The weekend starts with soph-colt-and-filly-pacer stakes at Yonkers with Art Rooney and Lismore elims. More sophomores rattle their sulkies with Historic events at Pocono and New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) at the Meadowlands on Saturday.
Soph-colt-and-filly trotters continued to be covered throughout the week on our spin-off blog, the Hambletonian Trail. Follow the divisional races and the eligibles to this year’s August trotting classics at The Meadowlands. For this weekend’s events, go to the “Trail” blog and peruse our analysis. Check weekdays where there are not TwinSpires blogs for other events not covered within the blog deadlines.
Also on weekdays, check out the TwinSpires-Hoosier team’s perks for harness players. Tuesdays, wager all you want and earn 10 TSC Elite Points per dollar bet. Click here for details. Every Thursday night, there is a 20-percent bonus on hitting the Pick 4 starting at Race 3. Click here for details. And the ongoing 10-percent Pick-4 bonus every racing night on Pick-4 hits continues through the meet. Click here for details.
Follow @FrankCotolo and @TwinSpires on Twitter to get tips on Hoosier contenders you can use in your tickets during the promo program days. Other possibilities appear in exclusive horses-to-watch (H2W) list.
The sophomore debut of He’s Watching takes place on his home turf in New York at Yonkers Raceway as he leads a list of 11 three-year-old colts in the 23rd edition of Yonkers’ Art Rooney Pace. The total purse of this season’s “Rooney” is $380,000, with a pair of $40,000 elimination races Saturday, May 24. The first four finishers in each round qualify for the final, programmed for Saturday, May 31.
The elims –races 9 and 11—present He’s Watching from post 2 in the opening round against (in post order) Unlocked, Forty Five Red, Gold Rocks and Stevensville. Ray Schnittker trains Stevensville, who has won one of two in his debut soph season and is a very fast hombre. The cards stack for He’s Watching but readers of the TwinSpires harness blog know that we are not as buzzed about him as industry members. This is why we are going with Stevensville to upset He’s Watching’s first soph outing. Even from post 7, Stevensville could prove a major problem for anyone in the field and if he is getting better then we better be with him before he proves he is a major match for He’s Watching.
The second elim features Ideal Fashion, Some Playa, All Bets Off, Thereisapaceforus and Maxi Bon. This is a difficult race to predict betting activity. However, Maxi Bon should get action, being the top earner of the quintet for trainer Tony Alagna. Keep an eye out for Some Playa to be a second or third choice. If ignored, he could turn out to be the bet. The public may put too much money on Ron Burke’s entry, All Bets Off, and that could create fair odds for the other two mentioned if they are second-or lower choices.
The $124,744 final of the Lismore for soph-filly pacers is also on May 31. This Saturday it also offers two elims, worth $20,000 each to decide the final’s field.
The first elim features It Was Fascination, Bettor Business, A Little Starstruk, Southwind Silence and Palm Beach. It’s tight, for sure, with only five gals. But it may be best to hope for decent odds on the filly debut of It Was Fascination. Alegna may have her primed and from the Yonkers rail she could sail home easily.
Five others make up the second elim and Casie Coleman’s Also Encouraging is bound to be the choice with two starts and two wins already in 2014. She faces Tyra, JK Molly, Gentlemen’s Delight and Rusty’s Bliss, none of which have won this season in two to four starts. There will be no encouraging price for Also Encouragement so as a key you may want to use Rusty’s Bliss to get a piece of the late action for a decent exacta.
The Grand Circuit’s Historic Series continues at Pocono with the Pocono Cup (formerly the Jersey Cup), featuring two $36,000-plus divisions for glamour-boy pacers.
The first split should see Jk Endofanera take a slew of win bets. He won his debut and has been highly rated by prognosticators of the division this year. But we will take the oddly named The Lunch Pail, a Joe Holloway-trained youngster that is showing he wants to make some money this season. He has been off the board only once in six starts and may be every bit as good as “Jk.” Again, we would want to get him on the improve and this is a chance at a price.
Fire In The Belly was set to go on the H2W list after some tough trips. Still, he has won six of nine for Jim King, Jr. The crowd will probably go for Takter’s duo, no doubt a classy pair, but uncoupled they could get too much attention and send some odds up on “Fire.” Holloway has another here—Stratos Hanover—and you can bet he will be gunning and have something to say about the top three at the finish.
Harrah’s Philadelphia hosts two giant miles for aged trotters and aged mare pacers on Sunday, May 25. The men ramble in the Maxie Lee Invitational and the women wrestle in the Betsy Ross, both stakes with a purse of $250,000.
