• Cotolo’s Harness Review, News And Notes

    POSTED Jun 1, 2014
    A ton of action ensued over the weekend at harness tracks across North America and no shortage of stakes and features. Our review in this blog will cover our suggested contenders in the weekend’s high-profile features for pacers as well as horses from our Hambletonian Trail blog.

    In the features department it was a festival of chalk and where we did not have popular public choices, we lost.

    Friday’s events included Empire Breeders Classic soph trots at Vernon, analyzed on the “Trail” blog and three of four we supported were second to favorites, creating exactas. The favorite we backed, Lukas Hall, broke and was eliminated. But the other colt split found Wild And Crazy Guy second ($7.10, $4.80) for a $24.20 exacta.

    Then there were two filly trots and we were twice in the place spot. Annies List ($5.40, $2.90) helped produce a remarkably high exacta with the public choice, worth $48.20. Then we were second with Glowngold ($2.20, $2.10).

    The super Father Patrick won for everyone at the Meadows on Friday—seriously, for everyone and had only a win price, $2.10. There were no place or show or exotic wagers. The fabulous soph trotter won by nearly 20 lengths. The second choice in the race was over 80-1 and the horse we wanted to complete the exacta, Jett Star, was third at 356-1. His stablemate Nuncio won another split easily as a huge choice. Then we were second with Uva Hanover ($3.20, $2.20) in the third sires stakes split with the public choice for a meager exacta worth $7.80.

    Friday’s Molson Pace was also won by the crowd’s choice, with our contender, PH Supercam, going off at 15-1 and finishing seventh. Then it was Saturday and the clouds of chalk continued to hover over featured harness races.

    At the Meadowlands, the soph trotters’ sires-stakes finals began with the top colt Trixton ($2.40, $2.10, $2.10 ok) winning for all of us. Our biggest score of the weekend was next in the filly final, as Heaven’s Door took the mile ($10.40, $4.60, $3.60).

    On Sunday, Sweet Lou was featured opening the new month of stakes as he won the Roll With Joe at Tioga. Coming off of his big win at the Meadowlands last week, Ron Burke’s pacer, a champ at two, a disappointment at three and the come-back kid in the FFA division, was showing new signs of domination in the $160,000 event. He was also the dead-on favorite coupled with Clear Vision (finishing eighth), Our 10-1 contender, Dovuto Hanover, finished seventh.

    Along the Hambletonian Trail (blog active through July) in cooperation with TwinSpires, you can read the race stories and data on the history of the August classics at the Hambletonian Society archives.

    Also Saturday at the Meadowlands, second-choice Doo Wop Hanover, also our second choice, has a simpler trip than our choice, Western Vintage ($2.10) to report an exacta worth $11.80.

    Up north at the Meadows, the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes’ three miles began with our colt pacer, Luck Be Withyou, finishing second ($$3, $2.30) to the big choice for a paltry exacta worth $5.50. We won the second round with the obvious choice, Always B Miki ($3.40, $2.40, $2.40 ok). Then, the controversial He’s Watching came back to win easily after his embarrassing soph debut last week. He took the third split while our choice, Jet Airway, broke and was eliminated at 5-1. Fans of He’s Watching are calling last week an anomaly but by no means does this win lock up the division for him. He still has much to prove when facing tougher stock in the North America Cup elims next week. Stay tuned for that analysis in the June 5 TwinSpires harness blog.

    At Yonkers we lost the “Rooney” final to the favorite with Maxi Bon finishing third (no show wagering) and we lost the Lismore with Also Encouraging finishing third ($3.20)

    TwinSpires and Hoosier continue a three-pronged power-packed program 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.

    In between published harness blogs, follow @FrankCotolo and @TwinSpires on Twitter to get tips on Hoosier contenders you can use in your tickets. Other possibilities appear in exclusive H2W list.

    Our H2W was active again, with some bright winners and healthy prices in place and show, with some exacta hits (using public choices in tandem with our picks) as overnight action continues to be the focus of the list for TwinSpires harness players.


    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).


