Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Battlefield Breeders Crown: The Older Divisions

The Breeders Crown series at Woodbine Racetrack on Oct. 27 includes four-year-olds and up from both sexes and gaits: The Mare Trot, the Open Trot (males), the Open Mare Pace and the Open Pace (one mare against males).

Read all of the archived result stories at Hambletonian Society and get your account at TwinSpires to keep up with all the great harness bets.

Along with our TwinSpires blog, here is an analysis for those events, concentrating on our suggested contenders that we feel are worthy overlays or key winners due to their overwhelming chances of winning the event.

The valued contenders

The Open Mare Trot launches the series Saturday. This group includes Autumn Escapade, a friend of our betting bankroll since she began her campaign as a mare. Canada has been a healthy venue for her over the years. This season she spent a lot of time in Pennsylvania, with top mares at Pocono, and only won a single race.

But her Breeders Crown elim was impressive, some proof that she is returning to familiar territory where she excelled. She got a great spot early in that race and then became buried by three-quarters. She managed to shake free from foes on both sides and use a strong brush to get second while still charging.

A threat to her and the favorites will be Bax Of Life. She is a must for exotics. Her elim was powerful. She was extra game leaving from post 10 and held on with grace to get fourth after a long journey.

The Open Trot is a small field, which includes overseas champion Commander Crowe but presents a major hero of the division this year, Chapter Seven.

A good reason why Chapter Seven has become the unlikely leader of this group is that he is only a four-year-old. Maturing at the end of a sophomore season that presented five losses in 10 starts against a particularly talented crop (including Daylon Magician and Mister Herbie, also in this field), he came back to defeat older and more experienced steeds at four with regularity.

Beating him in this short field will be a chore, though the invader offers more hope than value. Commander Crowe has literally been all over the map in Europe and has made over a $1.5 million in 2012.

All you can hope for to dig up an upset has to do with Hot Shot Blue Chip. He is the only one here that has defied the others with speed and success, not counting “Crowe.” I wouldn’t expect much from such an upset, as the size of this field give the edge to Chapter Seven but if we need to go out on a limb for a price, Hot Shot Blue Chip gets our support.

The Open Mare Pace offers the talents of a mare that we began to support mid season who has done so well her connections bring her into this fray via supplement money, which is always an investment in faith. She is Rebeka Bayama and last week she won in a “Crown” sideshow event for her division, scorching the oval in 1:48.4.  

Rebeka Bayama is 3-1 on the morning line but will still offer some value, as Drop The Ball should get the bettors’ bulk of win money and last year’s winner, Anndrovette, is bound to pick up heavy support, especially being on the inside of the two mentioned.  

Closing the event for 2012 is the charge of the heavy brigade, so to speak, the stalwart elder pacing males in the Open Pace. Only this year a brave mare takes on the boys. She is Put On A Show. She is up against tons of iron, so to speak, and although she wants to pace into history by doing what no mare has done before in this series, we don’t feel she is up to the task.
Nor do we see a repeat in last year’s Bettor Sweet victory. Certainly the seven-year-old will be offering far less in odds than last season when he won as an outsider. That alone turns us off. However, we like the horse that last beat him, Golden Receiver. 

Though Golden Receiver defeated Bettor Sweet at Pocono Downs and then lost to him at The Red Mile and in a Woodbine Open prep for this event, this pacer has remarkable resilience and has come back strong throughout the season after displaying disappointing miles. He will certainly be a decent price among this group, which includes mega-money-maker Foiled Again and Hypnotic Blue Chip, who came back from retirement to swarm through fields of older pacers. 

The older divisions always make for challenging handicapping, as throughout the stakes season there is rarely a dominating figure. Aside from Chapter Seven in the Open Trot, no other horse or mare on either gait has been as reliable as his or her odds indicated.
This is a good reason for our choices, which as usual stand out from the mainstream-handicapping crowd. Any one can make a good case for most of these entries, which opens the realm of possibilities for those of us seeking the true overlay. The cases we are making become more acceptable under the circumstances.

Post time for the Breeders Crown finals on Saturday, Oct. 27 will be a special early post of 6:30 p.m. [EDT]. The finals will be followed live on TwinSpires @FrankCotolo and @RayCotolo and @TwinSpires.

Read all of the archived result stories at Hambletonian Society and get your account at TwinSpires to keep up with all the great harness bets.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sophomores scuffle, mares’ malaise

Breeders Crown action continues with eliminations for the three-year-old colt and filly pacers, three-year-old colt trotters and the open mare trotters.  

