• August’s Curtain Falls With Crescendo On Labor Day Weekend

    POSTED Aug 27, 2014
    August harness racing is about to reach a peak in its finale as the three-day weekend, which unofficially ends the summer season, arrives. The Labor Day holiday does not include harness action around the continent, with Canadian and American stakes events swarming through the daylight and nighttime hours.

    No division is left un-raced, with an emphasis on the new candidates, as freshman colt pacers are featured in the Metro Pace and frosh fillies in the She’s A Great Lady finals at Mohawk. The divisions also contest lucrative Champlain and Simcoe stakes and “The Sweet Lou Show,” for the older pacers, is on the program, too—this week’s episode is titled the Canadian Pacing Derby Final.

    Glamour boys and gals on the trotting side are featured at Vernon in “Zweig” splits and on the pacing side there is Labor Day’s traditional Cane Pace and those aren’t even all of the features. On the same program, Sebastian K takes on his usual and some new challengers in the six-digit Crawford Farms mile.

    So load your TwinSpires account and charge your devices between meals, snacks and relaxation while picking and choosing your moves. Our suggestions follow here and on our exclusive blog, this year’s Breeders Crown Countdown, now on line. We link to it from this main blog for coverage of races through the rest of the season leading to the championship events in November, in cooperation with the Hambletonian Society and TwinSpires.

    Check out TwinSpires-Hoosier Park’s 10-percent bonus for hitting Pick 4s every night there is racing at the Indiana track. And, of course, our horses-to-watch list (H2W) offers live contenders for win, place, show and exotics from tracks across the continent.

    The Metro Pace Final

    The $667,000 Metro Pace Final for frosh-colt pacers has been upset territory over the years as well as some deserved public choices have taken the honors. We know this because our win record for this race over the last decade has included choosing both pay types.

    On Aug. 30, the obvious may rule in Artspeak, a first-season colt that races like a veteran. As well, the streaking local, Go Daddy Go, who won the other elim last week, is sharp, though his connections know he must improve here to make a major impression. The contender with the most improvement who could shake “Daddy” from an obvious place finish and, with the help of a speed duel, create an upset shockwave, is Lone Survivor.

    Trapped and shuffled and returning late with resilience, “Survivor” was as close to beating Daddy as Lyons Levi Lewis in the first elim. The two moves he made may have equaled a win if things went differently but in the final, chasing Artspeak will be the game and if the huge favorite is compromised at all on top, Survivor may indeed be the lone survivor of the field.  

    She’s A Great Lady

    The $480,000 She’s A Great Lady Final at Mohawk on “Metro” night will feature a sterling favorite and strong leader of this division in Jk Shesalady. Last week’s elim-topper was immaculate and far better than the other two elim winners’ efforts. She should romp again at odds that could eliminate show betting; she is that strong.

    Solar Sister is an interesting exacta addition and should up the payoff. At 37-1 she had a far more stressful trip against “Jk” than place-finisher Divine Caroline (public’s second choice). The other exactor and triactor companion should be Shakai Hanover, a beaten favorite in her elim.

    The Sweet Lou Show

    This week, Sweet Lou looks for his 11th-straight win against the toughest, albeit the same, group of older pacers that have followed him in his 10-race win skein as he leads the cast of the $634,000 Canadian Pacing Derby (CPD) on Aug. 30 at Mohawk. Missing this week is Captaintreacherous, whose connections scratched him from the CPD elim due to illness.

    ”Lou” has major foes in Bettors Edge and Foiled Again, both in this field, but only an unpredictable circumstance would find Lou behind them at the wire. All the others are rungs below Lou, including some of the local favorites that fans have been insisting can beat him. This, however, is not a hockey game, it’s the Sweet Lou Show and he is the best exotic key to come along in a long time. Stay with the program and use the two foes mentioned in criss-crosses for trifectas and in separate exactas, especially if the locals lean on any others.

    Grand Circuit events at Mohawk for Friday and Satruday, for two-and three-year-olds, the Champlains and Simcoes, are covered this week at the Breeders Crown Countdown blog.

    Zig-‘Zwieg’-Zag

    The colts for the $340,000 Zweig Memorial on Friday, Aug. 29 at Vernon Downs,  are familiar and talented and, for all due purposes, still led by the best—Father Patrick. Unless he scratches between our press time and Aug. 29 for health reasons that help explain his post-Hambletonian loss, there is still no one in this cast, including his stable mate Nuncio, that are better than him on their best day.

    If his two successive losses cause his win-price offerings to increase, then there is no question he is the key for exotics as well as a win bet (it has been a while since being able to play him straight at prohibitive win odds. A good addition in combo tickets is Martiniwithmuscle. When on gait, this one knows how to float and is getting better as he and the season become older.

