• Cotolo’s Harness Review, News And Notes

    POSTED Jul 6, 2014
    The crowd was sharper than us over the weekend, for the most part, but our skim horses-to-watch list (H2W) broke through with a decent percentage of winners and a monstrous place list. Check out the seconds in the review below; many of those place prices are more generous than a lot of win tickets offered in features and overnights.

    Friday’s frosh events at the Meadowlands for New Jersey state-breds were no bargain for our choices. One colt scratched and the other two finished fifth (38-1) and seventh (16-1), respectively. Saturday, July 5, we stayed put at the Meadowlands for the highlighted events, looking over at Pocono in Pennsylvania for a few soph-colt trotters on the Hambletonian Trail.

    The industry focused upon the Hambletonian Maturity’s debut on Saturday at the Meadowlands for reasons obvious to any harness followers. The 1 1/8-mile event featuring only four-year-old trotters pitted Bee A Magician against male foes—a dozen of them—in a field of 14. The unusual double-tiered field featured a few well-known names, including last year’s Hambo winner, Royalty For Life and the Kentucky Futurity winner Creatine, our choice.

    All of the handicappers we know faced the same problem we faced with a field that large and extra real estate. Traffic was expected and could not be predicted. To truly appreciate the French-harness-like configuration of the race before we write about it here, we offer you a look at the replay by clicking here.

    Bee A Magician was the favorite, Royalty For Life was 4-1 and our choice was 9-1. The first two quarters were deciding points for some losers, as “Royalty” went to the top in :25.4 and Creatine was parked three wide for that call and the :55 second call. Creatine took the first-over spot in that whirlwind while Spider Blue Chip took over. Then, “Spider” broke, ending chances for Royalty beside him. Before a blistering 1:23.2 third call, Your So Vain flew three wide to pass them all and take command. Creatine found a second spot inside but was a victim of the fiery fractions to three-quarters and was passed past the 1:51.3 mile point established by “Vain,” who stayed easily to the finish in 2:05.3. “Bee” was all out to finish second, having saved a ton of ground during the speedy quarters and ultimately she passed tired horses to complete the exacta.

    Ake Svanstedt is the driver and trainer of Vain. He adds this win to his ever-growing stable of hot horses, including Sebastian K. The Swedish horseman is all the rage this season. Oddly enough, we liked Creatine for class reasons and his trip demoted all chances to win the “Maturity,” but it was Vain that was beaten by Creatine in their battle at three on The Red Mile in the “Futurity.” Creatine finished fifth in the Maturity.

    In the Meadowlands Pace elims we gave you two of three in the first split, with JK Endofanera, at 1-5 this week, won ($2.80, $2.20, $2.10) and Lyonssomewhere third ($3). Doo Wop Hanover (7-1) finished fourth but made the final field. In round two, we were fourth with Jet Airway (12-1) as He’s Watching won off of a pocket trip.

    We won the Mistletoe Shalee elim mile with Sandbetweenurtoes ($5, $3.20, $2.60), with our second choice, Gallie Bythe Beach third ($3.20).

    The week’s results from the Hambletonian Trail blog come from Pocono Downs, where the soph-colt trotters in the Pennsylvania All Stars splits produced Jett Star second ($5.40, $3.40), who with the favorite delivered an exacta worth $18.60.

    We share the results of our soph-trot analysis’ here with our weekly update. The Hambletonian Trail comes to you in cooperation with TwinSpires and the Hambletonian Society. You can read the recap race stories and data on the history of the August classics at the society’s archives.

    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.


    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).


    Rush Rules, $14.40, $8.90, $3, Buffalo
    Blissful Escape, $7.10, $4.40, $2.50, Buffalo


    Captain John Henry, $17.20, $8.60, Hoosier
    Best Risque, $13.40, $7.80
    Summertime Lea, $7.40, $3, Yonkers
    Rub N Tug, $6.80, $3.70, Mohawk
    Mary Rose Of Topaz, $5, $3.40, Scarborough
    Light N Shadow, $3.40, $2.80, Meadows
    Im A Lucky Man, $2.60, $2.20 (Exacta $4.60), Scarborough


    Nothinbutanallstar, $8.60, Hoosier
    Insane In Spane, $7.80, Yonkers

    News And Notes

    The $5 million Breeders Crown championships will return to Canada in 2015 after a two-year hiatus. Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) has signed a letter of intent to host all 12 events in the fall of next year, announced WEG Executive Vice-President of Racing Jamie Martin and Tom Charters, president of the Hambletonian Society, which owns and administrates the series. Woodbine hosted all 12 races in 2011 and 2012, handling more than $8.5 million and luring international stars Rapide Lebel and Commander Crowe.

