• Stakes shine in the mountains

    POSTED Jun 25, 2014
    Once again we head to the Pocono Mountains this Saturday for the sport’s features. On the chromatic dirt surface of the five-eighths mile spread of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs will ride the best of last week’s elim performers for the Max Hempt, James Lynch, Earl Beal, Jr. and Ben Franklin. Covering five divisions, there will also be a a $75,000 “Hempt” Consolation and a $50,000 “Lynch” Consolation, as well as a pair of $100,000 Invitationals.

    The Earl Beal, Jr. Final soph stakes are handled on our sister blog, the Hambletonian Trail. Don’t miss our exclusive coverage; click the link after you read this blog and check out the extensive analysis on that page.

    On Friday, the Meadowlands presents a cavalcade of New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) freshmen, elaborating the stakes season with the youngest divisions of fillies and pacers on both gaits.

    Weekdays are harness plentiful, too, check out the TwinSpires-Hoosier perks for 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 any and all late-breaking information on racing events and betting challenges that transpire between the publications of the two TwinSpires harness racing blogs.

    Pacers To The ‘Max’

    Mcwicked is the standout in the $500,000 Max Hempt Final off of a 1:48 victory as the 1-5 public choice in his elimination. This race features two horses who proved they can race according to the opportunist bias present at Pocono: Cammikey and At Press Time.

    There is no way this race will be given to Mcwicked like what happened in his elimination. With All Bets Off, who loves to stalk the pace, drawing post 8, this will be an all-out war on the front. Cammikey came into contention from third at the pylons and managed to finish second. At Press Time won his elim after sitting a pocket trip. These two will have a scolding pace set in front of them and are equal when it comes to their chances of winning. However, which is higher in value will be out of our hands. At this point, it seems Cammikey will be higher in price.

    Lynch Ladies

    The $300,000 James Lynch Final will be Uffizi Hanover’s race to win or lose, as she draws the rail off a brutal trip in the elimination. When it comes to these finals she has always been patient, from her victory in the Breeders Crown at two to a pocket trip in the Fan Hanover two weeks ago. Yet, one filly showed tremendous improvement in her elimination despite finishing second, Gallie Bythe Beach.

    Pocono is known to have a bias for opportunists, it was seen nearly all night in the eliminations. Gallie Bythe Beach cut the mile in her elimination, a drastic improvement from her two other efforts of 2014. This will be a race where strategy will prevail and if John Campbell tries to stalk the leader rather than be the leader, she’ll have a chance to defeat Uffizi Hanover.

    Consolations And Invitationals

    The $75,000 Hempt consolation offers a cast of second-tier colts from the division, with one exception: Doo Wop Hanover. How this guy didn’t make the final remains to be explained, since he is yet to show us he is a chump. All around him in this field are plodders compared to those in the Hempt final, so launching from the 8 hole should not be a problem. It is difficult to predict a favorite here except to say that “Doo Wop” won’t be on top, giving the bettor an edge on a price because he appears to be that good.

    Nine fillies that didn’t make the Lynch final have a shot at some major bucks in the Lynch consolation, worth $50,000. At 61-1 we never had a chance to witness an attempt by Katie Said, who was our second choice in her Lynch elim. Interference and a break ruined chances of seeing the final field up close. Here, the three-for-eight sophomore will be a good price because last week’s miscue may help. All in all, this is a poor group that can spawn an upset considering it may overbet a few into favoritism.

    The $100,000 USTA Invitational for older pacers is wide open unless you focus upon Dancin Yankee. It is difficult to believe an 8-1-morning line on this guy, who recently won a mile on this surface in 1:47.2. He is in his best shape, though that record mile was four races back, and he is simple the best of this group and may prove it with a sweeping early move and another boiling finish but this time at a better price (he was odds on when he won his speed badge).

    The Sun Invitation for trotters, also worth $100,000, will once again anoint Sebastian K and the Swedish stallion deserves it, dominating this division in three-straight wins against its toughest foes. In the “Cutler” final, we gave you the exacta with Sebastian K winning and Modern Family completing the couple. At $38 it was a steal. This could be the same situation, with Modern Family soaring to the top and cutting the quarters until Sebastian K pours on the speed inside or outside. Still, we would take “Family” to win because a nose or a whisker at Pocono can mean the difference between a whole bunch of dollars in a cashing experience. Box the exacta, though, especially if Family is, as we expect, displaying a large price to win.

    Big ‘Ben’

    Top, classy elders in the pacing ranks will be featured in the Ben Franklin Final. Here is an event that has soared to the top of the division’s big events with a purse of a half-million dollars. The cast this year is a compendium of talent that spans many seasons and leaves many race scenarios in play. Though these guys change crowns through the season, right now Sweet Lou is the ruler of the herd. His most recent three races have been scorching trounces of the likes of these, with the exception of Captaintreacherous.

    The only pacer not on Lasix, Captaintreacherous will not race as the favorite here, as he did when he was nosed out of a win in the elim by Domethatagain (here in post 5). That one, in fact, is the least of his problems in this mile. In fact, Captaintreacherous has little to worry about when it comes to the four-year-olds in this group; his main target is Sweet Lou.

    Getting a good price on Captaintreacherous will be a wonderful site but it may not be a spot for a large wager but a good spot for an exotic or two with his main nemesis. Burke is the conditioner of the first four lining up and aside from “Lou” the others can provide some traffic problems (thank goodness they are not coupled). Foiled Again, whose on-again-off-again form has no pattern, could present a lot of trouble anywhere during the mile.