    The $150,000 filly division of the Zweig is a bad race to give up on Shake It Cerry. Even if you feel Lifetime Pursuit has overcome her, that one is absent here and “Cerry” wins this by default. There may be some chances taken on members of this field by bettors but let’s face it, Cerry is tons better than these, including Heaven’s Door, who loomed more of a formidable foe last month than she does now. What we hope is that Broadway Socks, Avalicious and “Door” are the smokescreen that gives us another surprise price on the filly that continues to keep on giving to the bettor when it counts. You go girl.

    Oh ‘K’

    Friday, Aug. 29 at Vernon Downs on the night of the Zweigs, the $236,000 Crawford Farms Open, matches super Sebastian K against Bee A Magician, Market Share, Mister Herbie, Archangel and five others.

    The speedy Swedish Horse of the Year and top-rated horse in the sport this season, Sebastian K may actually offer a better, albeit low, price to win considering New York champ Archangel is here and loyalty is often measured in wagers. But Sebastian is all around better at racing, at least right now, and he has it all over the local and the mare, Bee A Magician. Hope for a price breaking $3 on Sebastian is slim but, as the saying goes, men have been killed for less/

    The Cane Pace

    With two colts coming into the race per $35,000 supplemental fees, there are eight entries in the 2014 Cane Pace field on Sept. 1 at Tioga. For years this was a special event, it being the first jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown (a series with more than three events when you add eliminations). Although there is still a “crown” for winning it, the Little Brown Jug and the Messenger Stakes, there is little for any bettor to be concerned about along the way. Sadly, even the press value of the series has died.

    However, alive and racing are some of the top soph-colt pacers of the season, including the industry’s anointed Hes Watching. The fast but opportunistic Hes Watching is one of three supplements. He meets major foe Jk Endofanera, the competitive Doo Wop Hanover, improving Lyonssomewhere (supplement), Stevensville (his first nemesis of the season), Luck Be Withyou (supplement), Bushwacker and Beat The Drum.

    This could very well wind up to be like the North America Cup in a few ways which give Jk Endofanera an edge. The early-speed factor weighs heavily in this mile and Hes Watching may be over-confident after his recent efforts and ready to play his speed card. That will be his Waterloo, since Lyonssomewhere has the natural ability to fire early (though he has the burden of being short late). In the first-quarter you may also see Stevensville hustling for a front spot, as well as Beat The Drum will have a fancy to be up there.

    The grinding colts with more than a few chances to take advantage of the speed scenario are Doo Wop Hanover and Jk Endofanera, the latter who did just that at 12-1 in the “Cup” with a similar configuration and some of the same horses. As well, “Jk” has once again fallen out of favor to Hes Watching and that is always good for his odds, making them far less than his chances. “Doo Wop” could be a perfect closing companion to complete a surprisingly healthy exacta.

    H2W Legend

    Review our choices and follow the wagering at the prescribed track. These are possible contenders we have judged from reviewing races. The horses’ names are listed beneath the name of the track after the date they will be racing. The race in which they are entered (R and race number) follows. If a + is in front of a horse’s name it means it is appearing on the list for the second (and last time) because it failed to win the first time it appeared. An “ae” signals the horse is entered on the also-eligible list. If a horse is listed twice, refer to the entries on the night of the race since a horse may enter in more than one race. Types of wagering on any of the H2W listed horses are based on your judgment. If you have any questions, email us at TwinSpires.

    H2W

    Batavia
    8/29/14, +Red Star Fiona R1
    8/30/14, +Pleasing Form R4; +Aberarder Smitty R6; Bruisers Sister R8

    Freehold
    8/30/14, Kings Legend R8

    Hoosier
    8/28/14, +Toni’s Affection R12
    8/29/14, +Golden Big Stick R12

    Maywood
    8/28/14, Impersonal R1; +Online Learning ae R5

    Meadows
    8/29/14, +Upfront Billy Boy R5; Tuckered Out R7;

    Ocean
    8/28/14, Rockin Roxanne R4
    8/29/14, +Ge’s Alex R2; +Truly My Way R4; Money Paige R10

    Pocono
    8/29/14, Clearview Hanover R6; Lady Alice R13
    8/30/14, Smilin Eli R11

    Philadelphia
    8/28/14, Senor Grande ae R3
    8/31/14, +Bobs Girl R14

    Saratoga
    8/28/14, +Curly’s Son R3; +Crazy Wow R9
    8/30/14, Good Win Earl R2; +Bo’s So Hot R11 
     
    Scarborough
    8/22/14, Creditable Winner R2; Hobsons Choice R6

    Scioto
    8/28/14, Docs Zippy R6; Whowhohoosier R12
    8/29/14, Creatine R5
    8/30/14, Tempster Hanover R3;  +Lookingforadventure R11

    Yonkers
    8/29/14, +Sweet Justice R8
    8/30/14, +Man He Can Scoot R2; +Bubble Boy R3; +Heston Blue Chip R6; Big Jer ae R10

    Ray Cotolo contributes to each edition.      
  • Cotolo’s Harness Review, News And Notes

    POSTED Aug 24, 2014
    With all of the stakes action focused at Mohawk this weekend, we found some fair prices on some obvious contenders that won. Next Saturday’s Mohawk program will present the lucrative finals to the elim events of the past weekend as we see more racing than usual during the U.S. Labor Day holiday weekend.