Two eliminations will be contested for the three-year-old filly pacers.  

The first looks to be a battle between American Jewel and Economy Terror, though we take a look at their underdog rivals.  

Ramalama has shown significant improvement within the last few months. She raced very well on the New York Sires Stakes circuit, showing she was capable of challenging these fillies at Lexington during the Grand Circuit meeting.  

The other value play in here is Bettor B Lucky. She has been on a slight layoff, skipping The Red Mile and qualifying at Freehold. She is fresher than these other fillies and could put on quite a show in this event.  

The second elimination favorite, Romantic Moment, drew the far outside and gives rivals to her inside a decent shot.  

We will take Handsoffmycookie. She has not raced against the top fillies since last year’s Breeders Crown but has gotten the luck of fast miles and tough rivalries in this division to tire some of the top filly foes. She should be very sharp returning to top company this week.  

The three-year-old colt trotters will also contest two eliminations.  

Little Brown Fox headlines the first group and is the only horse in this field to have recently raced with the top trotters. Our mind, on the other hand, is concentrated upon Prestidigitator.  

The Kadabra son, who has scored for us this year and was our unsuccessful Hambletonian choice, has a hometown advantage in Toronto, as he is a regular on this circuit. He draws into the weaker of two elims and should be a great value wager against Little Brown Fox, who is arguably as good as the top dog, Market Choice, on any given day. 

Market Share dominates the second elimination for the glamour-boy trotters. If you are ready to bet against Market Share, calm down. He’ll likely romp in the elim at a poor price (even low-priced overlays can be over bet). He could be vulnerable in the final based on the other 14 trotters performances this week.  

The final group of sophomore eliminations will feature three-year-old colt pacers.  

Thinking Out Loud and Bettor’s Edge will likely be heavy betting interests in the first elim. We went to their outside and took Hillbilly Hanover to win this elimination.  

He produced a stunning effort in the Tattersalls Pace, racing first over into the far turn and nearly passing Sweet Lou at the wire. This colt has been improving recently and is maturing late in the season, which is a key sign to look for in a Breeders Crown upset.  

The second chapter attracts top names—A Rocknroll Dance, Michaels Power and Sweet Lou among them. Sweet Lou has shown improvement but remains suspect to coming up short, Michaels Power, a supplement, has always been vulnerable among his piers and A Rocknroll Dance is recovering from throat surgery. 

Mel Mara looks to be the “now” horse and the value wager. Coming off a victory versus Michaels Power, Mel Mara came back onto the stakes scene with a victory in the Bluegrass Stakes at The Red Mile. He returned a week later and finished a strong fourth in the Tattersalls Pace. The public may ignore him this week because of the brand names racing around him but he should provide tough competition against the top pacers.

The final elim scheduled for Saturday is for the Open Mare Trot field.

Two horses caught our eye in this wide-open division, Tamla Celeber S and Beatgoeson Hanover.

Tamla Celeber S had two strong starts in America, one in the Pride In Progress and the other in the Allerage. Though she was disappointing in the Allerage, she ships up north this week and should may use herself up early like she did in those two miles, resulting in a powerful mile.

Beatgoeson Hanover is coming off of a great race in the Allerage. She was a closing third, behind Frenchfriesnvinegar. She draws the rail and will likely be in the mix early and should provide value in this contest.

See the TwinSpires blog for more Breeders Crown action and news and contacts for next week’s single-night finals program.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Entries for the $6-million Breeders Crown finals were revealed on Oct. 16. There are 145 entries for the series.

There was one big surprise; pacing mare Put On A Show was one of 10 pacers entered in the $500,000 Open Pace, a first in Breeders Crown history.

The other nine older pacers, all males, are Aracache Hanover, Bettor Sweet, Foiled Again, Foreclosure N, Golden Receiver, Hypnotic Blue Chip, Razzle Dazzle, Up The Credit and We Will See.

The $600,000 Crown Trot has only six older males, including division-leader Chapter Seven and foreign invitee Commander Crowe. Former "Crown" champ Arch Madness, Hot Shot Blue Chip, Daylon Magician and Mister Herbie are also in the field.

The following races will go straight to finals: $500,000 two-year-old Filly Trot with 10 entered; $500,000 three-year-old Filly Trot with 11 entered; $331,500 Mare Pace with 11 entered; $500,000 Crown Pace with 10 entered; and the $600,000 Crown Trot with six entered.

