• Pacers And Trotters Parade In Summer Stakes Feast

    POSTED Jul 27, 2011
    This weekend and next weekend congeal to become the center of the stakes season. Old and young, the harness racing world is on its toes, with noses to the grindstone, studying the past performances. The menu is thick as July bows out to the classic hoof beats of August.  

    Friday, July 29, the cherished Peter Haughton Memorial offers elims for many of next year’s glamour-boy trotters. For the gals on the square gait, there are two elims for the Merrie Annabelle. A sextet of Open mare trotters prep for the Lady Versatility, too.  

    Saturday, July 30, the splits hit the fan, so to speak, when elims and finals are strewn across the evening’s offerings. The glamour boys on both gaits are in full regalia jousting for fame and fortune in The Adios Pace at the Meadows and the Hambletonian elims at the Meadowlands (the gal trotters go in “Oaks” elims).  

    Real-Time Action

    On Saturday night we will be closely monitoring the Hambo and Oaks elims, filing industry stories after the races. We will also be tweeting and blogging any and all updates available through the Hambletonian Trail blog, as well as on Twitter. While you are following the action on TwinSpires, keep some windows open for all the extras.  

    Starting Monday, Aug. 1, we will be offering the TwinSpires Players Pool for Hambletonian day. Watch for all the details on how to participate in the day’s wagering, including a $100,000-guaranteed Pick 4. On that day, Aug. 6, we will be at the Meadowlands covering all the day’s stakes action live from the press box and in the paddock with the horsemen. It is exclusive material that you can follow every way you follow the TwinSpires feeds. More about that will be explained in our Weekly Update, Monday, Aug. 1.  

    Aside from this blog and the Hambo Trail, archives for all of our coverage leading up to the August classics appear on the Hambletonian Society’s web site.


    The Adios Pace has got to belong to trainer George Teague’s Custard The Dragon. He was used hard in the Meadowlands Pace, making two moves and came back to set a record on the Meadows’ five-eighths track and win his Adios elim with ease. He drew the rail in the final and there is no reason to believe he isn’t going to fire. Remember that the Meadows’ Adios card is an afternoon program.  

    There is a $50,000 Adios Consolation, with seven going to post. It’s a wide-open field and yet the other Teague colt, Feel Like A Fool, could go all the way despite his disappointing season so far. There are a few colts in here we have followed and suggested in the past month but the bit of class “Fool” has on his side and the current rampage that team Teague is displaying could be enough to wake this guy up at a price.  

     ‘Haughton’ Headliners

     The frosh trotters traverse in two elims for the Peter Haughton Memorial on July 29 at the Meadowlands in search of stardom as they start on their long journeys to possible stardom. It is from this race the sport establishes next year’s Hambo choice with tepid testimony from past winners.  

    In the first elim, trot-master Jimmy Takter (pictured) sends out two from his team of youngsters, one from the first racing crop of Donato Hanover, Weingartner (named for harness-writer extraordinaire Ken). Trainer Jim Campbell’s “Donato” product, Possess The Will, however, should get the most money. We lean toward the Chocolatier youngster, Duluth, who has every right to improve for team Ackerman.  

    Also in the mix should be Yankee Royalty. He won from the outside in the Tompkins-Geers and was hung in a conditioned event. He should be on the board if he does not have to work hard for the lead.  

    Next, the morning-line choice is a maiden, the Millers’ Power Play, also from the Donato crop. His qualifier was faster than all the actual races performed by the others, making another choice difficult to stick. You take a look at some value with Campbell’s Map Of Hawaii, a Chocolatier that could be a surprise here. Takter’s two entries will get played on his account, leaving “Map” decent odds.  

    Also, expect high odds on Big Chocolate (Chocolatier). He was second at 32-1 in a New Jersey Sires Stakes and was third in the first leg. He may do better this week from the inside.  

    ‘Merrie’ Belles

    The frosh femmes of square-stepping also have a pair of elims to battle for berths in the Merrie Annabelle on the same program. In the first split, Miss Paris demands respect. She is blue-blooded and primed for showing her pretty pedigree (Kadabra-Pizza Dolce) is aimed at the big dollars in her second start.  

    Another horse to watch is Aunt Mel. She went first over in her last mile and started on the outside. This week she has the inside, which may help.  

    In round two, Ray Schnittker has another undefeated filly that is not in the mood for losing yet. Check Me Out (another Donato) should be the favorite but Sculpted Vanity is two for three. Linda Toscano’s filly has a better shot than her morning line of 8-1.  

    Keep an eye on the betting for Win Missy B. She beat many of the horses in here in a two-year-old filly Open. She has the rail, which may help.  

    Only seven pacing soph fillies experience a single prep for the Mistletoe Shalee on July 30. Wonder-gal See You At Peelers was never eligible to this classy stake, so the role of favorite defaults to Pretty Katherine. However, Drop The Ball comes back to fight in her own division after failing with the boys and she could get some heavy action, as well as Krispy Apple will share in the win money. So keep your eyes on that toteboard, the true overlay won’t rear her lovely head until the final moments of wagering.  

    An upset shot needs to be handed to Idyllic. She was runner-up to pacing superstar See You At Peelers at the Meadowlands last week. She may be ready to take on this field.  

    Ancillary Antics

    The Miss Versatility presents mare trotters, the thinnest division, with a small cast of six in a prep for next week’s final at the Meadowlands. After her resounding victory at Mohawk last week at more than 25-1, the highly under-rated Action Broadway will not be overlooked here. We have been talking about her since the Grand Circuit meet last yeat at The Red Mile, when we delivered her to you as an upset winner. Last week even we dismissed her in Canada’s Armbro Flight and she made mince meat of the top femmes around, including Buck I St Pat. So in this mile she jogs, though nowhere near that 25-1 she last paid.   

    Follow me on Twitter for updates down to the last minute.  

     (Ray Cotolo assisted in this edition.)

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