    In the Casual Breeze splits on Aug. 22 at Mohawk we were in tune with everyone in one elim with Lifetime Pursuit ($2.90, $2.10, $2.10 ok) and off the board with My Inspiration at 7-1.

    Aug. 23’s winners were topped by Go Daddy Go ($6, $3.10, $2.50) who offered a generous win price as a second choice in one of two Metro Pace elim splits. We tried to beat the huge favorite, Artspeak, but could not.

    Sweet Lou ($2.30, $2.10 n/s) easily won his 10th-straight race in a Canadian Pacing Derby elim for all of us. In the second split, our choice scratched (see News and Notes below).

    Again, the best we could do in the She’s A Great Lady trio of elims was the obvious Jk Shesalady ($2.40, $2.10, $2.10 ok), with our other two choices at 8-1 and 61-1 quite out of the mixes.

    A fascinating note of cashing on our contenders appears in our horses-to-watch list (H2W). The highest paying winner of the week was at Yonkers; we were following Insane In Spain on Friday night. He went off at 23-1 and shared the win with a huge favorite in a dead heat. The win prices were obviously compromised by the dual victory and instead of paying $48 to win, Insane In Spain paid 9-2 to win and more to place. We did, of course, win both exactas (using the favorite, as we suggest with our H2W choices).

    We continue this year’s Breeders Crown Countdown blog in our weekly TwinSpires harness previews, linking to it for coverage of races through the rest of the season leading to the championship events in November. Don’t miss one episode and look for archived race reviews at the Hambletonian Society site.

    TwinSpires and Hoosier continue a three-pronged power-packed program for harness players. Tuesdays, wager all you want and earn 10 TSC Elite Points per dollar bet. Click here for details. Every Thursday night, there is a 20-percent bonus on hitting the Pick 4 starting at Race 3. Click here for details. And the ongoing 10-percent Pick-4 bonus every racing night on Pick-4 hits continues through the meet. Click here for details.

    In between published harness blogs, follow @FrankCotolo and @TwinSpires on Twitter to get tips on Hoosier contenders you can use in your tickets. Other possibilities appear in exclusive H2W list.

    H2W RESULTS

    The H2W results list across-the-board prices. Also, exactas are included when a H2W horse finishing first or second completes the result with a race favorite or another H2W horse listed in the same race (an asterisk appears when both horses were listed to complete the exacta). This week, there were 30 active horses on the H2W list.

    Winners

    Insane In Spain, $11, $17.20 ok, $4.30 (Dead-Heat Exactas, $42.60, $8.40)
    Art For Arts Sake, $6.60, $3.60, $2.80, Pocono
    Rules Little Man, $4.40, $3.40, $2.80, Ocean

    Seconds

    Bridges Beauty, $14.80, $9, Hoosier
    Spirit Of Desire, $8, $3 (Exacta $29), Pocono
    Whitesville Ted, $5.80, $3.80, Ocean

    Thirds

    Hobsons Choice, $6, Scarborough
    Scorpius, $3.90, Batavia
    Upfront Billy Boy, $3.40, Meadows
    Red Star Fiona, $2.80, Batavia
    Wilfully Scootereva, $2.80, Maywood

    News & Notes

    Captaintreacherous was scratched from a Canadian Pacing Derby elimination, according to trainer Tony Alagna, due to sickness. “We ran a scope down him because he was off his feed and he had a lot of mucus,” said Alagna. “He is fighting off an infection and we just didn’t think it was in his best interest to race him if he’s not a hundred per cent.” Alagna said it’s disappointing to have to pull out of the race, as the pacer is undefeated is six starts at Mohawk, “but we don’t want to compromise the rest of the year or the horse if he isn’t a hundred per cent.”

    Three Ontario-owned three-year-old pacing colts have paid $35,000 supplements to race in the Cane Pace at Tioga Downs on Sept. 1. With them there are only eight colts entered so eliminations will not be required. We will analyze the $437,325 final along with other Labor Day weekend features in our Thursday blog.