The usual suspects are at hand for the man war, minus the so-far dominant Sebastian K. Market Share is here, off of his bad behavior in the “Cutler” and Sevruga gets the rail while Arch Madness has more to deal with from post 8 than his current form. Takter puts Not Afraid in, Opening Night returns, along with Daylon Magician (who just won at the Meadows), Undercover Strike and DW’s NY Yank.
Market Share and Sevruga, on their best behaviors, have the edge here but the crowd will see that and hammer them. Beware, however, of Burke’s DW’s NY Yank. He might be as big here as we expected him to race in his Cutler elim. Certainly, he will be a good price against the proposed top two. This race could produce some traffic and that would be good if “Yank” can stay out of the dueling and shuffling.
The Betsy Ross cast is also familiar by now from escapades at Yonkers’ Matchmaker Series. One of those, Casie Coleman’s Monkey On My Wheel, may find a perfect spot to beat the speed here. With Shebestingin flying on the outside to get position, Anndrovette in gear to try a steal from the top, Drop The Ball ready to duel that one and the back field of Jerseylicious and Rocklamation timing their closes, “Monkey” could be in a perfect spot at a perfect price to take advantage of those too speedy and those too late.
A $48,500 NJSS mile for soph-colt pacers is leg two for the division of Jersey-breds. One would imagine that Doo Wop Hanover will be at least as well supported here as he was last week, with Rock Out probably the second choice again (the two race uncoupled for trainer Steve Elliot). This leaves plenty of wagering space for lightly raced Dancin Hill to serve notice on the division. There is little else flashing about any of the others, most of which have few if more than a maiden victory to their freshman seasons.
The second NJSS leg for soph-filly pacers presente two splits worth $26,000 each.
In the first round there are three Burke trainees, two coupled, in the seven-filly field. Last week we liked the debut of Ideal Helen but she did not care to participate as we hoped and lost at 37-1. Let’s toss that out and see if trainer Erv Miller sends her into the thick of it in this less-than-stellar group.
Round two brings back Blixtra, who we liked two back but not in the first leg, where performed well enough to finish second at 30-1 but was placed eighth for bad behavior. Trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt may find that the filly’s odds are high again due to that incident and that is what we want in order to back her again. The other danger is Act Now, who was soaring late in the first leg and has plenty of frosh back class.
Review our choices and follow the wagering at the prescribed track. These are possible contenders we have judged from reviewing races. The horses’ names are listed beneath the name of the track after the date they will be racing. The race in which they are entered (R and race number) follows. If a + is in front of a horse’s name it means it is appearing on the list for the second (and last time) because it failed to win the first time it appeared. An “ae” signals the horse is entered but on the also-eligible list. If a horse is listed twice, refer to the entries on the night of the race since a horse may enter in more than one race. Types of wagering on any of the H2W listed horses are based on your judgment. If you have any questions, email us at TwinSpires.
5/23/14, Wolf Angus R11
5/24/14, Adelia’s Prince R5; Release The Terror R7; Rafferty Hanover R11; Areyouinorout R13
5/25/14, +Bagel Man R4
5/22/14, Bond’s Lassie R3
5/23/14, Badlands Lady (ae) R1; Another Beauty R2; Sealark Hanover R5; Fox Valley George R11; +Zumba R12
5/24/14, Sometimes Said R12
5/23/14, Case Dismissed R1; Dew N Doughnuts R8; +Mateo M R11; +Incredible Dragon (as) R14; +Strother R14; +Here’s Ethel R15
5/24/14, Best Of Curragh R3; Fedigan’s Glory R6
5/24/14, St Lad’s He Man R3
5/24/14, Mcgreat R1; Ramblingamblinman R4; Racin For Gold R7
5/22/14, Its Bush Time R10
5/23/14, Political Desire R9
5/23/14, +Grix Gadoo R8
5/24/14. Ladyofcastlebrook R1; Jitterbug Hanover R2; +Bettor’s Night R3; Electric Mayhem R4; +A Fool For Mark R7
5/23/14, +Upfront Miss Major R6
5/23/14, Time Stood Still R1
5/25/14, +Candid Man R3; +Jaipur R4
5/23/14, +Quickway R3
5/24/14, Glide Speed R7
5/22/14, Olive Oyle R3; +Mcnickles Mcdimes R4; Dropping Star R6
5/23/14, Sign Of The Moment R1; Mugshot Jess R2; +Noble Warrawee R2
Ray Cotolo contributes to each edition.