• Mid-season Features Around The Ovals

    POSTED Aug 6, 2014
    It’s the sport’s mid-season as we roll through August and though the Meadowlands’ season is done for now (returns in November), wild harness battles ensue and the star equines take to the road at the Grand Circuit tracks, aiming for Breeders Crown (BC) glory this fall. Our Countdown Breeders Crown blog will fire up next week and feature analysis of races for the divisions’ top horses on both gaits; races that have significant wagering value. (Photo on right by Ray Cotolo)

    This week, aside from some high-profile names (most horses from the Hambletonian day stakes parade will be taking the week off), the action is local, per se. Hoosier Park is packed with Indiana Sires Stakes (INSS) for two- and three-year-olds on Friday and Saturday. We will cover the $75,000 finals. As well, the Dan Patch Invitational brings some strong ole pacers to the gate on Aug. 8.

    Charlottetown Drivers Park launches trials for its premier event, the Gold Cup and Saucer. The final is on Aug. 16 (watch for analysis here next Friday).

    More traditional Currer & Ives go postward at the Meadows over the weekend, also, and some familiar faces are at hand.

    At Tioga on Aug. 10, glamour-boy pacing-colt rivals Hes Watching and Jk Endofanera battle in the Empire Breeders Championship and a filly version is also on hand.

    Our horses-to-watch list (H2W) presents suggested contenders—valuable additions to your win, place and show bets and exotics through North America. See our weekly list of “lookouts” below. 

    Weekdays, 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.

    Patchwork Foes

    The $250,000 Dan Patch Invitational reunites a few US Pacing Championship characters including the brilliant and dominant Sweet Lou and the only horse to defeat him this season, Dancin Yankee. This is their first meeting since May, when Sweet Lou finished third in the Van Rose at Pocono Downs.

    Ron Burke, Sweet Lou’s trainer, told Ken Weingartner (USTA correspondent) that he is nervous because Dancin Yankee “is racing as well as any [horse] in the country … [he] is super sharp, career sharp, too.”
    Dancin Yankee is on a six-race winning streak, though he has not consistently faced the caliber of foes that has “Lou.”

    A field of nine is the cast of the event at Hoosier Park on Friday, Aug. 8. It’s the 21st installment of Hoosier’s signature event and it highlights the 14-race program complimented by INSS finals.

    Others in the field are the familiar Bettor’s Edge, Heston Blue Chip, Thinking Out Loud and State Treasurer. Filling out the field are Night Pro (INSS champ), Carol’s Comet and Our Lucky Chip.

    Though it makes sense to emphasize a threat to Lou, he has raced with immaculate precision that we witnessed in person at last week’s Hambletonian program. Watching him take command and rolling smoothly with driver Ron Pierce going along for the ride (no urging at all) was as amazing a performance as I have seen yet—and I have seen some of the greats.

    Trust we are being objective, for we were not fans of Lou when he was anointed at three, and we were proven correct, as he failed to live up to the hype of his frosh antics. At four he was good here and there and we had him a few times at fair prices. But at five he is phenomenal, with a wondrous rhythm and marvelous muscle. Pocono’s three turns have stumped a few great horses here and there and Dancin Yankee had his day against Lou in May. It won’t happen this time; Sweet Lou may break every speed record Hoosier will ever record.

    It’s exotic time in the betting department, then. Kick out the locals—they have no business in this against Lou and the rest—and be wary of Heston Blue Chip for second. He may offer some value for the exotics, even though he was magnificent last week on Hambo day. Linda Toscano’s New York-bred champ could nose Dancin Yankee for second and pump up an exacta price.

    A $25,000 guaranteed Dan Patch superfecta pool will be available as part of the USTA Strategic Wagering Program. The wager will have a minimum bet of 10 cents and is available through the cooperative efforts of the USTA, Hoosier and the Indiana Standardbred Association. A $10,000 guaranteed Pick-3 is featured with races seven through nine

    Indiana-bred Battles Abound

    The INSS frosh-filly trot leads the $75,000-each finals on the Aug. 8 program. Though she has post 9, Golden Big Stick is a prime example why her sire, Big Stick Lindy, is on the best average earnings list. She is fast and she is a great earner, the best in this field.