    Another great pacer has passed away. Life Sign, the 1993 Little Brown Jug winner and Hall of Fame member, died in Australia, on Aug.14, at the age of 24. A son of the incomparable Abercrombie and world champion filly Three Diamonds, Life Sign raced only at a two and three, amassing $1.9 million from 18 wins, 10 seconds and five thirds in 35 starts. Besides his record-breaking “Jug” success, most memorable for the outside trip on the half-mile in Ohio, he won the three-year-old Breeders Crown, Art Rooney, Governor’s Cup and others. At the stud Life Sign left the winners of more than $113 million in stakes in North America, placing him among the top-10 money-winning sires at his gait. While in Australia his stock earned $12.4 million and in New Zealand they amassed almost $2 million.

    There is still no word if Father Patrick will race in the “Zweig” at Tioga on Labor Day weekend. The once-immaculate gait of Father Patrick was compromised when he broke at the beginning of the Hambletonian and galloped all the way around. Then he showed up for a Tompkins-Geers and finished second to Datsyuk, just another in the division that could not get to “Patrick” all season. The race was reported as having an “uneventful” start, though Patrick went wide for a spell to take the lead. But he has never been “short,” and struggled to dismiss a challenge late even with difficult starts. All of his is leaving questions about his health and immediate racing plans and unless the Jimmy Takter team releases some information about a problem or Patrick is not scratched from the Zweig, we can only suspect something is amiss.

    Our continuing look at drivers streaking on programs brings us this week to Aaron Byron, who races at Tioga Downs. On Aug. 22 he won five of his 10 drives and that 50-percent win rate for him translated into profits for those following him with win bets. Wagering solely on the fact that Aaron was driving, it cost a bettor $20 for the evening. Aaron’s winners returned $54.20, a profit of $34.20.

    Extraordinary Extras

    Indulge in many standardbred topics at my Hoof Beats blog titled Vast Performances.

    Ray Cotolo contributed to this blog

    Cartoons by Thom Pye ~ For more Thom Pye cartoon, informative harness history and products, click here ~

  • Beating an Efficient Market

    POSTED
    Despite what various racetrack touts and system peddlers say, one of the things that makes consistently beating the races so tough is that, for the most part, pari-mutuel betting markets are efficient. This means that all the relevant and available information affecting the outcome of a horse race is generally known and accounted for. Hence, the final odds are an accurate reflection of a horse’s chances of winning — minus the track take and breakage, of course.

    Sure, there are pockets of inefficiency and irrationalism. Scholars have long documented the existence of a “favorite-longshot bias,” whereby shorter-priced horses are slightly underbet and longer-priced horses slightly overbet. However, such inefficiencies are but ripples on the pari-mutuel ocean.

    Still, the fact that inefficiencies can and do exist provides hope that the races can be beaten — just like grainy, out-of-focus video footage provides hope to some that bigfoot lives among us (often disguised as a broken tree branch).

    In this article, I will attempt to show readers how they can spot and capitalize on inefficient markets — as well as efficient markets — to make more moolah at the racetrack.

    Follow the Money 


    Not to go all “Deep Throat” on everybody, but the simplest way to spot an efficient or inefficient market is to follow the money. Consider the following scenario:

    John Doe is given $2 to bet to win on any horse running at Saratoga on Saturday.

    * How does he choose what race to bet?
    * How does he choose which horse to bet?

    Well, assuming Mr. Doe is logical, one would expect him to play the race and horse that (he believes) give him the best chance of winning. However, even if Doe possessed the superior handicapping acumen of a dart-throwing monkey or one of those omnipotent racetrack touts mentioned earlier, it is clear that any market comprised solely of his wager would have to be inefficient. For, even if we ignored the fact that Doe’s horse would be 1-9, we are stuck with the unfortunate detail that all the other horses in the field — those that didn’t receive any of Doe’s dough — would be lumped together at 99-1.

    Obviously, this is not an accurate assessment of each horse’s chances.

    Thus, even though this was an extreme example, it should be self-evident that less money and fewer wagers equal a less efficient market. Might the opposite also be true? Does more money and more wagers lead to a more efficient market?

    I decided to find out.

    To provide a baseline, I first looked at all sole betting favorites (no favored entries) from a variety of races run across the fruited plain from September to December of 2013:

    Number – 7,996
    Winners – 2,904
    Win Rate – 36.3%
    $2 Net – $1.67
    IV – 2.80
    OBIV – 0.84

    Next, I analyzed favorites in races with the lowest straight (win, place and show) handle on the card (provided the total pool was less than $10,000). As expected, the numbers took a nosedive, giving credence to my hypothesis that less betting/money results in a less efficient market:

    Number – 185
    Winners – 61
    Win Rate – 33.0%
    $2 Net – $1.50
    IV – 2.11
    OBIV – 0.75

    Lastly, I looked at races with the greatest straight handle on the card (provided the total pool exceeded $10,000). Not surprisingly (at least to me), the figures were fantastic:

    Number – 830
    Winners – 320
    Win Rate – 38.6%
    $2 Net – $1.73
    IV – 3.35
    OBIV – 0.89

    In races featuring above-average betting action, favorites won 38.6 percent of the time, lost just 13 cents per dollar wagered (compared to 16 cents for favorites overall) and had an impact value (IV) of 3.35 (versus 2.80 for favorites on the whole).

