ll see how this weekend goes and figure it out.”

Sunday’s action at Tioga Downs also includes the Empire Breeders Classic final for three-year-old female pacers as well as the $161,000 Artiscape Stakes for female pacers, $143,000 Roll With Joe for male pacers, and two $30,000 divisions of the Miss Versatility Series for female trotters. Racing begins at 1:00 p.m. (EDT).

Youaremycandygirl brings a three-race win streak to the Empire Breeders Classic filly championship and is the 9-5 favourite. New Zealand-bred Shartin will be looking for her third victory in a row and is the 2-1 choice in the Artiscape while Rockin Ron is the 2-1 favourite in the five-horse Roll With Joe.

Courtly Choice enters the Empire Breeders Classic championship off a 1:49 win in his elimination last week. The time was one-fifth of a second off Heston Blue Chip’s track record for a three-year-old colt and two-fifths off gelding Vegas Vacation’s track record for any three-year-old pacer.

“I just want the cheque, I don’t care about track records,” MacIntosh said with a laugh. “Dave said he was well in hand. He was impressive.”

American History, who won the other Empire Breeders Classic elimination in 1:51.1, is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line followed by Ideal Feeling at 7-2 and Hitman Hill at 5-1.

“It’s a tough field, there is a lot of talent in there,” MacIntosh said. “Post five is a great spot for (Courtly Choice). He can leave enough to get a spot and then control his race from there, what he wants to do.”

Following the Empire Breeders Classic championship, Courtly Choice’s owners will decide where to go next. Their first decision will be whether to pay $30,000 to supplement to the Messenger Stakes at Yonkers Raceway. Eliminations, if necessary, will be Aug. 25 and the $500,000 final is Sept. 1.

“It’s pretty enticing,” said MacIntosh, who owns Courtly Choice as part of Mac And Heim Stables with Hutt Racing Stable, Daniel Plouffe, and Touch Stone Farms.

If the group enters the Messenger, another potential start could come in the Little Brown Jug on Sept. 20. It is $45,000 to supplement to the Jug, which is an opportunity presented to winners of the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Cane Pace, and Messenger Stakes if not already eligible to the event.

On the other hand, Courtly Choice could go to preliminary divisions of the New York Sire Stakes on Aug. 28 and/or Sept. 5 with the chance to qualify for the $225,000 final on Sept. 22. Courtly Choice has raced once on the NYSS circuit, winning at Vernon Downs in May.

Of course, the date of the NYSS final would necessitate bypassing the Little Brown Jug. But the preliminary rounds of the NYSS conflict with the Messenger.

“It’s tough,” said MacIntosh, who also is considering supplementing to races at The Red Mile later in the season. “When the time comes we’ll sit down as a group and weigh the pros and cons and go from there.”


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