Monday, November 24, 2014

With aptness of the season

The 30th-anniversary of the Breeders Crown approached with nostalgia and pride. There were many names to drop in the history of a series that many of us have espoused for three decades. Still, what went through my mind was how much of the 30th season appeared irrecoverable by fans and journalists.

So much had changed for so many horses and horsemen by November as the season stretched the limits of perceived time. By the Breeders Crown finals at the Meadowlands, it became evident that many insiders and fans had forgotten the characters that set this season afire at one time or another. Who knew at the beginning of January that such high-profiled people and equines were only to sparkle temporarily?

For instance, by November it was forgotten that Ake Svanstedt rose to superstardom and stayed in the limelight into deep summer. His transatlantic trotter Sebastian K became the fastest trotter of all time. Ake raced Centurion Atm to become the winter-book favorite for the 2015 Hambletonian. Your So Vain, another Ake star, came on the scene and won the initial Hambletonian Maturity.

Sebastian K didn’t supplement to the “Crown” because he couldn’t keep up the monstrous miles. Your So Vain went to the Crown but finished last in the Open Trot final. Centurion Atm didn’t make the frosh-colt-trot final and lost his status as winter-book favorite.

There were other trials that ended badly. In fact, there was one that began and ended badly—it’s the story of He’s Watching. The anticipated launch of his sophomore season disappointed all the forecasters of his glowing season when his first race on his home turf at Yonkers was a debacle. Then he showed promise and then he peaked with a Meadowlands Pace win that his supporters would not believe occurred because so much went wrong for the rest of the better colts in that field.

One of those was Always B Miki, who went on to win and earn respect but the the praise for Hes Watching ensued. Then, Hes Watching began watching all others leave him in the dust, losing and looking terrible losing. He rested and then faced a Crown elim. But by then, Always B Miki ruled and Hes Watching looked at the end of his season, unable to make the Crown final.

By Crown time, Always B Miki was being touted as the division winner and supplemented to the series. His Crown elim victory was a mere complement to already having beaten the best. Then, suffering a pastern fracture, he was scratched from the final. Earlier that day, Limelight Beach, who awoke to win the Little Brown Jug and also won his Crown elim, also bowed out.

As well, Colors A Virgin, who emerged from the Midwest to win the Jugette and came to the Crown supplemented, was looking to win the soph-filly pacer title but she couldn’t overcome a natty trip in the Crown final. It may turn up to be a blemish on her fine record.

What about Shake It Cerry? Sure, she was the Crown favorite but after she blew the Hambletonian Oaks, people stampeded to support Lifetime Dream, who defeated her in the “Oaks.” This abandonment was absurd. By Crown time, Shake It Cerry was finally getting the respect she never should have lost.

This leaves us with the most outrageous disregard of the season—turning away from Father Patrick. The sudden splurge of support for Nuncio is still a mystery. There should never have been such a turnaround, one that made the press shout “redemption” when Father Patrick won the Crown final. Father Patrick had nothing to redeem—he was always tons better than Nuncio before and after Takter got hold of him.

The public, however, forgot the rest of this season. It awarded Nuncio greatness, when two of the four races he won from Father Patrick were circumstantial because Father Patrick galloped instead of trotting. Let’s mention, too, who we have forgotten here—Trixton. He won the Hambletonian over Nuncio and as good as he got he never defeated Father Patrick.

All of that and plenty more contributes to the contents of harness racing’s 2014, a season that clouded the perspectives of many bettors and journalists. In Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline,” the queen suggests we have “aptness of the season,” a disposition that behaves with appropriateness. In 2014, too many bettors and journalists were apt to act through bias and betrayal, which is just plain dumb.

(photo by Ray Cotolo)

Thank you for following the major Breeders Crown hopefuls on their road to the November Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands by visiting the Breeders Crown Countdown blog and the TwinSpires harness blog weekly. Archived reports can be found at the Hambletonian Society web site.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Breeders Crown finals, 2014 continued

The Breeders Crown finals analysis for Friday (Nov. 21) and Saturday (Nov. 22) continue from the TwinSpires harnessblog on the main site.