    The Efficient Data Hypothesis

    Now, I know what some of you are thinking: big deal, Derek, your “fantastic figures” still produced a loss of 13 percent. What good does it do to identify efficient and/or inefficient pari-mutuel markets if one still loses one’s shirt?

    Keep your chin up, Daniel-san. It’s not so much what the stats tell us about these specific instances, it’s what they imply about handicapping in general. Let’s go back to the definition of market efficiency: all the relevant and available information affecting the outcome of a horse race is generally known and accounted for.

    To me, this suggests that “all the relevant and available information affecting the outcome of a horse race” may be overvalued or undervalued in races attracting more or less wagering dollars, respectively. In other words, rather than patterning one’s handicapping around specific race conditions — placing extra value on workouts in two-year-old races, stressing class in turf races, etc. — a player might be better served by using the straight wagering pools to emphasize or de-emphasize traditional factors.

    Take speed figures, for example. Using the database of races above, I compiled the following stats on horses possessing the best last-race Brisnet speed figure over today’s general track surface (AW/dirt or turf):

    Number – 6,353
    Winners – 1,835
    Win Rate – 28.9%
    $2 Net – $1.74

    Nothing to get the pulse racing, right? Well, if you’re standing up, grab a chair (you’ll want to be sitting) and look at what happens when the digits above are parsed based on the size of the win, place and show pools:

    STRAIGHT MUTUEL POOLS GREATER THAN OR EQUAL TO $25K

    Number – 4,299
    Winners – 1,209
    Win Rate – 28.1%
    $2 Net – $1.70

    STRAIGHT MUTUEL POOLS LESS THAN $25K

    Number – 2,054
    Winners – 626
    Win Rate – 30.5%
    $2 Net – $1.83

    In races with less than $25,000 in the win, place and show pools, the horse(s) with the top last-race speed figure produced a loss of just eight cents on the dollar — nearly half the loss produced in races with higher pool totals.

    Get the point? By gauging the relative efficiency of the market one is betting into — be it the first race at Arapahoe Park or the feature race at Del Mar — my research suggests that well-known predictive factors like speed and class can be upgraded or downgraded accordingly.

    And that, my friends, is what good handicapping is all about.

  • Mohawk’s stampede of stakes elims take the forefront

    POSTED Aug 20, 2014
    Although some other divisions hosting stakes this weekend, the focus for the industry will be upon two-year-olds battling for berths in the lucrative Metro Pace for pacing colts and She’s A Great Lady for pacing fillies at Mohawk, along with elims for soph-filly trotters with two Casual Breeze splits on Aug. 22, while on Saturday the program includes two Metro elims, three elims for the She’s A Great Lady stakes (a Metro for the glamour gals) and two elims for the older pacers’ Canadian Pacing Derby.

    Our exclusive blog, this year’s Breeders Crown Countdown, is now on line. We link to it from this main blog for coverage of races through the rest of the season leading to the championship events in November, in cooperation with the Hambletonian Society and TwinSpires.

    Check out TwinSpires-Hoosier Park’s 10-percent bonus for hitting Pick 4s every night there is racing at the Indiana track. And, of course, our horses-to-watch list (H2W) offers live contenders for win, place, show and exotics from tracks across the continent.

    Ladies Of The Trot

    The $202,529 Casual Breeze, once contested in June to work as a prep for the now defunct Elegant Image trot, attracts the sport’s top soph-filly trotters in a two-split contest on the Friday, Aug. 22 card at Mohawk.

    One division of the total 18 fillies has a field with all the top fillies, while the other contains the second-tier competition. The opening division is the second-tier showdown, featuring the dead-heat winners of the Duenna, contested Hambletonian weekend, My Inspiration and Donatella Hanover. The Canadians also have a hometown favorite in White Becomes Her, making this an interesting wagering affair.

    White Becomes Her, because of her experience over this oval, is the horse to beat. She’s a front-trotting type but in her last two starts she has been caught by fillies who draft in the pocket. Seeing as that is her only visible weakness, the logical choice in this race would be a front-type who prefers to stalk the pace. Enter My Inspiration.

    The Trond Smedshammer filly has hit the board in six of her seven starts in her career, with every race having her positioned near the front. This Chocolatier filly has really improved into her sophomore year and should be sharpening with every mile. She’ll be in the right place to sweep by White Becomes Her and give us a nice price.

