Cotolo’s Harness Review, News And Notes
Our review openings are starting to read like the home page of the Weather Channel but there is no escaping how the season is affecting our wagering habits. A huge ice storm pelted parts of Ontario so badly this last weekend that Woodbine, Flamboro and Western Fair programs were among the casualties. In America, Yonkers (Friday) and Sports Creek (Friday and Saturday) were forced to close due to safety issues.
Our two overnight feature races did not result in winners but our contenders were involved and influential in exotics.
On Friday, Dec. 20 at the Meadows we went two for three in the finish of Race 6. The crowd’s choice, Musgo, won at 20 cents to the dollar. To complete an exacta you would have had to have our 14-1 shot, Babyshesanoptimist ($6.20, $3). If you used her with the favorite, your exacta was worth $17.80. Another of ours, My American Girl (5-1) completed the trifecta paying $2.10. With the choice on top the trifecta came back $30. The horse we chose to topple the favorite, Theshipscruisinin was sixth at 31-1.
At Yonkers on Dec. 21 we took third at 30-1 with Dallenbach Hanover. She paid $12.80 to show. As we predicted, she was a sound contender even from the dreaded Yonkers post 8 and the public would not support her based on a driver switch from Brian Sears to Larry Stalbaum. She took a spot third all the way around and gained ground to come within a length of the first and second finishers that were separated by only ½ length.
It was a productive week again for the horses-to-watch (H2W) list. The list, which is still growing during its marquis season, was stifled by some track closures this weekend. We are keeping tabs of all those horses unable to race during those cancelled programs and will add them to the list as they are entered. The H2W list is exclusive to TwinSpires players.
Again this week, we will also feature at least two special paragraphs on overnights we feel deserve attention at selected tracks. Remember the only place on the Internet where harness racing is a priority for bettors is here at TwinSpires. Have a very happy holiday week from all of us at the TwinSpires harness department.
The H2W results list across-the-board prices. Also, exactas are included when a H2W horse finishing second completes the result with a race favorite as the winner.
Rich Dessert, $19.60, $6.60, $4.60, Cal Expo
Im A Sally Sue, $17.40, $3.60, $3, Maywood
Rambling Gambler, $13.70, $4.30, $2.70, Western Fair
Major Speed, $11.40, $5.80, $6.20 (ok), Northfield
Tremor Hanover, $11.40, $4.80, $3.20
Change The Future, $2.90, $2.80, $2.10
Blueridge Abigail, $2.40, $2.20, $2.20 (ok), Meadows
Cartoonist, $2.20, $3.20 (ok), $2.60, Pompano
Classic Sakuri, $12.80, $7, Northfield
Republic Of Panama, $4.80, $4, (Ex-$16.20), Cal Expo
Thomas John N, $3, $2.60,
Blissfull Kassie, $9.80, Cal Expo
Our Miss Kristi, $6, Maywood
Tarver Hanover, $6, Cal Expo
Emery Vern, $5.80, Cal Expo
How Forever Feels, $5, Northfield
Winordietrying, $3.20, Naywood
Victory Killean, $2.50, Western Fair
News And Notes
Bruce Aldrich, Jr.’s eight-win program at Monticello this week is one more example in our continuing testimony that drivers are not as important to handicappers as most think. The highest price an Aldrich-driven offered in the spree was at 5-2; the rest of his winners were dead-on choices. He also lost on a big favorite and did not surface a flat-bet profit. Though we congratulate Bruce on his accomplishment, smart bettors will continue to measure all of his competition equally.
Driver Jason Bartlett won the 5,000th race of his career. Jason has benefited bettors by losing a lot of high-profile attention while getting to this level, which finds him having won $54 million in purses. Bartlett continually drives winners that pay better than their chances, especially when he is in a race with a contender that is dismissed because his foes are being driven by more popular reinsters. Jason is every bit as talented as the best of them but apparently his press agent is not.
Bee A Magician, Maven and Father Patrick have won their divisional championships resoundingly to the surprise of few. Other divisions have not been tallied and, of course, Horse of the Year has three contenders, at least. Don’t forget our Players Horse of the Year, along with a recap of many of the big winners—though not big stars—brought to you at this blog, will be announced here before the year’s end.
Harrah’s Philadelphia announced its 2014 live racing schedule, with the 150-program season starting March 14. The opening Friday card carries a first post of 12:40 p.m., which will remain the starting time. Unlike past seasons, a Spring-Summer meet and a Fall meet separated by short breaks will not be the format for the 2014 season. It will be one continuous meet, concluding on Sunday, Dec. 14. From March through September, racing will take place four days a week, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Wednesdays are dropped from the schedule in October and racing will continue through the fall on a three-day-a-week schedule. As before, special Saturday cards (post time pending) will be held May 3 and 17, June 7and Nov. 1. Likewise, special Monday programs (post time 12:40 p.m.) are scheduled for May 26, Sept. 1 and Oct. 13.
The Richard “Nifty” Norman stable is concluding its best season. The team has won over $3.8 million this year, raising their best total from last year’s $3.58 million. Bee A Magician’s $1.5 million contribution played a significant role. “Right now she is turned out in New Jersey; don't look to see her until May,” said Norman. He also said, “The rest they did their part but it’s not getting any easier out there making money. But we’re starting out with a barn full again and maybe there will be something good in there.” The New Zealand-born Norman won 48 races from 434 starts in this record season.
Indulge in many standardbred topics at my Hoof Beats blog titled Vast Performances.
Ray Cotolo contributed to this blog.
Cartoons by Thom Pye