• New Meadowlands, Hot Harness For Winter

    POSTED Jan 4, 2012
    All eyes are on the new, privately owned Meadowlands, as Friday, Jan. 6 marks the debut of the track with more than new owners—there is literally a new surface.  

    Also, our Watch List (H2W) is already overflowing with profit, having scored some good win prices recently. We will continue with more prospects. 

    Woodbine’s Willowdale pace hosts the first leg for four-year-old horses in two divisions as the winter series launch in the Great White North. 

    Also, there is a big announcement about racing at Yonkers. It’s an addendum to the information we presented in our update edition on Jan. 2. 

    The Big Banking M

    The mile track at the famous Meadowlands facility has changed. There have been banks shaped into the two-turned surface. Grading was restored in autumn, hoping to “spur more competitive racing.”  

    After qualifiers presented horses and horsemen their first trips over the new surface, comments flew.

    “The track was lightning fast,” said regular driver Andy Miller. He further said he thinks the banking “should enable the outside horses to be much more competitive.”

    After the first 20 qualifiers were held, there were more opinions on how the new surface will play. What can a handicapper make of these opinions? Does anyone know if the new banks will benefit speed or closers or mid-pack ground-savers? I doubt it.   

    Though the banks will have some affect on all styles of racing, too many other generic factors exist to assure any one style will benefit. Climate will play a role in any bias, as will a plethora of elements beyond a handicapper’s control. Even though harness racing is very formful, subtle circumstances will control how the banks play.  

    But how should you play? That is the main question. 

    I say do not to do a thing differently handicapping Meadowlands races. Ignore the presence of the banks. Let the drivers deal with them. Keep finding the best contenders based on all of the usual elements and then wager upon horses that offer more money than I believe they have chances.  

    As usual, we will assist. An H2W list for the Meadowlands will be shared in these blogs. We are going to continue to monitor trips closely and look for horses with fair odds, as well as we will pass races that do not clearly offer you overlays.


    Saturday, Jan. 7, Woodbine offers a look at some recently turned four-year-olds in two $30,000 divisions of the Willowdale series’ first leg. Most of these pacers have come into this series with no hiatus; they simply changed age like all racehorses on Jan. 1. 

    In the first division, we stick with Audreys Dream, who was second in the season’s final stakes at the track in December. Along with Fox Valley Yukon, which may be the overlay, the duo could produce a reasonable exactor. 

    In the second split, Westwardho Hanover will be bet to smithereens, even though it appears he may be on a downward trend since losing his final race of 2011. Mystician should take to a four-year-old season with more spark than as a sophomore and could go off at decent odds here to beat the obvious choice. Also beware of Prana, who showed some promise at three and may be ready to make that into major talent at four.

    Cal Exotic

    The no-takeout Pick 4 continues on Jan. 7 at the California mile. Here are our suggested contenders with comments:

    Leg 1
    Math Wiz (7) had an easy go of it, winning off a perfect trip but may have more to show with a tougher trip or just come right back off of that win.

    Leg 2
    Know The Pro (1) was third at 23-1 in a race where the calls were clouded by heavy fog. Still, this guy is a staunch regular and always trouble. Meanwhile, Nightscreamer (7) put in a rare clunker as one of the top choices last out; he can be forgiven and used here.

    Leg 3
    Jane The Brain (2) has been knocking at the door for a win at high odds and need be respected here at any price. Elegant Emma N (4) was hung early and used; a better trip gets her a piece, if not all, of the top prize.

    Leg 4
    Shalana (6) is the strong outside contender in a field where the top two choices are probably the beaten favorites in their last affairs.

    Harness News

    According to track publicist Frank Drucker, “When Yonkers Raceway returns for 2012, flat-mile racing does, too.”  

    The raceway announced that all races are going back to the single-mile format. Yonkers offered 1 1/16-miles races since February 2011 but only for overnight events. The featured events, such as the early ‘12 series, the Petticoat and Sagamore Hill Pacing Series, and all that follow were always presented at the traditional mile.

    There is no indication that this has anything to do with the new Meadowlands track, though the announcement comes on the week the refurbished New Jersey track opens with a new surface and a lot of controversy from horsemen about how the track will play (see text above).
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