• Cotolo’s Harness-Weekend Review, 6-20-11

    POSTED Jun 19, 2011
    Proof of my assessment of this season’s sophomore-colt pacing crop was displayed in $1.5-million North America Cup on June 18 at Mohawk Raceway. Not only is the talent deep but it appears there is a certain equality to the abilities of the top rung.

    When Up The Credit won the event, exactly as we forecasted (though it was not our choice), the time for the mile shone at 1:49.3. This was not the mark of a dominant member of the division. Run this race a hundred times and any of the other choices would have won.

    “Credit” only paid $6.60. In the field, the wagering reflected the equality of this bunch. Big Bad John, the “now” horse, was the favorite at 9-5; Shadyshark Hanover (our choice) was the third choice at 4-1; Big Jim, finishing third, was 5-1. Then the wagering went, 12-1, 12-1, 32-1, 59-1, 77-1, 92-1. And those final four were arguably underlays.

    The “Consolation” definitely highlighted the next tier of talent in the division, though I would not toss any of these guys out just yet. The 4-1 winner, Bestofbest Hanover, beat a poor field. Even the highly hyped Mystician, the second public choice, only took second with a strain.

    Our choice, Townslight Hanover, was flat in the stretch as were most of the horses all night who tried to gather a challenge being further back than third at three-quarters. That is not an excuse for either of our choices; it just means that we cannot hold too much against a lot of the colts trying to pace late in either of these events. Until a colt proves dominance, we will watch this crop closely, as overlays will surface in future events.

    In our plus column the past week we handed out the Fan Hanover Consolation winner, as Honkey Tonk Woman finally got to the finish line first at $7.50. Then, at Cal Expo, in June 18’s no-takeout Pick 4, we hit three of four. Strangely, the leg we missed, leg four, had an usual three horses going in it and that is the leg that took us out of it. Meanwhile, Code Blue won and paid $17.40, Mr. Avalanche won, paying $8.60 and Gorgeous Forever, a single, won at $4.80.

    As for the glamour-boy-and-girl trotters, our exclusive Hambletonian Trail blog continues to pump out sharp winners and contenders. Follow the analysis’s there and the reviews, results and archives at the Hambletonian Society home page.

    Harness News

    See You At Peelers won her 18th-straight race in the Fan Hanover Final, cracking a stakes record to boot. No one in the soph-filly-pace division has come near to defeating her and she beat a field of boys, albeit a soft field, in the “Rooney.” Trainer Jimmy Takter is aiming her for the Little BrownJug, to battle the boys in heats, no less. This is great for the sport, even though fillies beating colts in harness racing is not the hoopla it is in thoroughbred racing. With the colt division showing no signs of kneeling to a single member yet, “Peelers” is in the perfect position to shine against the boys in a major event. How she preps through a heavy-duty schedule of stakes before September’s Ohio fair will tell a few tales. But if she goes into the “Jug” undefeated, all bets on the boys are off, even if one of them is showing better than the others.

    The anticipation for the next glamour-boy soph pace, the $1-million Meadowlands Pace in July, has already begun. However, the future-book choice, Big Jim, is not on top any longer, given, as we mentioned, the versatility of this group so far in 2011. Also, another high-profile colt from last season’s frosh crop, Fashion Delight, is yet to be heard from in a major event. Mystic Desire is still to battle and Feel Like A Fool is on a good path to improve.

    We’ll be scooping the division and making all we can from its less-than-appreciated members as the season ensues. There is a hunk of stakes remaining and a lot of betting to be done, so stay with us at the blogs, at Facebook and follow me at Twitter for racing tweets and thoughts that give you pause.

    Cartoon by Thom Pye

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