    Freshmen Fire At Meadowlands

    First, we will evaluate the field of NJSS frosh-colt trotters in the only mile for this division; it’s worth $39,000. There are only two sires represented, as so many stallions in the state have moved and some farms have closed. Muscles Yankee is still producing Ihe has moved to New York) and now his champion son, Muscle Hill is, too (now in Pennsylvania). Five represents “Yankee” and three are from “Hill.”

    Other than some baby races, these are the first frosh products to hit the track this season from either sire. There are only qualifiers and baby races to use for past-performances, which is the case for all of the frosh events on the program.

    Jimmy Takter has his band of freshmen raring to go, including French Laundry in this group. The colt is coming off of two Meadowlands baby-race wins and will attract a scad of money based on that and his trainer’s brand.

    Off of a single appearance, Guess Whos Back showed a wonderful attempt to finish second but that won’t get by bettors, especially with Brian Sears up for the drive. It’s Muscle Blues that captures our attention, with a marked improvement in his third baby race. Debuting with a break and coming back from it with a smooth fourth against “Laundry,” Muscle Blues showed speed and leadership next out, just nipped at the wire after leading the mile. He could be bargain even if he is the third public choice here.

    The NJSS filly trot is a $38,500 affair with all seven gals by Muscle Hill. None of these come from team Takter, so the wagering may be scattered between a few, including Ron Burke’s Mission Brief and Joe Holloway’s Saturday Mornings. Still, we are going to take the outside gal, Southwind Cartier for a few reasons.

    This Muscle Hill is by a Chocolatier mare and that is a combination we want to follow closely as the frosh season ensues. Both of the filly’s baby races were at Pocono and trainer D.R. Ackerman will be at the helm. Trouble on a Pocono “good” surface was solved too late in the mile to win, settling for fourth. But her debut was a very strong wire-to-wire win. It is doubtful the public handicappers or the crowd will be investing in this gal, leaving us with a fine price for a strong contender.

    An octet comprise the first pacing colt split, which features a half-brother to Western Vintage, who won this race last year, Western Pioneer. Managing to drop four seconds off of his qualifier times, he’ll likely take a majority of the wagering. Yet, a few posts down from him resides Original Zin, who ships in from Philadelphia. He raced twice in qualifiers there, with his first an unappealing 2:02 effort. Returning from two weeks of rest, he paced a 1:55.2 mile, riding the pocket the whole way. His unknown connections should only inflate his price greater.

    The latter split is headlined by Bruce’s Magic, who paced a 1:55.4 qualifier in wire-to-wire fashion off of a break in his first outing. Coming in off of 13 days off is Sid Rock. He’s an unusual colt in this field, since he displayed two different racing styles in his qualifiers. In his first, he came first over at three-quarters and was less than a length from victory. In his second, he came from the middle of the pack and closed to be a length off the winner. Coming back rested, he should be ready to go. Dealt A Winner should also not be discounted, since he possesses a fierce closing kick as he begins his career.

    The premier division for the fillies consists of six, with one being a full sister to world-champion Put On A Show: The Show Returns. She comes off of a three-second improvement in a qualifier where she tried to go gate to wire but faltered to second. Residing at the rail is Stacia Hanover, who ships in after two strong qualifiers at Gaitway, both in wire-to-wire fashion; her most recent a 1:57 mile with a :26.4 kicker. With a filly whose pedigree has already shone in the spotlight contesting in this division, it will hopefully influence the odds to make our contender a slightly higher price.

    Our eyes in the other division are on Smart Zone, who will start on the outside of her foes from post 6. She has three qualifiers under her belt, two at Pocono, and has improved in every one. Her most recent was at the Meadowlands, a 1:57.1 time with a :26.2 kicker off of a pocket trip. She is a stalking type who can keep up with the leader and then leave them in her dust. She’s dangerous and can only get better with each start.

    H2W Legend

    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 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.


    6/28/14, +Zampano R1; +Milliondollardad R12

    6/28/14, +Slingshot Shooter R8

    6/27/14, So Reserved R6; +Pretty Place R12; +Colefederate R13

    6/27/14,+Little Mans Magic R4; Percevt Change R8; Light N Shadow R12 +Hedges Lane R13

    6/26/14, Yacht Party R3
    6/27/14, +Whitesville Ted R2
    6/29/14, +Diamond Gambler R1; Starlets Toy R4; +CJ Crystal R10

    6/28/14, Vanyar Hanover R2; +Miss Defiance R4

    6/22/14, +Petty Hanover R7; Joltin Colt R8; Fresh Dream R12; Chrome Cruiser R12

    6/28/14, +Forty Carrots R4; +Lex Lugar R10; +Rocky Regal R12
    6/26/14, +Im A Lucky Man ae R2
    6/27/14, +Dr Prescription R3; +Sassy Sarah R6; Winbak Wildfire R8
    6/28/14,  Mary Rose Of Topaz R9; Heaven Touched R10

    6/26/14, Rokingcastle as R13
    6/28/14, Winchester R12

    6/27/14, +Geronimo Fame R4
    6/28/14, +What About Brian R1; Heidi Falls R1

    6/27/14, Choke Hold ae R4
    6/28/14, +Big City Jewel R4; +Team Edward R7; +Stormin Rustler R7

     Lindys Real Deal R4;; +Printing A Place R8; Caidens Colt R9

    6/26/14, Eagle Now R4; Greystone Cash R6; Insane In Spain R9
    6/27/14, Some Like It Hot R5; +Babes I Scoot R10

    Ray Cotolo contributes to each edition.      

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