    Ever since trainer Jimmy Takter fit the shoes on Lifetime Pursuit, she has been unstoppable. A perfect trip in the Hambletonian Oaks made her an undeniable winner, then she follows her 1:50.4 world mark with another world record, this one of 1:51.3 at the Meadows, putting her in the same club as fillies Check Me Out and Designed To Be, who will compete for redemption against Lifetime Pursuit.

    All in all, there’s no point in trying to beat the best filly in the division. We certainly liked her at two, even though we never cashed on her. But she is currently at the peak of her form, which evidently is unstoppable.


    The ‘Metro’ Gang

    It’s time for two-year-old colt pacers to face the big-buck challenge as the Metro Pace elims decide the field for the biggest frosh event of the season. Next week at Mohawk The Metro Pace Final puts the pressure on the top frosh colt pacers, with the top three finishers carrying the weight of early favoritism for 2015 stakes for glamour boys. Two Metro elims, each worth $40,000, are on the program Aug. 23 at Mohawk.

    In round one, some of the top sires of the season present sons and the surprise Sportswriter colt, Sports Bettor, who debuted last week against the Grand Circuit types and won at 69-1, will get more action than that this time around. What he probably won’t get, though, is the trip that afforded him the path late to win that Nassagaweya split. Here, he has to contend with three colts that weren’t in that affair and a few that lost to him also look like trouble.

    First there’s To Daddy Go, the Bob McIntosh son of Ponder that won the “Waterloo” on Grand River’s smaller track and came right back on the big oval to lose by a smidgeon after a tough first panel. He may wallow through this mile and be worth a low price. Look out, however, for Asap Hanover, who may be offering a greater price than last week. He was the favorite when Sports Bettor exploded the tote board and he is out for revenge after an awful trip.

    Four wins in four starts with no challengers will make Artspeak the humungous choice in round two. There is little doubt that Artspeak will be winging out of the gate to take the top and attempt a total command of the mile. That attempt may give The Wayfaring Man two easy turns, sucking along in the catbird seat and raring to give Artspeak a late taste of losing. That is the best scenario for a price, assuming “Man” will offer a far-and-away decent price as the second or, hopefully, third choice.

    Great Ladies

    There are frosh-pacing fillies everywhere, demanding three eliminations for the She’s A Great Lady at Mohawk on Aug. 23. A total of 25 fillies have entered but only 10 will compete for the near-half-a-million dollar prize.

    An interesting detail to watch in these races is if the gals who competed in the Eternal Camnation last week have any sort of advantage. Seeing as 15 of the 25 entered for this race competed in the “Camnations,” it might make for a good betting angle.

    The opening split features one winner of a Camnation, Shakai Hanover, and other Camnation-gals including The Show Returns, Bedroomconfessions, Strut My Stuff and Palette Tina. The public will likely piggy-back Bedroomconfessions, even though she was second, off her strong performance in the opening Camnation split. We’ll take our chances with another Camnation-ist, one who was certainly fast, but was disqualified off an odd pylon violation.

    Palette Tina appeared green out of the gate in her division, sprinting to the quarter in :27.3 to then sit a pocket and gamely slide up the inside to finish second. Unfortunately, she was also green when veering to the inside lane, as she had a wheel inside two pylons, forcing her disqualification. We see her improving with maturity, as she has always been a weird filly, especially in her second start, when she kicked home in :25.4.

    First, the Johansson stable produced a talented youngster named Western Vintage, who went on to win his Metro elim but failed to hold off Boomboom Ballykeel in the final. Johansson returns with a filly that put in a phenomenal performance in the second division of the Camnation, Jk Shesalady.

    On a night where speed was dominant, she came from 9 lengths off the lead and entered another gear to begin sprinting her way towards the lead. She cleared command at the top of the stretch and continued to draw away, winning in 1:53.4. Here is a special filly, and likely the one to dominate this division. There’s no beating her, at least in this elimination.

    The final elim features Happy Becky, winner of the Whenuwishuponastar Series and the favorite in her Camnation split last week. She sprinted to try and catch Bedroomconfessions and Shakai Hanover but had too much ground to cover. While the majority will be flying back to support her, we’ll join the minority in a nice filly that was caught behind Jk Shesalady in her Camnation elim: Bin N Heaven.

    Firstly, Bin N Heaven was fourth to Jk Shesalady, Cowgirl Tough and Cashaway, none of which are here. Secondly, she sat the pocket to Wicked Little Minx, who went from first to eighth by 29 lengths within a quarter-of-a-mile. Having to navigate around her, it’s ridiculous to think she could catch Jk Shesalady, so her fourth-place effort is positive. She’ll likely be put towards the front again, except on this occasion, she could claim victory. 

