• Act Three For Harness Season 2011

    POSTED Nov 2, 2011
    It may all come down to the Breeders Crown but the harness stakes season ensues through November with major events. Fall’s four-frosh stakes for both gaits and sexes holds elims this week for next week’s finals at Chester. The Matrons get underway at Dover Downs, now open through April. And there are still American-Nationals in the wings, as well as Indiana’s big ‘Derby’ card this weekend.  

    Plus, we return this edition to the Cal Expo no-takeout Pick 4, a Saturday event we neglected over the past two weeks for space to cover the Breeders Crown. Though the horse racing world focuses on the day at the races with the Breeders’ Cup, harness still rules the evening with big names and classy standardbreds. It can be one big day and night of wagering for TwinSpires players.  

    Matron Elims

    The last stakes series of the season are the Matron Stakes, covering all divisions and including the Progress Pace, Dover Downs’ exclusive theater for glamour-boy pacers. This one-time Florida cavalcade of stakes that brought in the winter season as horsemen headed south for training, is a Dover fixture now and features a lot of the faces we covered in the “Crown.” For a lot of two- and three-year-olds, the year is not over.  

    Saturday, Nov. 5, Dover hosts Matron elims for freshmen of both gaits and sexes, beginning with Race 1 for filly trotters. Who wants to try to beat Check Me Out? Not us. This is a pass since she is meeting far less competition than in the Crown, where she jogged.  

    Race 2 presents the first of a pair for colt trotters, with our eyes on Delano. He was third at more than 80-1 in the Crown final he scratched into last week. He can beat the hot Gym Tan Laundry, the horse that rebounded to break a track record the week after we supported him here.  

    Race 6 is for filly pacers. The public choice is Destiny’s Chance, the same horse we scored with at Lexington when she paid $63. We don’t want her as the favorite, so we pass on this one.  

    In Race 7, another split for filly trotters, take Chocolatta De Vie as the outsider here. In Race 8 for colt pacers, Linda Toscano’s Forever Just could be the real thing. Her barn is hot and this is a good-gaited Bettor’s Delight-sired colt.  

    Matron elims for sophomores (both gaits and sexes) are the Sunday, Nov. 6 features along with a pair of elims for the Progress Pace.   

    Soph-filly trotters from the Crown fields are the characters in Race 1. Want to try to beat Cedar Dove? Stay with Pantholops even if you box this exacta. Don’t give up on this filly yet.

    Race 6 is for soph filly pacers, with Drop The Ball looking for redemption. She lost the Crown? Yes she did and it makes her vulnerable to Foxy Lady and Myluvmylife. That could be the triple, give or take a placing.

    Race 7 is the Hambo crew at each other’s necks again, with a few usual suspects missing and a few returning. Chapter Seven will be a giant favorite. Broad Bahn looks well enough again to take some money. But Magnum Kosmos is back and is a danger to control the fractions from the inside to pull up a big upset.   

    Seven go in Race 8, the first “Progress” elim. It’s our pals the glamour-boy pacers again, led here by Westwardho Hanover and Alsace Hanover, hot off Crown placing. Can Powerful Mist finally prove what we have thought all along? He is just as good as the aforementioned, just not the product of luck. So let’s take him at a price here.  

    Race 10 offers the second Progress crew, eight colts with questions orbiting all of their performances. But Custard The Dragon is tons better than anything here, even with his questionable few short miles. I don’t know what happened to Fashion Delight in the Crown but I still think he is peaking as he heads to a four-year-old campaign and I would not be surprised if he pops here as well, at long odds again.  

    Midwest Milieu

    Indiana Downs has two big features: The Oliver Trotting Classic ($231,500) for glamour-boys and the $205,000 Indiana Pacing Derby FFA.  

    The “Oliver” brings together some of the Hambo-eligible fellas that experienced some success along the trail to this year’s August classic. After the event we had our eye on Live Jazz. Scott Andrews’ colt seemed to have a few gallons in his tank yet to be used. Now, he shows up here with John Campbell, his owner, driving, and although he leaves from post 9 he should certainly be worth a wager with this group and with owner John at the reins.  

    The “Derby” looks like an FFA from January’s Meadowlands program. Foiled Again, the stalwart pacer that has ravaged every field this season, is here to take on some horses he left behind as this division paraded through higher stakes. He is fresh off being in the top three in the Crown final and regular driver Yannick Gingras (pictured left) has come to drive. It could be a pass based on this being so obvious that he will be the utter choice of the public but that is up to you; he will be difficult to defeat here.  

    Fall Final Four

    Freshmen are poised to turn three and before they do, each division takes a stab at one of the Fall Final Four—The Valley Victory (colt trotters), The Goldsmith Maid (filly trotters), The Three Diamonds (filly pacers) and The Governors Cup (colt pacers). On Sunday, Nov. 6, Chester Downs holds the elims for three of these November classics (the “Diamonds” goes straight to a final) that were once a staple of the ill-fated Garden State Park harness season.  

    There are three Governors Cup elims, each with a streamlined field of six. A Rocknroll Dance forces a pass for us in elim one. He may not have won the Crown but he is far better than the other five here. In elim two, Joe Holloway’s Escape The News meets foes he can handle and might offer a price. In elim three, Verdad will shoot from the rail and most likely wire this crew.   

    In the “Victory” elims, there are only five to a field in a pair of contests. Vic Smith causes a pass for us in the first test, while we shoot for an upset of Possess The Will, taking Quit Smoking Now.  

    The “Maid” pair presents us with a play on Fancy in round one. But Win Missy B will probably go off way too low to bet for or against in round two.  

    Cal Exotic

    Let’s get back to our campaign to score with a no-takeout late Pick 4 at Cal Expo for Nov. 5 Remember to use the best-valued members of this ticket (3-1 and up, for instance) as win bets.  

    Leg 1
    (3) Wrangler Reward finished third at 9-1 and was gaining ground through the mile. A better position early can do the job. (4) Nightscreamer is a regular player around these parts and his second-place finish last week at 6-1 was a warning for this meet.   

    Leg 2
    (1) RW Island Spirit had a bad start last week and made up a lot of ground to finish fourth anyway. A little luck along the way from the inside and he can whip this weak field.  

    Leg 3
    (1) Axelrod just missed while well supported and the rail can give him a boost in this battle. (5) The Ridge was forced to move first over to challenge and though it hurt him it was a promising effort at 21-1. (9) Thouartthegreatest did well from post 8 at 9-1 and cannot be ignored here.  

    Leg 4
    (5) Muzhik Hanover has only to race like last week with a bit more courage late and prove to be a great single and cap the win on this ticket.  

    The ticket: 3,4/1/1,5,9/5 = $12 for $2  

     (Ray Cotolo assisted in this edition.)  
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