It was a decent weekend for our contenders, highlighted by wins and exactas from the horses-to-watch (H2W) list. In the past two weeks we have either contributed to winning exacta combinations (the H2W horse coming in second with the public choice winning, at the most, a boxed investment) or handed winning combos to the player cold (two H2W horses listed in the same race, also based on a boxed investment).
This week’s cold exacta, at Saratoga (see Tyler below in list of winners), paid $107.50. Also at Saratoga, a contributor (see Village Jackson in row of seconds below), created an exacta worth $71.50. There were five other exacta-contributing H2W horses.
Our biggest winner of the week was Well Done Hanover at Pocono, paying $41.20. Since the list started for 2014, Well Done Hanover is the fourth horse to pay from $40 to $50.80.
The 50-cent bonus Pick 4, a weekly play offering a 10-percent-bonus on winning the exotic, was a failure on our part last Wednesday. We offered five suggestions to consider in your ticket and only one finished third.
The Pick-4 is offered from the fifth to the eighth races every Wednesday evening. We assist with suggestions for your ticket via Twitter -- @FrankCotolo, @TwinSpires and @BuffaloRaceway and implore you not to pass the less-than-obvious contenders in your ticket and as win, place and show possibilities.
Our contenders in the second leg of the “Levy” and Matchmaker series at Yonkers were involved but unable to win.
In the quartet of Matchmaker divisions on Friday we were second with Krispy Apple ($2.20, $2.20 ok) and in that same division third with Let’s Go Higher ($5.40). We were out of the money in two other Matchmaker field battles and third with Shelliscape (no show wagering).
The Levy splits were also unkind, though we missed the 30-1 shot that won a division. Our choices were only good for one exacta contributor when Word Power was third to the favorite entry winner (first and second), presenting an exacta worth $6.50.
Over at the Meadowlands we scored late with the Horse & Groom Final winner, Hldontghttoyurdrms ($9.40, $6.40, $3.60). Though many of the trotters considered more competitive than our choice broke and were eliminated from contention, our choice was unaffected, going wire to wire smoothly.
We were fifth in the Clyde Hirt final with Berkentine Hanover at 15-1..
The H2W results list across-the-board prices. Also, exactas are included when a H2W horse finishing first or second completes the result with a race favorite or another H2W horse listed in the same race (an asterisk appears when both horses were listed to complete the exacta).
Well Done Hanover, $41.20, $14.20, $9.80, Pocono
Tyler, $17, $7.80, $4.70 (*Exacta $107.50), Saratoga
Shax, $8.80, $3.40, $3.80 ok (Exacta $9.20), Cal Expo
Dreams Are Real, $7.20, $3.80, $2.80 Freehold
Waywatcher, $7, $3.40, $2.80, Freehold
Espirit De Kayjay A, $5.40, $3.40, $2.80, Freehold
Mystical Diva, $4.30, $2.60, $2.30, Yonkers
Dream On Shorty, $4.20, $3.40, $2.40, Miami Valley
Mystical Danica, $2.70, $2.10, $2.10 ok, Saratoga
Notreadytobenice, $12, $7.20, Meadowlands
Pacific Escape, $10.60, $4, Freehold
Ideal Choice, $6.60 (no show wagering, Exacta $21.60), Pompano
Milliondollartorch, $5.80, $3.40 (*Exacta $107.50), Saratoga
Chepachet, $4.80, $4.60 (Exacta $14.20), Rosecroft
Chipoffablueblock, $4.80, $3.60 (Exacta $23.60), Dover
Village Jackson, $4.70, $3.30 (Exacta $71.50), Saratoga
Kings Point, $3.80, $2.40 (Exacta $16.40), Freehold
Wild About Eagle, $3.80, $2.60, Cal Expo
Veto Hanover, $2.90, $2.50, Buffalo
Doctor Gates, $2.10, $2.50 ok, Buffalo
TN Starbuck, $4.40, Rosecroft
Macho Mcgraw, $3.80, Rosecroft
Lone Raider, $3.20, Rosecroft
Me Tarzan, $3.20, Cal Expo
Sentosa Island, $2.40, Meadowlands
News And Notes
Seventy three-year-old pacing colt nominees for this year’s North America Cup remain after seven dropped out in the one month between payments. The $1-million final at Mohawk is scheduled for Saturday, June 14. Still sitting on top of the list of nominees is Hes Watching, who set two world records last season along with six track records for trainer David Menary. Though the colt was undefeated last season, he beat no frosh standouts, making his mark on the New York Sires Stakes circuit. Some of those champs never facing Hes Watching are still on the docket, including Arthur Blue Chip, Luck Be Withyou, National Debt and last year's Metro winner Boom Boom Ballykeel. Another top rookie from last season on the list is Western Vintage, trained by Nancy Johansson. The Pepsi North America Cup eliminations are set for Saturday, June 7.