    Sweet Lou Time

    It’s Sweet Lou time again, this episode being the first of two $40,000 elims of the Canadian Pacing Derby, also on the Mohawk card Aug. 23. Really, how can we create a scenario to wager against him? He seems tireless and makes all of his foes look powerless. Maybe if we found out trainer Ron Burke made “Lou” walk to Canada from the states we could take a deeper look at the same old joes he has been beating throughout the season.

    The second elim gives six who have been in the line of Lou’s fire different chances to get into the winner’s circle. The closest to Lou recently has been Bettors Edge, who comes from post 2 here and may try to lead the charge from start to finish. But we have to look again at a bargain—Captaintreacherous.

    The local fans will be shouting for State Treasurer, who got a good spot to be second to Lou two back. But he isn’t the horse Captaintreacherous is in any capacity, no less the kind of horse Captaintreacherous is becoming as he knocks around the neighborhood of stalwart elders. There is a contingent of anti-Captaintreacherous folk here and they will be backing “State” and Thinking Out Loud while singing “Oh Canada.” This should make for a juicy win pool for Captaintreacherous, even with only six going here. A strong cover trip or a seat behind Bettors Edge if that one leaves could get the “Captain” home on top.

    H2W Legend

    Review our choices and follow the wagering at the prescribed track. These are possible contenders we have judged from reviewing races. The horses’ names are listed beneath the name of the track after the date they will be racing. The race in which they are entered (R and race number) follows. If a + is in front of a horse’s name it means it is appearing on the list for the second (and last time) because it failed to win the first time it appeared. An “ae” signals the horse is entered on the also-eligible list. If a horse is listed twice, refer to the entries on the night of the race since a horse may enter in more than one race. Types of wagering on any of the H2W listed horses are based on your judgment. If you have any questions, email us at TwinSpires.

    H2W

    Batavia
    8/22/14, Red Star Fiona R1; Canbec Jewell Sun R1; +Scorpius R11; Pleasing Form R11
    8/23/14, +Blown Away ae R2; Sbm Innocentoutlaw R4; Aberarder Smitty R11

    Hoosier
    8/21/14, Earls Little Dude R10; Bridges Beauty R14

    Maywood
    8/21/14, Breanna Official ae R2; Just A Minute ae R2; +Wilfully Scootereva R7; Online Learning R8

    Meadows
    8/22/14, Tuckered Out ae R5; Bluenose Gal R12; Upfront Billy Boy R12

    Ocean
    8/21/14, +Whitesville Ted R2
    8/22/14, Rules Little Man R3

    Pocono
    8/22/14, Annuity R4; +Spirit Of Desire R8; Art For Arts Sake R13

    Running Aces
    8/23/14, Windsun T Bird R7; +Co-op Hanover R8

    Saratoga
    8/23/14, +Duel In The Sun R11; Bo’s So Hot R12; Titan De Vie R12
     
    Scarborough
    8/22/14, Creditable Winner R2; Hobsons Choice R6

    Scioto
    8/21/14, Whowhohoosier R2
    8/22/14, Lookingforadventure R4; +Chip Of Art R12

    Tioga
    8/23/14, +Professorsdapapers R4

    Yonkers
    8/21/14, +Natural Habitat R4
    8/22/14, +Insane In Spain R9
    8/23/14, Man He Can Scoot R2, Bubble Boy R3

    Ray Cotolo contributes to each edition.      
  • Cotolo’s Harness Review, News And Notes

    POSTED Aug 17, 2014
    Our best move of the weekend was Friday, Aug. 15, at Northfield Park when our projected scenario came to life on the “Home of the Flying Turns” and the strong third public choice, All Bets Off, defeated the crowd’s big favorite, Mcwicked. All Best Off ($16.60, $2.40 ns) paced by the two burning out speed ¾ lengths before the wire and won. Mcwicked and Luck Be Withyou could not be separated for second and that dead heat killed the place price.

    Another, bigger upset can not be placed on our watch. Datsyuk ruined Father Patrick’s revenge race at Tioga by beating him at 25-1. Father Patrick was trotting, though, unlike his gallop jaunt around the Meadowlands in the Hambletonian. He dueled early on the outside but that is little excuse for the powerhouse trotter to have been short a few steps at the wire.

    Dancin Yankee was not an upset but he defeated our choice, Heston Blue Chip ($5.20, $2.90), in the Joe Gerrity Memorial at Saratoga. That exacta (Dancin Yankee was the overwhelming favorite) paid $16.80.

    In the frosh stakes at Mohawk we were no better than second in two Nassagaweyas. We had Cowgirl Tough ($7.20, $2.10) with the favorite for an exacta worth $32.10, as well as Go Daddy Go ($3.70, $3.20) among the colt affairs.