There will be only one more edition of this blog for 2014, which will be an epilogue essay addressing the the season. It is scheduled for the week following the finals.

This blog looks at the older events for both sexes on both gaits.

Friday, Nov. 21

Mares Trot ($250,000)

Bee A Magician will headline the wagering here, no doubt, but she will have to work for this victory. Classic Martine has been a problem for her, especially at the Meadowlands, and Ma Chere Hall goes for new connections (she chased “Bee” a lot at three and picked up some good checks). D’Orsay, of course, is still the highest priced winner we have supported this season, winning over the summer to pay $100 or so, and she is always available to topple a field at a price.

And then there’s Mistery Woman, who is getting better with age and recently ignored by the public when winning. Last week’s 15-1 win by Handover Belle depended upon Bee’s outland journey, while “Mistery” went off a notch less at 14-1. Mistery had the most impressive trip and should once again go off higher than she deserves. Bee will pick up the place, most likely getting a far better trip.

Saturday, Nov. 22

Mares Pace ($281,250)

Let’s allow the public to believe Anndrovette can win every Breeders Crown Mares Pace in which she is entered and take the odds down too far so we can rally with a price in this here-we-go-again group that always delivers deep challenged miles. Two supplements, Yagonnakissmeornot and Venus Delight, have more to lose than the regulars but don’t expect the others to make that an edge. If the two or three that want the front get too frisky with the fractions, the main closer, Rocklamation, will eat up the stretch with her one-dimensional gait.

However, this could wind up a strategic win with a last-mare-standing finish. Multi-talented Somwherovrarainbow will be in a good spot to avoid duels and dig in late. As well, Camille is on the rail and may be gifted more room than usual (she has disappointed a few times as a choice so perhaps she would like to be on the board as an outsider).

Open Pace ($400,000)

There are only seven stalwart pacers here, yet there could be a good price on Sweet Lou, considering he has not been scoring ones of late. He is still the best here and could come right back to his seasonal shape and eat up all four quarters. Some of these horses have loyal fans, so expect the win pool to be spread out. Foiled Again, Clear Vision, Thinking Out Loud and State Treasurer all have followers that will play for some kind of glory, as opposed to profit.

Open Trot ($500,000)

Four veteran trotters show up due to byes, so that means Commander Crowe, Creatine, Intimidate and Market Share had a week off to prepare for this heavy mile; heavy because the group is fast and experienced and each is full of his or herself. The she is Maven, who won the elim impressively against the males last week, going for the first time in the Takter barn. We were second last week with Your So Vain and that race brings us to this race regardless of the freshened foursome. One of that four, of course, is the foreign Commander Crowe. How his style affects the mile remains to be seen but considering the mixture of early-and-late speed here, Your So Vain is in the perfect spot and could be the perfect price for a score (which his trainer, Ake Svanstedt, would love to happen since his prize trotter, Sebastian K—who has beaten “Crowe” in Europe—is not in this event).


The Breeders Crown Countdown blog and the TwinSpires harness blog weekly, with archived reports on the results at the Hambletonian Society web site, have brought bettors exclusive coverage through 2014. Thank you for making our decisions a part of your wagering strategy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thirteen eliminations, supplements and more on first of two Meadowlands weekends

Here is some Breeders Crown news as we enter elimination weekend at the Meadowlands.

Just as we predicted, 
Always B Miki connections bought in as a supplement to take on the glamour-boy pacers in the Breeders Crown. The cost to supplement to the colt pace is $62,500. The Indiana-bred is trained by Joe Holloway. The colt won $778,982 this season, beating some of the top glamour boys. He is coming off a win in the Monument Circle, also as we predicted.

There were more supplements. Another we predicted is soph-filly pacer Color's A Virgin. She is also an Indiana-bred and you may remember she was our pick when she won the Jugette and then continued to win at Hoosier.