Jim Morrill, Jr. has been banned from driving at Pocono. No specific incident was given as a reason, the powers-that-be just announced his departure. Morrill, who was the third leading driver last year at the racino track, said he has heard no explanations from track management and the only way he knows he is not welcome is because trainers have told him that every time they try to enter a horse with him down as the driver the racing office tells them they must choose someone else.
As Captaintreacherous gets ready to compete at four in the older division of pacers, trainer Tony Alagna is pleased. Captaintreacherous returned to Alagna’s stable in February after two months of rest at Brittany Farms in Kentucky and is being aimed at a big season beginning in June. Alagna says the colt has matured and put on some more muscle tone. “We’re shooting to qualify sometime at the end of May,” “We’ll set up his schedule after we qualify [in late May],” Alagna said, “but we’ll probably aim for the Meadowlands Maturity [on June 13].”
Though the “Captain” joined Rocknroll Hanover and Gallo Blue Chip as the only horses to win the Breeders Crown, North America Cup and Meadowlands Pace in the same season, as well as becoming the second horse to win back-to-back Pacer of the Year honors (since Jenna’s Beach Boy), as well as he and joined Niatross as the second horse to accomplish the feat at two and three. But Captaintreachers, clearly one of the best sophomore pacers to hit the track in recent memory, was denied Horse of the Year awards mostly due to a myopic band of industry voters more impressed with soph-trotter Bee A Magician. The stunning filly never lost a race in 2013 by passing all chances to race with the trotting colts and beating the same group of fillies in her division.
Only a handful of industry journalists, including myself, were disappointed. Even Alagna said the colt deserved the honor. It was a year where arguments could have been made for two other stupendous performers, Father Patrick and I Luv The Nitelife. While covering the major events for TwinSpires and the Hambletonian Society, we coined this quartet The Four Horses of the Apocalypse, dramatically emphasizing what an earthshaking season was presented with four unique talents in it.
The 2014 stakes schedules for Balmoral and Maywood is finally here. The first major state-bred (ICF) stake will be on May 18 with soph pacing fillies in the $45,000 Violet Stake at Balmoral. There will also be Violet and Cardinal Stakes ICF pacers and trotters on May 25, May 28 and May 31 at Balmoral. Maywood’s first big event will be the $100,000 Filly Maywood Pace for ICF soph fillies on June 13. The $100,000 Maywood Pace for ICF soph pacing colts is on June 20. The first Hanover Stakes at Balmoral will feature a pair of events for soph trotters on June 7. Locals battle in the Southland Festival of Racing at Balmoral on July 26 and July 27. A pair of $50,000 Hanover Stakes for frosh filly pacers go on Aug. 2 at Balmoral, while a pair of $60,000 events for frosh trotters go on Aug. 3. Balmoral hosts ICF champs again with Super Night, on Sept. 13. American-Nationals kick off on Sept. 17.
October presents the $100,000 Lady Lincoln Stake for frosh trotting fillies (Oct. 1), while their male counterparts battle in the $100,000 Lincoln Land Stake (Oct. 5) at Balmoral. Maywood hosts the $60,000 Cardinal and Violet Stakes for frosh colt and filly pacers on Oct. 3. Saturday (Oct. 11) and Friday (Oct. 17) present some of the best pacers and trotters in the country with the $250,000 American-National soph colt pace, $225,00 American-National soph colt trot, $200,000 American-National Open pace, $180,000 American-National Open trot, $175,000 American-National soph filly pace, $150,000 American-National 3 soph filly trot, $125,000 American-National frosh colt pace and $125,000 American-National frosh filly pace.
Maywood’s biggest card of the season is just six days later on Oct. 17 with the $225,000 Windy City Pace for soph pacing colts, the $130,000 Abe Lincoln Stake for frosh pacing colts, the $110,00 Galt Trot for soph trotting colts and the $100,000 Cinderella Stake for soph pacing fillies.
Indulge in many standardbred topics at my Hoof Beats blog titled Vast Performances.
Ray Cotolo contributed to this blog
Cartoons by Thom Pye