So Saturday, July 23 is filled with races Mohawk hosts a number of province-bred finals and top stakes for older pacers and trotters. You can get 2x points for playing the Mohawk card through TwinSpires that night. Many of the top horses from both sexes and gaits will be cutting through muggy heatwaves during what meteorologists have predicted will be the hottest weekend of the year up and down the east coast.
Aside from this blog, other weekend features, those for glamour-boy-and-girl trotters, are analyzed at our Hambletonian Trail blog and the Hambletonian Society’s exclusive coverage of both divisions of eligibles as the August classics loom boldly.
TwinSpires will offer a Players Pool for Hambletonian day, where we will be reporting live with tweets and blog items, giving you up-to-the-minute wagering suggestions from “the inside.” Watch this blog for the exciting Pick-4 Players Pool details, coming soon.
Two of trainer George Teague’s Meadowlands Pace (MP) characters show up in the first elim. Certainly, the public won’t deny Wink N Atcha, who picked up some magnificent checks in recent weeks. Feel Like A Fool can also rebound from a disappointing mile in that field. Driver Brian Sears thought so highly of “Fool” in the MP final that he got off of Roll With Joe to drive Fool. “Joe” won the MP.
The only other national figure here is Rollwithmeharry, Jimmy Takter’s student, who cannot be counted out in any of the exotics, at least.
In the second elim, Alsace Hanover will likely be the favorite. The horse that may get less action than it should is Pan From Nantucket. He has raced all around Pennsylvania and at the Meadows in Pennsylvania Sires Stakes.
In the final elim, Powerful Mist could come up the favorite; his fifth-place effort in the MP was less than expected but there is no doubt he is a top figure in this talented crop. But the horse that may get some action is Custard The Dragon. He was used hard in the MP, making two moves. If he gets an easy trip, he could finish strong.
In the Maple Leaf Trot Final, all eyes will be on three horses. World-champion Arch Madness, two-time “Trot” winner San Pail and Trot prep-winner Lucky Jim. Lately, “Madness” has been the cream of this crop, a division dominator, and if he races here as he did in recent weeks it will take divine intervention to defeat him.
But Il Villaggio, the one-time Hambo hopeful whose soph career was spoiled by an early season injury, has come back and is racing well at four. He is tough to assess against these veterans of FFA wars but his most recent race will attract him to many bettors.
It was a 7 ½-length victory in 1:51.3 that equaled the Mohawk track record and the Canadian record for older trotting males (that was set last August by another competitor in this field, Triumphant Caviar). He draws the 1 post this week, giving him a chance to leave the gate.
Trainer Blair Burgess said that mile took nothing out of the colt. “It sharpened him up and stretched him out a bit for the [Maple Leaf Trot]. We really hadn’t had an opportunity yet this year to get him stretched out like that and use his speed. That was his first opportunity to trot along like he can.”
In the Roses Are Red Final, also on the Saturday card, bettors’ money will be on Dreamfair Eternal and Laughandbehappy to win. The former is a hometown favorite that is always in the picture and the latter is a horse we wrote off after a bad few Meadowlands races but she has come back with a vengeance in the Great White North.
However, after her sixth-place effort at 34-1, Rock N Soul will be the outsider with a good shot at an upset. In her elimination, she went a final quarter in :25.3. If she can make a huge close like that again, and it is highly possible, she may win.
In another evening feature, the Armbro Flight Final gathers mare trotters with strong credentials. The public focus should be on defending champion Buck I St Pat, who returns to her own division after battling the older trotting males.
But coming out of a different elimination is our horse to watch, Southwind Wasabi. She was behind 20 lengths and regained 19 in that mile. If she is not too far back, she may go right by this field. She has beaten many of these mares before.
At Northfield Park in Ohio, one of the area’s top events, the Battle of Lake Erie, brings together older pacers on the brisk half-mile track.
Considering the oval size, expect a lot of money to go for Foiled Again, who was the early season sensation at Yonkers. As well, Hypnotic Blue Chip will be an attraction for action.
A horse that may get less play in this group is Fire On The Water. He beat the likes of Upfront Hoosierboy and Southwind Lynx in a Preferred at Mohawk. He may do as well on the half mile as he did on the seven-eighths.
At Hazel Park in Michigan, soph-colt trotters meet in the William Connors Memorial Final. Of the glamour-boy sextet there is one colt eligible to the Hambletonian, E L Rock. He is two wins for six starts and will not be the choice here. That status mostly likely will go to Turtle Express, the top money-earner in the small field this season.
Beware of Che from the rail. The Paul Kennedy-trained trotter could take full advantage of the inside post and win by default, going smoothly from wire to wire and possibly making the wealthier horses take a longer route which could cause them to run or just come up short.
Follow me on Twitter for updates down to the last minute.
(Ray Cotolo assisted in this edition.)
Welcome to the TwinSpires Blog. Our contributors will be continually updating posts to offer commentary, insight, advice and expert opinions on horse racing and wagering. The goal is to help you win more and become a better all around horse player.
TwinSpires' horse racing author, handicapper, and podcast host, Derek Simon of Denver, Colo. offers his insightful, humorous and sometimes controversial take on the horse racing industry. He even publishes the ROI on the picks he gives out.
TwinSpires' harness racing expert, Frank Cotolo follows all of the big North American circuits throughout the year, providing the best value picks and latest news from the sulky.
The Director of Marketing for Bloodstock Research Information Services (BRIS) and a lifelong Thoroughbred racing enthusiast and astute handicapper, Ed joined Churchill Downs Inc. following nine years as a writer and editor with Thoroughbred Times.
A writer and editor who has been following horse racing for fifteen years. Peter has written books for the Daily Racing Form Press; Crown; and Simon and Schuster; among other publishers, and regular features in The Horseplayer Magazine.
A television racing analyst for Churchill Downs, Jill has earned acclaim and a loyal audience throughout Thoroughbred racing.