    Champion racehorse and stallion Matts Scooter, 29, was euthanized in New Jersey last week. He had been residing at Perretti Farms, where he had stood at stud virtually his entire career. During his three-year campaign as a racehorse for trainer Harry Poulton, Matts Scooter won 37 times in 61 trips behind the gate, with earnings of $2,944,591. He was voted Horse of the Year in the United States in 1989 and was Canada’s Horse of the Year in ‘88 and ‘89.

    Lightly raced at two and ineligible for the Little Brown Jug and Cane Pace at three, Matts Scooter still managed to earn $1.78 million in 1988, winning 11 races and finishing out of the money only twice in 22 starts. He became the fastest pacer in the history of the sport that fall when he time-trialed in 1:48.2 at The Red Mile. Coming back to the races at four, Matts Scooter earned $1.14 million. His career stakes wins included the Meadowlands Pace, Messenger, Breeders Crown Open Pace, American-National, New Jersey Classic, Prix d’Ete, Nat Christie Memorial, Confederation Cup, Driscoll, Mohawk Gold Cup, Stewart Fraser Memorial, Cornell Memorial and U.S. Pacing Championship.

    During his 20 year career at stud Matts Scooter sons and daughters include numerous divisional and world champions. Mach Three ($2.17 million) was his richest performer and Royal Mattjesty (1:48.4) his fastest. His offspring earned $74.39 million and 210 were $100,000 winners. He also sired 358 1:55 performers and 792 with 2:00 marks. Matts Scooter was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Living Horse Hall of Fame in Goshen in 2006.

    Sid Alpert, a master innovator of raceway video and sound systems at a number of racetracks and a holder of a number of patents during the last half of the 20th century passed away at age 87. Alpert was a photographer at The Washington Times Herald with Jacqueline Bouvier (later wife of President Kennedy) as one of his protégés. Mr. Alpert became interested in harness racing and seeing a need for improved filming of races, formed his company, Electronic Race Patrol (ERP). Mr. Alpert began his career in racing by filming races in the 1950s at Maryland tracks. He teamed with the DuPont Chemical Company to develop a special film for use at night and was the first to film nighttime races.

    Alpert was the first to introduce live closed circuit race monitors at the tracks he serviced. He was first to show live races and replays on a split-screen. Next, he introduced color to showcase races on television. In the 1960s he was the first to bring live video broadcasting to racetracks in the Midwest. His company also made noted television broadcast advancements at the ill-fated Garden State Park. In 1977, with the track ablaze, Alpert was high atop the facility video-taping the disaster.

    Alpert fostered a remarkable project in 1989 that was ahead of its time. He visualized making full-card racing a staple on cable TV. His concept was to race entire programs at a track in Pennsylvania without anyone in attendance. The races would be shown on an all-racing channel offering wagering. Alpert envisioned having a daily early evening harness racing TV program in the fashion of the popular late night shows. Alpert’s concept included transmitting wagering information to fans at home via fax machine. Unfortunately, due to many reasons, he abandoned the project and then retired.

    The babies were at it again at the Meadowlands on July5. The star of the show wasn’t a two-year-old but a Hambletonain candidate at the very peak of his powers, Jimmy Takter’s Trixton. In a qualifier, Trixton waltzed around the oval in 1:53.3. He meets his stablemate Father Patrick in the Stanley Dancer Memorial on July 12. Perfect Alliance also got some work, touring the oval in 1:53.3 in preparation for the Miss Versatility leg next week.

    Baby trotters led off the card and a couple of fillies. Credit Winner-filly Crazy Beautiful and Lilu Hanover impressed with identical 1:58.1 miles. Takter drove the Cantab Hanover colt Walter White to a 1:59.4 win. Takter pacing pupil Bet You won his third straight non-betting race, this one in 1:57. He’s by Bettors Delight. Trond Smedshammer won a couple, taking the second race with Finish Line, a Yankee Glide gelding in 2:00. Trond also won with Crazshana in 2:01.4. This one is a Crazed gelding. Jonas Czernyson sent out a pair of winners, Alderbaran Eagle in 2:00.3 and a Muscle Hill filly Jolene Jolene in 2:01.

    Baby pacers started off with the speedy Sportswriter filly Yellow Mustang in 1:57. Joe Holloway trains. The cleverly named She’s A Hot Mess redeemed herself after last week’s miscue by beating a field of colts in 1:58. She’s an American Ideal homebred. The next group also contained some impressive colts. The winner was Major War, by American Ideal, in a 1:55.4 mile.

    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 ~ Find more fun Pye art at PYESITE


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