• Big-Purse Prizes On The Line

    POSTED May 25, 2011
    It’s a weekend of high stakes, to say the least, for a few divisions and across the continent. Let’s get right to the action, looking for the possible upsets, the overlooked contenders, the horses that make our purses larger.

    Cal Expo and the Meadowlands are the tracks in the third and last qualifying round of the National Harness Handicapping Championship. Click here for all information.

    Since it is a holiday weekend, look for updates on Sunday and Monday racing at our Facebook page and by following our tweets.

    Also, remember to check our exclusive blog addition, The Hambletonian Trail, to follow the soph colt and filly trotters eligible to the August classics.

    ‘Jersey’ Boys And Girls

    New Jersey-sired glamour-boy pacers and their female counterparts are back at the Meadowlands in the New Jersey Classic and Miss New Jersey finals.

    In the $400,000 New Jersey Classic final, the majority of bettors will turn to world- champion Big Jim, installed the 8-5 morning-line favorite.

    Big Jim debuted at three last week with a 1:51.4 romp in the prep for “Classic” last week. Driver Phil Hudon said, “He was well in hand. I didn't want to rev him up too much late. I was just sitting on him. He finished up good and I think he'll have a good year.”

    At the end of 2010, we liked his biggest foe, Shadyshark Hanover, a bit better, proposing that he would mature more at three and improve.

    “He's the odd horse who steps on to the track and goes a mile or two before he starts bucking and playing,” said his trainer, Erv Miller when talking to the Meadowland’s Amy Silver. 

    “Shadyshark” is the second choice from the rail in the Classic. Shadyshark romped to a 1:51.3 victory in his 2011 debut, an overnight race at Harrah's Chester, last Saturday.

    "He was never really asked last week," Miller said. “His debut was excellent. The way he was put away at two is the way he's come back at three. He's a very, very good horse. He was already a big colt at two and he's grown into himself.”

    We need to be convinced that Big Jim is better and will try to beat him with Shadyshark. Plus, we have a few outsiders to watch.  Grams Legacy is one choice. He made a huge close and finished second, almost beating “Jim.” Also watch Lizard King. He was passed while closing in on the leaders. He will be dangerous if circumstances give him a clearer path late.

    In the $150,000 Miss New Jersey Final, the favorite could be Krispy Apple, based upon her Miss New Jersey prep victory. With “Apple” the favorite, I Kill Time would be the best choice for value. She moves to the rail after a second-over trip in the prep, behind Pretty Katherine, and had to settle for fourth from the 7 post.

    Big Northern Stakes

    Saturday, at Western Fair in Canada, the premier race of the track’s season, Molson Pace Final, brings together a top field of older pacers, featuring many we have been covering all year. It is hard to deny Foiled Again yet another stakes victory but we have to look elsewhere if we are to address any good win price in this race.

    Let’s take a show with the event’s defending champ, Aracache Hanover. In this field he will be sent off at very good odds. He got into the final racing tough from the outside and last year won the event after stumbling at the start, an incident that would have excused any number of other horses. A horse for the course and the event, he is worth a shot to defeat the mighty “Foiled” here.

    At Georgian Downs in Canada, older trotters go in splits for big money. In the Earl Rowe silver division, there is no clear favorite. But one to watch is Il Villaggio. He had practically no three-year-old season due to injury and he may show his best at four.

    In the gold division, Slave Dream will be the likely choice but one of our choices from last season is the talented Triumphant Caviar. He has been doing well in preferred company and could be ready to graduate and show his maturity.

    There is a half-million dollars for province-bred soph pacers on the line in the Upper Canada Cup at Georgian, also. We are interested in Prodigal Seelster. He could be very strong at three, certainly among his ilk in Ontario.

    ‘Patch’ Pick 

    In the $200,000 Dan Patch Invitational at Hoosier Park, Allthatgltrsisgold will be the likely “local” favorite in this mile for older pacers. But Hypnotic Blue Chip may have the best shot of all. He had broken equipment in the Graduate, but before that, he paced well.

    Cal Exotic

    Saturday night, May 28, it’s time to aim again for a big payout in the no-takeout Pick 4 at Cal Expo from Race 11 through Race 14. Our first leg is a trot, the others are paces.

    Race 11
    (1) Foxy Lady De Vie just missed as the choice last out. This group of trotters compete often, so going deeper than usual here makes sense. (4) Franks Best closed well to win and is smoothly gaited to do it again. (7) Giles LS Hanover won last out and did it taking on the outer flow first over; impressive.

    Race 12
    (1) Jeano tossed in a real bad race and may be overlooked because of it. Either way, it is tough to leave ‘em out of this uneven bunch. (4) Gorgeous Forever also fell to sleep as the choice last time and must be given another shot, hopefully at a price.

    Race 13
    (5) Cinnamon was parked for two calls last out and should get a better go of it here. (7) Tutiming Gal got second after struggling on the outside in a charge that got started too late.

    Race 14
    (5) Jill’s Sooter would be a strange single on any occasion but here is a field with poor recent credentials. “Sooter” left strongly last out and an early duel cost ‘em the race. So a good race could be a winning race and nail a decent payoff for the exotic.

    If you want to use all of these, the 147/14/57/5 ticket cost $12 ($1 ticket).

    (Ray Cotolo assisted in this edition.)

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