    Next, INSS frosh-colt trotters hit the track. Two sons of Swan For All, a promising sire thus far, lead the pack. One of them, Airman Batten, should not be denied this championship.
    Frosh-colt pacers are next on the INSS docket. Rockin Image colts make up half the field. His progeny has been prolific but Toni’s Affection, a son of Always A Virgin, appears to have a slight edge on the division.

    Finally, the filly pacers take the stage and two Rockin Image fillies could take the top two spots, with a Panpacificflight gal in the triple. For Rockin Image, we have Heyhey Mahanah and Image Of Felicia. The other is Feetonthedashboard, who has the best win record of the season in the division.

    Saturday, Aug. 9, the three-year-olds are in the INSS spotlight.

    Soph-filly trotters begin the INSS quartet of finals, each worth $75,000. Streaking Andi’s Alana looks for her seventh win in a row and is bound to own the bulk of win pool. A threat just aside her is Hudson Jesse. She has been consistent and always in the mix this year.

    Soph-filly pacers are next on the bill, with an evenly matched field of 10. Candy’s A Virgin may have a slight edge, with a strong bankroll from only seven races, almost half of them wins.

    The INSS soph-colt trotters seem to be dominated by Double A Cash Hall, with the best earnings, good connections and five of his six starts victories. An outside threat could come from Sonnyforall, who is four for seven in the win column and raring to take on better to prove he is class material. He should be a price in the attempt, too.

    Glamour-boy pacers from the program line up for the INSS and the card’s Satuday nightcap. The mighty Always B Miki is here and coming from his second to Hes Watching in the Meadowlands Pace he will be a prohibitive favorite and rightfully so. He is a good key here, among colts that are nowhere near his prowess.

    Trials By Jousting

    A dozen pacers have been entered for the 2014 edition of the Gold Cup and Saucer at Charlottetown Driving Park. The field of 12 is the fastest field ever assembled. Of the horses entered into the two trials, eight have lifetime marks under 1:50.

    Trial 1 will be raced this Saturday night, Aug. 9. Trainer Ron Burke aims to defend his title with the fastest and richest horse in the field, Aracashe Hanover. The Carl Jamieson-trained millionaire Up The Credit (2011 of the North America Cup winner) is the only entrant from last year’s final. Trainer Rene Allard has two entries in the first trial. Bigtown Hero is new to his stable. Island Jett is Allard’s other entry in Trial 1. Allard obtained “Jett” two starts ago and shows two consecutive miles in 1:53.3 over half-mile tracks. Astor is the only Maritime horse, also in Trial 1. Jason Hughes trains. Trainer Chris Oakes is new to the event. In Trial 1 he sends out Shock It To Em on Saturday.

    Oakes’ other pacer goes in Trial 2 on Monday, Aug. 11. That one is Scott Rocks. Corey Johnson’s first entry in the event goes in the second trial. He is Wazzup Wazzup. Trainer Patrick Shepherd sends Duke Did It and Take It Back Terry is the second Burke starter. The third Allard entry is Mickey Hanover and the last entry is Mach Wheel for trainer Shane Arsenault.

    “Aracache” will take all the money in Trial 1. Up The Credit will get action, even having post. The real danger, of course, is Bigtown Hero, who will be all out for his first appearance under the tutelage of Allard. 

    Trial 2 may be a better wagering event, with no star names on board. Mach Wheel could be the pace commander here, taking it from start to finish with his inherited Mach Three speed.

    Empire Breeders Strike Back

    Soph pacers battle for a quarter-million dollars in purse monies at Tioga Downs on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 10. The finals of the Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) are the featured events on the sires stakes-filled card.

    The filly final appears to be a match race between elimination winners Major Dancer and Precocious Beauty. Major Dancer won her elim after scratching lame from a sires stakes at Yonkers to follow it up with a workout the next day. She is a talented filly and should definitely not be discounted from the race.

