• Meadowlands August Classics On Tap

    POSTED Aug 1, 2012
    It is time for the first weekend in August, the traditional launching of the season’s second half, celebrated with some of the more ambitious stakes events to be collected on a single card. On Saturday, Aug. 4, the glamour-boy-and-girl trotters headline the international stage with the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks finals. 

    The full analysis of the Hambletonian Final is available on the blog where we have followed both divisions since the Grand Circuit began in May—on our exclusive Hambletonian Trail. The archived reports of all the eligibles’ performances in stakes since May, as well as the elims for Saturday’s classics, are at the Hambletonian Society.  

    All of the other stakes action on the program is covered below. We will be reporting and updating racing live from the Meadowlands on Aug. 4. Follow Twitter accounts @FrankCotolo and @RayCotolo and watch the TwinSpires and Hambletonian Trail blog throughout the card for on-the-spot info, late changes, betting news, etcetera. It’s exclusive for TwinSpires.  

    Also, the power-packed Aug. 4 Meadowlands program features the Super High 5 on the 15th (final) race of the program with a takeout of only 5 percent. 

    Co-stars Combined

    Friday, Aug. 3, the field of the $50,000 Townsend Ackerman is represented by Hambletonian eligibles that did not make it to the big dance. This will be a tough betting race in that four of the colts are coupled in one entry and three are coupled in another, with only three other betting entities.  

    Also, since Little Brown Fox is a member of the four-pronged group and he was a misfortunate elim breaker (while being the choice of many to win the final), it is a strange combination of elements. He would be the choice and would have been bet heavily even as his own betting interest. The break that took him out of his Hambo elim was circumstantial, not chronic, and he is the best of this group for sure.  

    Last year’s “Oaks”-eligibles, mostly, line up for the $73,000 Ima Lula Final. The versatile Cedar Dove is here off of her series win from post 11 after coming in second in leg one. She will be the public choice, as we estimate, and China Pearls will be close behind her in the betting, though that one was scratched for illness last week (we have no details about that). But Tui is an immediate danger here. She was on her way to a sweep but she broke late in leg two and could only get fifth. She will be a lot higher in the odds than she was then, making her the outside contender for us.  

    Stakes On Hambo Program

    Saturday’s cavalcade starts with the $30,000 Duenna for glamour-gal trotters. Most in this first of two divisions were Oaks eligibles. Chuck Sylvester’s Southwind Moni is as close as the veteran trainer will get to Hambo-day glory this year. Still, she could bring a decent price against this group since she has been racing better than her odds for a while.  

    Next, the $253,000 Lady Liberty produces mare-pacing free-for-allers of the first degree. A great shot at a long price would be Higher And Higher. She qualified well for this and is returning to the track where she was most productive. Trainer-driver Daryl Bier is responsible for her wins at the Meadowlands, where bettors stood clear from her due to his lack of fame. From the 10 hole you can be sure she will be a big price and she will be winging late to take down some of these popular names.

    The second Duenna field is next and we absolutely love Starglow Hall. Coming from the rich and competitive New York Sires Stakes, her recent trip on Batavia’s half-mile warrants attention. Certainly at 9-1 she would have won handily were it not for being three wide early and first over for two more calls. Chris Ryder trains this well-bred filly that could surprise foes here.

    The Miss New Jersey Final is next, worth $125,000 for soph-filly pacers bred in the Garden State. Rockaround Sue has been dynamic in her last three but will be a dead-on choice. Let her win at a low price. Take Blackjack Princess to upset, certainly at the price that should be offered. She made a bold move in the prep last week but was hung out to dry. A big mile awaits here, so why not on the big day?

    More Hambo-Program Stakes

    Freshmen filly pacers are the stars in this, their most lucrative event so far this season, the $286,300 Sweetheart Final. The top prospect will most likely be Shebesting but post 10 could be a problem. It is enough of a question to go shopping, especially since the rest of the big bets will go to Nikki Beach, especially with Brian Sears up. Outside of those two is the chance to take on Cult Status. She was right behind Nikki Beach in the prep and looks to break her maiden in this stakes after only two starts for trainer Richie Silverman. It would be a grand win for the one-time popular-driver-turned-conditioner, as well as it would be a wonderful price.

    Frosh-colt pacers are next in the $309,050 Woodrow Wilson Final. Another pacer that could rise from the maiden ranks with a stakes win is Chris Ryder’s Martini Hanover. Coming from Pennsylvania, this colt looks like he wants to pace all day and that is the kind of fiber we want on a green colt that looks for glory on the first Saturday in August. He is probably improving leaps and bounds and that is worth a bet here against the obvious choices the public will make.

    Frosh-filly trotters are on stage next in the $354,450 Merrie Annabelle Final. We liked Lady Riviera last week and she was best of the rest at 7-1 against the length-devouring To Dream On. Let’s turn the tables on the public choice and go for the price with her again; she may win being closer up this time as “Dream” will attempt to wire the field.

    The frosh-colt trotters, those 2013 Hambo prospects, go at it next in the $387,250 Peter Haughton Memorial. Again, we lean in the direction of the improving young horse and that’s where we find A Perfect Yankee. Getting into this final was not easy, since he broke at the start of his elim and was far back until he was able to pass horses in the stretch and, in full stride, finish fourth. Certainly the crowd will steer clear of driver Jim Oscarsson, feeling safer with Brian Sears on Major Athens. As well, they may shy away from the 10 horse, Fashion Blizzard, who we had last week. His second-place finish qualifies him to be in the thick of this, even as far out as he will start.

    Big Trots

    The older trotters vie in the $50,000 Vincennes Invitational and the traditional Nat Ray Final, worth $250,000.

    First, the Vincennes sends out 10 veterans from various class levels, making for a tightly competitive field. A profitable scenario finds Zooming controlling the fractions as the speed of the group from the inside and giving the Millers, Julie-trainer and Andy-driver, a big win. Certainly the Pocono race this guy delivered in a conditioned event is enough to allow him the veracity to defeat some of the older ones here.

    In the Nat Ray eight go out and seven have to contend with multiple-world-champion Chapter Seven. Mister Herbie already handed that one a defeat, winning at 8-1 in Canada. But an attempt to topple him today could make a case for Hot Shot Blue Chip. No stranger to this day, his return to the track after a brief retirement has been vengeful. Let’s take him today as the top two could cancel each other out.

    Closing Duo

    Pacers close out the stakes program with the $242,500 U.S. Pacing Championship for the elders and the $275,000 New Jersey Classic for the sophomore colts.

    The “Championship” has well-known starters and you can make scenarios that would benefit most of them to win. But We Will See returns to where he struck strongly last year and is in top shape again. He was hung at Chester in a scorching three-quarters and here will be looking for a trip from post 8 that allows him to turn the burners on just in time to pass the tired duelers. There is no way to predict price; you be the judge of the value.

    The “Classic” for state-bred soph colt pacers should go to Hurrikane Kingcole. He will, however, be wagered upon heavily. Should he get into a bad outer flow or at best hang, Rollnlikeabigshot may be there after a ground-saving trip to pick up the pieces and take this at a price.

    Ray Cotolo contributed to this edition.

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