Two more soph-filly pacers, 
Sayitall BB and Weeper, and a pair of mare pacers, Yagonnakissmeornot and Venus Delight, were also supported by their owners with big cash to join the fields.
Yagonnakissmeornot is a $31,250 supplemental entry to the $281,250 Crown Mare Pace, which goes straight to a final next week. Venus Delight also gets to race in that final.  

Matron winner Weeper, trained by Kelly O’Donnell, and Sayitall BB from the Burke Racing Stable are soph-filly pacers whose connections also bought in to the event for them. Half of all supplemental fees are added to respective purses. The soph-colt pace and filly purses will be $531,250 and $593,750, respectively. 

TwinSpires will be live at the Meadowlands for the events. Check the TwinSpires harness blog by clicking here and get a jump on analyzing the elims.

The Breeders Crown Countdown continues through the weekend of the finals thanks to TwinSpires and the Hambletonian Society.

Cartoons by Thom Pye


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Eliminations loom boldly as deadlines approach to commit

The Breeders Crown eliminations are where the spotlight turns at the Meadowlands Racetrack, hosting the $5.4 million 12-race Breeders Crown series. It’s decision time for foreign invitees, supplements and entries for the “Crown” which holds finals on Friday (Nov. 21) and Saturday (Nov. 22). By Friday (Nov. 7), foreign horses invited to participate must declare by noon.

Supplements for the three-year-old and open events are due Monday (Nov. 10) by noon. All supplement amounts are listed in U.S. dollars below (there are no supplements for the two-year-old races).

Gtd. Purse-Event-Supplement
$500,000-Three-Year-Old Events-$62,500
$500,000-Open Trot-$62,500
$400,000-Open Pace-$50,000
$250,000-Mare Pace-$31,250
$250,000-Mare Trot-$31,250

Horses eligible to the Breeders Crown events must enter by 9 a.m. on Tuesday (Nov. 11). Eliminations, if needed, will occur on Friday (Nov. 14) and Saturday (Nov. 15), both nights starting at the regular post time of 7:15 p.m.

As of this writing, Always B Miki’s connections have confirmed that the colt will supplement to the soph-colt pacing Crown. Still pending is the status of Color A Virgin in the soph-filly pace edition.

Sebastian K won’t be supplementing for the older trotters and neither will Natural Herbie.

The official rules state that “elimination races, if necessary, will be raced for a minimum purse of $25,000 each on Friday (Nov. 14) and Saturday (Nov. 15). If an elimination is required because more than 11, but less than 14 horses are entered, there will be a single elimination to “qualify” only enough horses that can be accommodated by the number of positions in the front tier of the starting gate.

“If there are eliminations, post positions in the final will be determined by an open draw with the exception that elimination winners in an order determined by lot, will draw for post positions number 1 through 5 in the final. All other finalists, including foreign invitees, will be placed in an open draw for the remaining post positions. Those horse(s) that receive a bye into the final will be in the open draw for post positions in the final.”

Four Breeders Crown distaff events will be raced Friday (Nov. 21) and the remaining eight finals will be raced on Saturday (Nov. 22). Both nights have a regular Meadowlands post time of 7:15 p.m. (EST).


Follow major BC hopefuls on their road to the November Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands at the Breeders Crown Countdown blog and the TwinSpires harness blog weekly, with archived reports on the results at the Hambletonian Society web site.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Always B Miki poised to make the plunge to prove he may be best

This Friday, Oct. 31, Hoosier Park’s $275,000 stakes, The Monument Circle, offers 10 glamour-boy pacers another chance at a big paycheck before dropping into the box for the Breeders Crown elims.

But three of the field’s members are not eligible to the “Crown,” and one of them is possibly the best soph-colt pacer—Always B Miki.

Always B Miki first came to the attention of the public when he was second in The Meadowlands Pace. Leaving from post 9, he never saw the wood. He was six wide into the first turn and settled on the outside with cover but gapped that cover before putting on some speed after three-quarters. Then, he had to fan five wide and he closed strongly to soar home second. Hes Watching sat a perfect trip, going second over late, came out and rolled home following tired ones, as the tremendous fractions forced horses to walk the last hundred yards.