    Precocious Beauty has been in need of redemption. World champion at two, she pulled first over and managed to hold off Delightful Dragon to win her elim in 1:51.4. She is vulnerable, and will likely be involved in the early pace.

    While Delightful Dragon was ½ -length shy of picking her post, the Three Diamonds winner has steadily regained her form. Second to speedy mare Clear View Hanover at the Meadowlands two starts back, she tackled her age group from post 7 at Yonkers to win from first over in 1:54.1. She draws a post that will likely put her in the center of the action, allowing her to take cover when needed and sweep by horses at a price.

    In the colt final, the majority feels it will be an exhibition by He’s Watching. Winner of the Meadowlands Pace, he’s certainly speedy and can capitalize when given a trip. Over a sloppy track in his elim he was only ½ -length better than Jk Endofanera in 1:51.1 (note that he possibly interfered with Jk Endofanera but was cleared by the judges).

    Even though he has lost to He’s Watching twice, Jk Endofanera will likely be given a cover trip, seeing as he cannot grind first over as was proven in the first-half-speedy “Pace” final. There will certainly be speed in the race, with Winds Of Change possessing agility but it will be Jk Endofanera’s redemption and he’ll likely be a great price since many jumped off his bandwagon, hopping into the fan group of He’s Watching.

    Picture Perfect

    Fresh off of standardbred racing’s marquee event, the soph-trotting division returns to the stakes spotlight on Friday, Aug.8, at the Meadows, where two divisions of the $120,000 Currier & Ives are set to go.

    With only six males in both splits, it is not surprising to see that these are two-horse races, so to speak. The opening division will be a match between Amped Up Hanover and Wheelsandthelegman. Amped Up Hanover won a division of the Townsend Ackerman (TA) on Hambletonian day, doing so on the front in 1:54.2. Wheelsandthelegman also raced in a split of the TA but faltered after a powerful shot to the top from the outside. Our preference is Wheelsandthelegman in this match-up, as his good draw and raw speed should put him in front at the finish.

    The other division is between Il Sogno Dream and Skates N Plates, with Southwind Spirit playing the role of wild card. Il Sogno Dream was fourth in the Hambletonian, a classy effort but perhaps exaggerated. The Hambo was a fast mile, with third place being 11 lengths off the stretch-battling Trixton and Nuncio. Il Sogno Dream happened to be in the right place at the right time and closed into third but was soon passed by Harper Blue Chip, who also got a nice trip. With all this in mind, this division sets up to be a nice one to beat the chalk

    Skates N Plates will obviously be the second choice, due to the lack of form in the field. His break in his last start can be ignored, since he has no other record of such blemish. He also won a division of the Arden Downs at the Meadows going wire to wire. At the right price, he can certainly upset

    Southwind Spirit is the interesting entrant. Off since his third in the Valley Victory nine months ago at the Meadowlands, he has two qualifiers, with his first being on July of this year. He galloped through the stretch but went 1:57. Next out, he set easy fractions on the lead to finish in 1:55.3. Off a long layoff, he might need a start, but could make the exotics pay well.

    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.


    8/8/14, +Larrys Dream R5; +Whipmeintoshape R8; +Carson City Road R10; +Western Heart R10
    8/9/14, Blown Away R2

    8/8/14, +Sarcastic Man R10

    8/7/14, +Kingofthejungle R5; Tellitlikeitis R9; Lyonssomewhere R11

    Running Aces
    8/9/14, Flukie Flight R3

    8/7/14, +Still Electric R3
    8/8/14, Lauderdale R7

    8/8/14, Trotting Trice R2; Jitterbug Hanover R6

    8/9/14, +QB Killa R1

    8/8/14, +Cathy’s Princess R4

    8/7, Natural Habitat R6
    8/8/14, +Outa My Head R3; +Charisma Hanover R12

    Ray Cotolo contributes to each edition.      

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