All other divisions have eliminations and there are some bye situations. Freshmen eliminations will be held Friday (Oct. 19) and the sophomore divisions requiring eliminations will race Saturday (Oct. 20). The first five finishers from each elim will advance to the final. Elimination winners get to pick their post position for the following week's final.

Complete elimination and final fields will be available when byes and elimination draws are finalized. In the Thursday morning TwinSpires harness blog, a bettors' analysis will be presented, along with additional wagering suggestions for the finals.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Trio supplements in the theater

Making the deadline for supplementing to the Breeders Crown are two soph colts and a mare pacer.

In the glamour-boy pacing division, Michael’s Power will join the event, as will glamour-boy colt trotter Intimidate.

Mare pacer Rebeka Bayama also joined the show, making the Oct. 15 deadline.
Little Brown Jug winner Michael’s Power will have to do what he has not been able to do for most of the season in the biggest events, that is, he must beat foes that have readily taken him on over the course of the year.

Though he is the leading money-winner (Michael’s Power has earned $1,311,912 this year) for the division, he has far more confidence coming from his connections than he is apt to receive from bettors. If Sweet Lou and Pet Rock take part, Michael's Power has his work cut out for him.

Ontario-based Intimidate has raced recently in conditioned company but his connections put up the fee of $62,500 to face the monstrous success of Hambletonian winner Market Share, as well as recent Kentucky Futurity winner My MVP (those entries due Oct. 16), not to mention a host of other eligibles that have scorched the stakes scene this season.

Rebeka Bayama is a five-year-old costing $37,500 to race in the Breeders Crown Mare Pace. She won with our support on Sept. 1 at Mohawk.

Twitter accounts @FrankCotolo and @RayCotolo will be active real time during the elims and finals.
There will also be news and updates on Twitter using #BreedersCrown. Twitter users are encouraged to use the hashtag when tweeting about the event.

Facebook users can stay informed by liking the 2012 Breeders Crown at Woodbine Racetrack Facebook page.

Fans can also visit Woodbine’s Breeders Crown webpage, which features news and videos.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Northern lights: best of all divisions aim for Woodbine

The time has come for the connections of horses in all divisions to decide about racing in the Breeders Crown series Woodbine Racetrack. This means, aside from horses already eligible, decisions need to be made on foreign invitees and supplemental entries. 

The race program for the finals is Saturday, Oct. 27 in Toronto, Canada.  

There are no supplements for two-year-olds, so only eligibles will race. Meanwhile, all sophomores wanting to take part will cost their connections $62,500. The same price is listed for the Open Pace, while the Open Trot additions will cost $75,000, the Mare Pace fee is $37,500 and the Mare Trot fee is $31,250.  

Horses eligible to the Breeders Crown events have to officially enter by 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 16.  

Eliminations for all two-year-olds, if needed, are on the Friday, Oct. 19program, while the three-year-old and open eliminations, if needed, are on the Saturday, Oct. 20 program, each with a post time of 7:30 p.m. 

The connections of elim winners get to choose their post position for the finals.
Post time for the Breeders Crown finals on Saturday, Oct. 27 will be a special early post of 6:30 p.m. [EDT]. The finals will be followed live on TwinSpires @FrankCotolo and @RayCotolo and @TwinSpires.

Who’s who?

It is still up in the air if Michael’s Power will supplement to the big event, the soph-colt pace. The decision must be made this weekend and the money, $62,500, must be delivered. 

Driver Scott Zeron has said, “Everyone wants to know what is next for Michael’s Power [after his Flamboro race on Oct. 13].”  

Perhaps other news in the division will inspire Michael’s Power’s connections? 

For instance, Bolt The Duer won’t be in the field. His connections have decided the colt isn’t up to it and are quoted as saying he “just wasn’t right.”  

As well, the fate of A Rocknroll Dance in the glamour-boy pacing “Crown” division is pending. A Rocknroll Dance will be going for throat surgery, according to sources, and may not be ready for the Crown cavalcade. Recently, A Rocknroll Dance has been disappointing, moreso than his post-position excuses can explain. The surgery indicates what many suspected, that something was off since he last made his usual charge in a stakes event.  

Put On A Show heads for Toronto off of an Oct. 9 race that broke the Pocono Downs track record for older pacing mares when she won in 1:49. The Chris Ryder-trained mare is wound tight for the Crown, having won 11 of 20 races this season with lifetime earnings of over $2.3 million.  

