Cotolo’s Harness Review, News And Notes
Two of the three features we supported over the past weekend were both postponed. Just as we heralded standardbreds for cutting fast miles in extreme temperatures, it was that very condition that caused Northlands Park in Alberta to cancel racing Dec. 6 and Dec. 7.
Northlands Park sited “severe weather conditions” for the cancellation. That has forced the rescheduling of the track’s signature event, the Western Canada Pacing Derby for three-year-old pacing colts to next Saturday, Dec. 14. On Friday, the scheduled running of the filly companion event, the Northlands Filly Pace, was also postponed as the Edmonton track cancelled due to “extreme cold temperatures.” The fillies will race on Dec. 13. We will re-examine the two events in our Thursday blog.
The Alberta atmosphere was not part of any Northwestern storm system; it was merely a state the province experiences during December. But south of the West Coast brewed a mighty traveling disturbance.
A sweeping winter storm started in California and drilled a path of snow, sleet and ice through the south and up the inlands on the east. Parts of the storm were felt on the coast. It did not stop racing at the Meadowlands—where we lost the Reynolds stake to a favorite on Saturday night—but it caused inclement weather toward the eastern seaboard.
It affected race programs at Harrah’s Philadelphia (see below), which canceled after two races, while Dover, Saratoga and Scarborough managed to weather the weather, so to speak.
Our best results are below, as the horses-to-watch list was hot on the trail of smart-priced winners this week, making up for last week’s win shutout.
The H2W results list across-the-board prices.
Rick’s Sign, $25.20, $7.60, $4, Pompano
Jungle Of Terror, $17.60, $5.80, $4, Meadows
Pedro’s Dream, $14.40, $5.90, $6.30 (ok), Saratoga
Artomatic Pilot, $13.40, $6.60, $2.80, Pompano
Topville Bridgette, $11.80, $5.40, $2.40
Go Go Raider, $7.80, $3.40, @2.40, Freehold
AG Smart Alec, $4.60, $4, $2.10, Scarborough
Miss Chip, $8.80, $6.20, Meadows
Somekindadancer, $4.40, $3.20, Scarborough
Village Benjamin, $4.20, $2.20, Cal Expo
Lodi Dorian Blues, $4, $3, Cal Expo
Baby Boy Grin, $3.80, $2.90, Saratoga
Bold Fresh, $2.80, $3.20 (ok), Scarborough
Windsong Destroyer, $6.70, Batavia
I’n A Mainer, $3.80, Scarborough
Newsboy Moriarty, $3.40, Freehold
Ordering, (no show wagering), Scarborough
There were three horses at Harrah’s Philadelphia on the H2W list for Dec. 8 but due to bad weather the track cancelled racing after two events. These horses will appear a future list per their scheduled performances.
News And Notes
Calgary, Alberta, lost harness racing at Stampede Park and it seemed like standardbreds were going to be headquartered at Edmonton’s Northlands Park, never to have a circuit again. But recently, ground was broken for Century Downs, a race track in Calgary supported by Century Casinos. It’s a $24-million project that will include a casino, a hotel and the raceway that will include harness and thoroughbred meets. Alberta has been a solid province for growth. Also, a 2007 study helped push the project through when it revealed that the horse racing industry in the province contributed $399 million. Racing may begin in 2016.
Our good friend from the early California days, Ron Pierce, recently won his 9,000th race as a driver. Ron, 57, told Ken Weingartner of the USTA, “I would have gotten to [9.000] sooner if I didn’t mess up so many times. Ron has won many high-profile stakes in the sport since his early days at Los Alamitos. We saw him at the Meadowlands for Hambletonian weekend where he gave Ray Cotolo two of the whips he used when driving winners that day.
Sunshine Beach, winner of the Progress Pace and the winner of over $900,000 this season, went into surgery last week for a bladder stone that he has had since the Meadowlands Pace in July. Providing he comes out of the surgery without complications, his connections expect him to return in 2014 with a strong four-year-old season.
Monticello Raceway will offer six-straight programs starting on Dec. 15. After the skein, live racing continues on Dec. 23 then skips to Dec. 26 and Dec. 27. The end of the season offers racing on Dec. 30 and Dec. 31.
Batavia concluded its 67th harness season on Dec. 7. Shawn McDonough was the meet’s leading driver and John Mungillo took the trainer honors. The northern New York track is the oldest lighted raceway devoted to harness. Racing will resume in July.
The Raceway at Western Fair District offers plenty of live racing over the holiday season. There will be special post times for both the Boxing Day (Dec. 26) and New Year’s Eve programs. The Boxing Day card will start at 1:15 p.m. (EST) and the New Year’s Eve program will feature a later start time of 8:05 p.m. Western Fair has changed the post times for a pair of Monday afternoon programs (Dec. 23 and Dec. 30) to 4:35 p.m.
Indulge in many standardbred topics at my Hoof Beats blog titled Vast Performances.
Ray Cotolo contributed to this blog.
Cartoons by Thom Pye