• Cotolo’s Harness Review

    POSTED Nov 20, 2011
    It was a hangover week, as I like to call it, one of those late-autumn times after the Breeders Crown when all that is left for the stakes programs are a few events that rarely offer star-studded fields. Before this review, however, let’s go over a practice that continues to present success and will come in handy during the coming months dominated by overnight racing. 

    The problem with suggesting horses to play in any pari-mutuel theater is that most of the time those looking for advice say, “What have you done for me lately?” My contention with this question centers on the definition of “lately.” To a horseplayer, time is a zen-like property, making anything that matters immediate; winning, in other words, is only about what just happened. So, “lately,” as a concept, does not have enough of a time span to defend what may have been done for the audience. 

    This is why a player must keep good notes, as is especially important for TwinSpires harness-blog readers because we hand you immediate winners, and at good prices, but we also deliver winners with “time-release” effects. If you keep good notes and document some of our immediate losers, as well as horses we suggest you play to win even though they are on our Pick-4 tickets, you will find valuable wagers. Horses that win after they appear as suggested contenders in this blog or on our Twitter stream, can be worth the wait. 

    The situation arises again as we revived our ticket suggestions for the non-takeout late Pick 4 on Saturdays at Cal Expo. As we did last year, when we showed a profit for playing the combo by hitting only one Pick 4, we encourage players to follow our choices in the proposed tickets because they make for good win bets the next two times out. This past week two of our ticket participants returned to win at inflated prices. 

    Red Star Penny and Nightscreamer won on Nov. 18. The former paid $28.40 and the latter paid $13. This week our Pick-4 ticket offered one winner, Thouartthegreatest, paying $8.20 (we had this same horse two weeks back at $63). To watch from the Nov. 19 ticket, then, are Elegant Emma N, TJ Beach Poker and Bahama Bay Be.  

    We will emphasize horses to watch during the “off” season in this blog and follow up on their successes or failures. We encourage readers to keep the list handy as they peruse the past performances and wager at TwinSpires.  

    This past week the stakes action provided the hangover theme with events on a Friday night at Maywood. Betterthancheddar, arguably the soph-colt-pacing division winner among harness writers this year, faced a no-contest field at Maywood in the Windy City Pace and won for fun. We challenged with a speedy colt, Onhishonor Hanover, that did not turn on the gas and finished fifth at 25-1.  

    At 4-1 (third choice in the betting), we were second in the initial Galt Trot division with Fox Valley Iliad. He was already a horse to watch from our Hoof Beats assessments of weekend Pick 4s. The other Galt division found us third with Ooga Booga at 33-1. In that event, the favorite, at 50 cents to the dollar, went wire to wire. Put “Ooga” on the watch list (WL) at Maywood or Balmoral. 

    One horse we cannot make excuses for and which comes off the watch list is Dick Mctracy. He lost badly in the Abe Lincoln Trot and also loses our support this season. Although he came over the finish line 10th, he was part of an entry and paid for third place, where his entry mate finished.   

    In the Cinderella Pace, we wound up fourth with Mystical MJ at 10-1 (add to WL) and in the Lester Mckeever we were sixth with Big Daddy Woo Woo at 17-1. 

    Sunday, we suggested two Matron contenders in the soph-colt pace elims. These results were not available at press time. Check our Twitter page on Monday to find out how these two finished. 

    Harness News

    It is time to bid farewell to a number of horses from this season, as well as to anticipate the return of others. 

    First and foremost, we got an exclusive comment from trainer Chris Ryder that Put On A Show, the fabulous filly that scourged her division through the season and won the Breeders Crown at three but suffered duress at four, will return in 2012. Ryder said she is aimed at the Overbid Series at the Meadowlands in February.  

    Ryder also said the Charlie De Vie, a colt trotter this season that you read a lot about in our blogs along the Hambletonian Trail, was stricken with a disease later in the season and turned out. Ryder said that the trotter, who he admitted had gait problems, is a confident sort that would not others by once he took a lead. “Charlie” will return, according to his conditioner, in 2012 and agreed with us that he could be a much better older trotter than he was at three.  

    Crys Dream will be back if all goes well over the New Year month. But the most awaited could be Check Me Out, the frosh-filly trotter aimed at the Hambletonian. Check Me Out opened the 2011 Matron Stakes with a 1:53.2 world record by winning the $18,175 frosh- filly trot for trainer, co-owner Ray Schnittker. She broke in the final and made up 20 lengths to win anyway. Schnittker, aside from lobbying to make her Horse of the Year, says he has her aimed at the colts next year in the coveted Hambletonian.  

    Set to retire to stud are three that we know at press time. Roll With Joe competed well this year but did not dominate the contemptuous division members. He will take on stud duty at New York’s Blue Chip Farms.  

    Daylon Magician, the colt trotter from Canada that made the glamour-boy trotting division a more confusing group by winning top events, goes to Tara Hills Stud in Canada. He is a son of Kadabra, who also stands there. 

    (Exclusive cartoon by Thom Pye)
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