• Glamour Groups In The Spotlight

    POSTED May 18, 2011
    Three-year-old pacing stakes adorn the marquee this week for the first time of the season with the Max Hempt Final at Pocono and eliminations for the New Jersey Classic for colts and Miss New Jersey for fillies at the Meadowlands.

    The stalwart pacing horses head north to Western Fair where two elims for the track’s premier event, the Molson Pace, feature some of the season’s best, including the Graduate winner Foiled Again.

    And through the weekend keep your cursor clicking on the Hambletonian Trail as our exclusive blog follows the campaigns of two divisions battling for berths in the August classics.

    ‘Hempt’ Final

    On Saturday, May 21, Pocono Downs presents the $300,000 Max C. Hempt Final, with a field extracted from a single elimination event last week that was nothing less than mayhem. This week, there is no clear favorite due to last week’s massacre in the stretch, with several horses jumping and galloping.

    The morning-line favorite is Jimmy Takter’s Prana, who was tangled in the mess of breakers last week.

    Another one of the wild colts was Sharp West Hanover. He never had a real chance to race that mile; he was affected, as were others, from interference by Custard The Dragon and Dana’s Sharp Smart. “Sharp” draws the rail here and that should help, making him the outsider to watch.

    Powerful Mist could not perform in the cluster of confusion last week, either, and deserves a shot here. The elim ruined his three-race win streak, something he can start over here with a sharp effort (we think he is better than Prana, so watch the toteboard).

    These are not the forecasted stars of the glamour-boy pacers but one may emerge from a strong mile that is not marred by circumstance.

    Restricted Action

    New Jersey-sired glamour-boy pacers take to the track at the Meadowlands in the New Jersey Classic prep, the prelude to next week’s final. Nine colts will join Shadyshark Hanover on May 28 for the final.

    The public will most likely go heavily to support world-champion Big Jim. The frosh Breeders Crown winner is the fastest frosh pacer in history with a 1:49.1 mark, set in the Governor’s Cup at Woodbine. His connections are aiming him at the $1-million Meadowlands Pace in July.

    He will be hard to beat if he comes back at three with the power he displayed late last season. However, one that might be able to accomplish an upset is Lizard King. One of the top two-year-olds last year, his three-year-old campaign began with a rough start. He was a victim of interference in his first race and just lost in his second start.

    On May 20, the companion event, the Miss New Jersey prep, offers no clear favorite, though all eyes are on Pretty Katherine; she may be the public choice.

    But one that has a good chance at a good price is Krispy Apple. Debuting very late in her two-year-old campaign, she finished second in a Matron elim and won the final. After that, she won every start.

    Brewing Battles

    At Western Fair on Friday, May 20, there will be a pair of elims featuring older pacers; battles that will present the entries in next week’s Molson Pace Final.

    In the first Molson elim, the big money will be spread on two horses, Atochia and Art Professor.

    But one that may bring a price is Legal Litigator. He had some trouble at Yonkers (also a half-mile track) in the “Levy” and just lost an Open at Pocono but he might get the perfect trip in this, the weaker of the two events.

    The second elim may be considered the stronger since the headlining horse is Foiled Again. He is returning from a tight win in the Graduate at the Meadowlands, after he lost the Levy Final, which he won the two years before. No stranger to four turns, he will be tough to beat and tough to bet at a very low price.

    That is why Lucky Man is the horse to back in an upset. This guy loves the half mile; he set the world record last year at Delaware in the Winbak Pace.

    Ideal Race and defending-champ Aracache Hanover have the outside two posts and will have to work extra hard to get finish well enough to make the final. Early speed to make up for the post could ruin them and also set up the race for “Lucky” and Foiled Again.

    Cal Exotic

    Saturday night, May 21, we take on another challenge in the no-takeout Pick 4 at Cal Expo from Race 11 through Race 14. 

    Race 11
    (3) Whipped Dreams closed too late last out to win it all but might be blessed to come off a pace duel with the pair that has finished one-two as longshots the past two weeks. (6) Wide Screen brushed big on the outside, a move at 21-1 that might be the flare for a winning mile.

    Race 12
    (7) Franco Smoothie N made two strong moves before the stretch last week, only to finish fifth. A clean trip here seems to have him tower over this field.

    Race 13
    Three horses in this field come off of wins but (2) Cinnamon and (3) Art Of Arts appear to be in better spots to do the job.

    Race 14
    (7) Taxi Dancer took the laborious overland journey last week and got a piece of the pie, finishing fourth. Sailing clearly he looks tons the best of this motely crew.

    If you want to use all of these, the 36/7/23/7 ticket cost $4 ($1 ticket).

    (Ray Cotolo assisted in this edition.)
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