    Our choice from last week won the Gold Cup & Saucer but this week we went with the fifth-place finisher, Scott Rocks, due to win-mutuel offerings. We were second in the consolation with Mach Wheel ($2.50, $3 ok).

    Our opening essay for this year’s Breeders Crown Countdown blog is now on line. We will be linking to it for coverage of races through the rest of the season leading to the championship events in November.

    TwinSpires and Hoosier continue a three-pronged power-packed program for harness players. Tuesdays, wager all you want and earn 10 TSC Elite Points per dollar bet. Click here for details. Every Thursday night, there is a 20-percent bonus on hitting the Pick 4 starting at Race 3. Click here for details. And the ongoing 10-percent Pick-4 bonus every racing night on Pick-4 hits continues through the meet. Click here for details.

    In between published harness blogs, follow @FrankCotolo and @TwinSpires on Twitter to get tips on Hoosier contenders you can use in your tickets. Other possibilities appear in exclusive H2W list.

    H2W RESULTS

    The H2W results list across-the-board prices. Also, exactas are included when a H2W horse finishing first or second completes the result with a race favorite or another H2W horse listed in the same race (an asterisk appears when both horses were listed to complete the exacta). This week, there were 35 active horses on the H2W list.

    Winners

    Arrested Dreams, $14.80, $6.20, $5, Ocean
    Mistery Woman, $9.60, $3, $2.40, Pocono
    Pan Luis Obisop, $6, $4.30, $5 ok, Tioga
    Back To The West, $4.20, $2.60, $2.20, Yonkers
    Word Power, $4.20, $3, $2.60, Pocono
    Nf Happenstance, $3.30, $2.90, $2.50
    Lyonssomewhere, $3, $2.80, $2.40, Pocono
    Jk Endofanera, $2.50, $2.20, $2.10, Tioga
    Jolene Jolene, $2.10, $2.10, ok/ns, Tioga

    Seconds

    Crazy Wow, $4.40, $3.90, Tioga
    Jitterbug Hanover, $2.80, $2.60, Scarborough
    Father Patrick, nps, Tioga

    Thirds

    Head Of The Barn, $4.60, Scioto
    Whitesville Ted, $2.80, Ocean
    Winmando, $2.20, Ocean

    News And Notes

    Returning from an eight-month layoff after being treated for a knee fracture, I Luv The Nitelife, now four, finished fifth in a fillies-and-mares pacing event at Mohawk on Aug. 15. She was sent to the top by driver Jack Moiseyev and set quick fractions. After a 1:23.3 three-quarters 35-1 Hope For Paddy challenged her. That one passed “Nitelife” and held off a closing American In Paris (which finished second). Nitelife faded to finish behind four others in the seven-mare field (a $27,000 event).

    The newest harness track, Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway, is set to open in October. The track operates in lieu of Raceway Park, the Toledo half-mile that closed last season when Penn National Gaming, Inc. purchased the facility and received permission to move the track so it is part of a new Ohio casino spread. The five-eighths oval has a ship-in barn for horses that will race Mondays and Wednesdays through Saturdays through Dec. 27 in 2014. In 2015, Dayton plans to open after Labor Day to race through the end of the year.

    Yonkers Raceway has received approval from the New York State Gaming Commission to conduct a half-dozen Sunday matinee cards—from Nov. 9 through Dec. 14, inclusive—as part of a new wagering relationship with the French pari-mutuel agencies. The races are to be televised and wagered on through much of Europe. First post of these trotting-dominated programs is scheduled for 11 a.m. ET, with more information regarding field sizes and race distances as it becomes available. Six Sunday cards replace five Tuesday evenings (Nov. 11 through Dec. 9, inclusive) on the live schedule.

    On the night of the Carl Milstein at Northfield, trainer Mark Headworth had three of his students racing in three different events on the card. In Race 3 his horse won and paid $12.40; in Race 12 his horse lost at 8-1; in Race 14 his horse won and paid $49.20. Keep Mark in mind as a trainer to watch. You won’t hear about him from the track publicists or handicappers because they are calculating top trainers by raw wins, not win percentages or win prices.

    It was tough going for Illinois’ hottest harness fair in Springfield recently when a precautionary quarantine affected horses and the usual racing schedule was disrupted with cancellations. Thirty-three horses were isolated based on a horse having shared barn space at Balmoral with a horse showing symptoms of equine herpes virus. State officials took measures to prevent any possible spread of the equine herpes. While being tested, the opening programs of the harness meet were cancelled. Bad weather also contributed to nixing cards. When the horse in question was tested and the results were negative, Springfield continued its fair meet.

    Extraordinary Extras

    Indulge in many standardbred topics at my Hoof Beats blog titled Vast Performances.

    Ray Cotolo contributed to this blog

    Cartoons by Thom Pye ~ For more Thom Pye cartoons and products, click here