Keep up with the top horses in the divisions racing to the Crown at the Breeders Crown Countdown and read archived result stories at Hambletonian Society and get your account at TwinSpires to keep up with all the great harness bets.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Back to the ‘Futurity’

The historic Kentucky Futurity and its sister event for fillies only are historic heat-racing events, so, as we are approaching the events as we usually do, concentrating on the heat divisions for our plays. May you have all the luck you need, no less get a good price, in the second heat.

In the first elim heat there are only six going.

Gym Tan Laundry has not lived up to our expectations after winning in Canada and proving we weren’t following him for nothing. That disappointment and the one after that puts him, still, as a 5-2 morning-line co-choice in this small field, which is far too little for us to become involved.

Little Brown Fox is certainly capable of wiring this bunch but he, too, has been wagered to death and coming up short to long-priced colts like Money On My Mind (see elim two).

This leaves us only one genuine upset contender in Another Amaretto. We have to assume that he will be the fourth choice, which is the same in the pecking order of the morning line. At 9-2 among these, especially with Archangel probably eating up the fractions with “Fox,” the short field could make those odds worth it.

Seven go in the second $114,300 elim heat, lead in the morning line (ML) by Guccio. We had him last week, though we expected a bit more of a win price when we made the call, but here we do not agree with the ML in terms of chances.

Tony Alagna has had My MVP in relentless pursuit of his division’s foes and picked up the third spot in the Hambletonian final and his elim. He is much better on a two-turn stage than shorter ovals and last week he already proved that he might be able to win staying closer to the top, without the mighty charge that allowed him to cash many checks.

Futurity Fillies

The first of the two elim heats has, in our opinion, a poor favorite in Chilitodayhottamale. She has not proven to be on a roll, even though last week she embraced The Red Mile surface with fire.

We are forced to look closely at Oasis Dream as the upset contender based on great performances against the aforementioned “Chili” and in the Buckette, where she was the dead-on choice but was short to Canadian Justice (the closer and here in post 2) and our huge longshot Fancy.

Superstar Hanover will get play along with Chili, giving“Oasis” more value.

In the second elim heat we are going to attempt a bold move by taking Bluff over Check Me Out. There is no way for us to incite an upset but Bluff has been getting better and Check Me Out comes into this on the wings of a very long campaign that could begin to wilt at any time, regardless of her domination over this division or the fact that her mentor Ray Schnittker said she will not race in the second heat (he is against heat racing). Still, she could be a victim of more aggressiveness that allows her to be nosed or headed and this may be a good time to catch that scenario, especially since she is more concerned with the Breeders Crown.

Last week Bluff lost, mostly due to a bad step at the start. She still wound up gaining ground to be third at a strongly supported 7-5. She has only to improve as she heads towards mare status.

Stalwart Seniors

Older pacers and trotters go in Allerage Farm features.

The first is for pacing mares and once again Drop The Ball is the early choice on the ML. However, her critical stop from scorched fractions last time, when we beat her with 23-1 Rocklamation, leaves her suspect in our book.

We feel Ginger And Fred has been racing better than her odds since August and can carefully stalk the hot pace here, getting enough real estate late to win as well as thwart the closing Rocklamation.

Next, the older trotting horses, six of the best, will shuffle and struggle, most likely trying to beat Chapter Seven. Linda Toscano’s monstrous four-year-old continues to beat older and here he has to deal with at least four others that are legitimate foes.

Wishing Stone is back from his oversea journeys where he has been productive against the best in European trotting. He is fresh and, of course, he is a veteran of the track, where he won the Kentucky Futurity at three in 2010.

He could be dismissed based on all the facts that should make him a strong contender. That is, the crowd is more aware of “Seven” and Mister Herbie in location and recency and Arch Madness and Hot Shot Blue Chip will share some win money. This leaves Wishing Stone in a probable overlay spot, one which can easily lure our wager.

The mare trotters are next, with Cedar Dove again at the head of the ML line. But this is a very tightly matched bunch and a personal odds line that could be written accurately would go through many drafts. We wish to pass.

The horse pace presents the usual suspects, each guilty of being courageously competitive all season. With Betterthancheddar pulled from the event and in question for the Breeders Crown, we see little reason not to hand this one over to Golden Receiver.

He is arguably the best of the division this season, if only by a mere point, and if he lives up to his ML at 9-2, which is the third choice, he is certainly worth backing.

Keep up with the top horses in the divisions racing to the Crown at the Breeders Crown Countdown and read archived result stories at Hambletonian Society and get your account at TwinSpires to keep up with all the great harness bets.