    St Lads He Man, $18.20, $7.20, $4, Pocono
    Hilarious Hero, $11.60, $4.80, $3, Meadowlands
    Mugshot Jess, $11.60, $6.50, $3.50, Yonkers
    Cyclone Pass, $5.20, $3, $3.20 ok, Scarborough
    Best Of Curragh, $4.40, $2.60, $2.10, Plainridge
    Monkey On My Wheel, $4.10, $3.30, $2.60, Yonkers
    Freshman Phenonom, $3.60, $2.80, $2.40, Maywood
    Political Desire, $3.20, $2.70, $4 ok, Yonkers


    Upfrontsthegold, $14.60, $8.40, Meadowlands
    Jitterbug Hanover, $2.40, $2.40 ok (Exacta $10.40), Scarborough
    Shoot First, $2.40, $2.60 ok (Exacta $10.40), Scarborough


    Hep, $6, Meadows
    Irish Raider, $3.80, Maywood
    Baksidebar Nlounge, $3.20, Maywood

    News And Notes

    The first baby races of the 2014 season were on display on Saturday morning, May 31 at the Meadowlands. Trotting fillies opened the card and a Muscle Hill filly won the first mile in 2:01  for trainer Joe Holloway. The Muscles Yankee colt French Laundry won race two in 2:00.4. Jimmy Takter conditions the son of Hambo Oaks winner Creamy Mimi. Walter White won the third for Takter in 2:01.3. This one’s a Cantab Hall product.

    The Well Said filly Aria Hanover won the first pacing race in 2:01.1 for TeamTakter. Then, two more Takter pacers finished one two in the next race with the Somebeachsomewhere colt Blood Brother edging Azorean Art in 2:00.4. The very first of the Rocknroll Hanovers was a winner, also for Takter as Zip Code Envy led all the way in 1:59.4. This filly is from Neverhaveneverwill and brought a bid of $27,000 from Christina Takter, John & Jim Fielding and Brixton Medical AB at Lexington.

    Over at the Meadows, sires Rustler Hanover, Explosive Matter, Dream Away and Western Terror had winning baby products in qualifiers.

    Kawartha Downs will be offering live harness racing every Saturday evening from June 21 through Oct. 25 pending regulatory approval anticipated Monday. Post time will be 7 p.m. The lone dark night will be Sept. 20 due to a stock car event.

    Forty-seven three-year-old pacers remain eligible for the 35th edition of the Meadowlands Pace. The 2014 glamour-boy crop appears to be one of the widest open in many years. Due to the increase in horses eligible for the Meadowlands Pace, the purse of the race will grow, according to Director of Racing Operations Darin Zoccali. “This year just worked out perfectly for this race. The combination of a wide open three-year-old pacing division, tied into the changes we have made to the payment structure, have secured a stronger purse for the final of the Meadowlands Pace than the past two years, which was our hopes in implementing this plan,” said Zoccali. “While the purse for the final is always dependent on the number of eliminations, I estimate the purse for the final being in the vicinity of $750,000.” The Meadowlands Pace, created by the track’s first race secretary Joe DeFrank, was the first million-dollar harness race.

    The sport is mourning the passing of Doug Ackerman, who was 86. He was one of the most respected trainers in harness racing and widely admired for his “innate horsemanship, ironclad integrity, and memorable sense of humor,” according to horsemen, who held him in the highest esteem. Ackerman was a fixture on the Grand Circuit for decades and trained and drove many top horses, such as Albaquel, Crowning Point, Self Confident, Noble Hustle, Denali, Happy Chatter, Noble Traveler, Amer I Can, Cape Canaveral, Leopard, and the old warrior Bramble Hall. We remember him for his productive campaigns out west, when there was a munificent circuit for harness, including Hollywood Park, Los Alamitos, Bay Meadows, Cal Expo and Fairplex Park. In recent years, Ackerman turned the driving duties over to his son, D.R., and together they raced Chocolatier, a winner of $1.3 million and the top freshman trotter of 2005. He was second in the 2006 Hambletonian, racing a ton from post 10. Chocolatier has gone on to become a top sire of young trotters.

    Extraordinary Extras

    Indulge in many standardbred topics at my Hoof Beats blog titled Vast Performances.

    Ray Cotolo contributed to this blog

    Cartoons by Thom Pye


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