Cotolo’s Harness-Weekend Review, 3-28-11With good news circulating about the survival of the Meadowlands came a sweeping run on favorites in the final weekend before the hiatus. Sure, there were some wild priced winners here and there but only when the public choices met circumstances that were too challenging for them to overcome.
Meanwhile, on the left coast, the Cal-Expo latest quartet of standardbreds making up the races in the no-takeout late Pick 4 every Saturday, were a cool blend of public choices and mistakes.
From past contenders in our campaign to hit the Pick 4 came a clear winner we had included in past tickets for the exotic recently. On Saturday, March 26, El Grande Real got the trip we hoped for and won fair and square (the favorite raced evenly but was clearly not the best and not in trouble), paying $43.40.
In the Pick 4 we handed you half of the winning combination, with a generously priced Heelwin taking the first leg at $12.60 and an obvious choice in the last leg, Nikoleta, paying $5.60.
Yonkers, where the pacing parade brought horses and mares to major spring series, the public choices were strong and delivered. Our only choice contender was Starspangledpanner in a division of the Sagamore Hill and we never expected him to have such a strong backing.
Our “Levy” choices were all in the mix but not in the winner’s circle. In fact, the only top choice we endorsed, River Shark, wound up third to a 7-2 shot, the highest paying Levy winner of the series’ sextet that night.
Rounding up our suggestions, Go Go Solano finished second (exacta with favorite was $16.80); Blueridge Western took the place (exacta with favorite was $6.50); Real Nice was third. The Mohegan Sun, a horse we are still watching, broke and was eliminated.
The Prix d’Amerique winner, Real Cash, is slated to be among the field of the 2011 Breeders Crown as of this writing. From France, where Real Cash has been a local sensation, comes another trotter, Rapide Lebel, a six-year-old that just won his ninth-straight race at Vincennes.
He traversed the 1 11/16-miles event on March 26 in 1:55.4 as the 1-5 choice. He won the race despite getting rough-gaited, according to reports, twice. His trainer is Sebastian Guarto, who may be looking at meeting Real Cash and other top aged trotters in Canada for the “Crown.” The trotter goes to Sweden next, in search of his 10th-straight win.
Trond Smedshammer’s Arch Madness made his 2011 debut on March 25, winning at 5-2 in an Open Handicap Trot. Trond held the reins to win in 1:53.4 at Chester Downs. “Arch” is seven and should be a major contender in the division’s battles that will lead to the Crown.
Another veteran trotter, Corleone Kosmos, qualified in Florida recently. He has not been on the track since July 2010. He has been plagued with physical problems. Tom Haughton is handling the nine-year-old. We’ll keep an eye on his progress, as he may have a lot of muscle left for racing.
Woodbine has made a slight change in post times. Until the meet’s end on May 16, the first race will begin at 7:30 p.m. (EST), 20 minutes later than before, except for Mondays, which remain at 7:10 p.m.
(Cartoon by Thom Pye)