Always B Miki was better than Hes Watching in the “Pace” and is now superior to most in the Monument Circle field. Hes Watching is not in the field at Hoosier Friday. After a few terrible, though predictable losses following the Pace, Hes Watching may be done for the season.

When Hes Watching won the Pace, we still considered Jk Endofanera the division’s leader, a status greatly disagreed about among many insiders, all of whom embraced the Pace winner and practically anointed him with the divisional crown. No one saw the Pace win as opportunistic, except us, and we went on to beat Hes Watching while he burned bettors’ money.

But “Jk,” lost in the smoke of the Pace fractions, went on campaigning successfully after losing the Pace and is still kicking, coming off some wins as he faces the Monument Circle field.

Also in the Monument Circle is our Little Brown Jug winner, Limelight Beach and Windy City Pace winner Big Boy Dreams, who is another Crown ineligible but hardly makes the cut compared to “Miki” and Jk.

Six of the colts are from the Ron Burke barn but only Jk appears to be in the direct path of Miki for the lion’s share of this purse. Winning this race would put trainer Joe Holloway and the connections of Miki into serious conversations about supplementing Miki to the Crown.

Miki is 10 for 17, many at Hoosier where the Indiana-bred devours any competition in his state division, but Miki has beaten some of the best and comes into this affair with $641,482 earnings, second only to Jk, who is just short of a million.

There is no way for us to suspect that Jk and Miki cancel one another out, leaving room for an upset, we simply see what we have seen all along being the core of the race. Jk will drop into the Crown box whether he wins this or not but seeing Miki’s name there depends on a forceful win in the Monument Circle and that is something we feel will propel a win here, even if his connections decide not to dig into their pockets.

It’s hard to assign a fair price to Miki but he may be more than usual considering the star-studded lineup and the Burke barrage involved.

The other non-eligible is Bluehourpower, one of our Indiana Sires Stakes winners two weeks back. Also in the field are Crown hopefuls At Press Time, Forty Five Red, Let’s Drink On It, Somewhere in LA and Jet Airway.


Follow major BC hopefuls on their road to the November Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands at the Breeders Crown Countdown blog and the TwinSpires harness blog weekly, with archived reports on the results at the Hambletonian Society web site.

Cartoons by Thom Pye

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dayton offers derbies for elder eligibles

This Friday, Oct. 24, the newest harness track, Dayton Raceway in Ohio, lays out $282,000 worth of purses for older pacers and trotters in the wake of its first meet.

Breeders Crown hopefuls from the aged categories on both gaits add one more event to their agenda before the “Crown” elims in November with these two hefty pursed races and some of the best have come west for the chances to pump their payrolls.

The pacing field features seven that shoot for the best chunk of $122,000.

Two of Ron Burke’s best free-for-allers, Clear Vision and Foiled Again leave behind the consistent Midwesterner Night Pro. That one is 11 for 21 and as fast as them all.

Apprentice Hanover is always a challenger and from post 7 comes Dancin Yankee, who seems to scoot the best when not up against the big Burke boys on the stakes circuit.

Brian Brown brings two with Santa Fe Beachboy and Beach Memories. These two need some awesome trips to nail a win here.

In the scheme of things, Apprentice Hanover should go off at higher odds than his chances. Those chances are so good because he could get the kind of trip that gives him a big paycheck, that is, pacing off of the Burke boys. That pair will get some battle action from the Brown pair because they are not going to roll around the three turns without making a move.

But one move by either will only be enough to discourage the steps needed for Foiled Again to win and Clear Vision may be tangled in those moves, too. Night Pro probably won’t try to strike until late and could be second in a large exacta with “Apprentice,” who could fly while relaxing in stride as the battles commence around him.

The trotting derby is worth $160,000 and with the Yonkers International Trot Preview taking some of the star power out of this event there are still nine stalwart trotters, including the “now” horse, Creatine.

Some names not bantered about line the field’s list and make this a fine betting race. For instance, Opening Night, who shone a bit in a Hambletonian final a few seasons back; Dw’s Ny Yank, a Burke earner that has cashed some big checks; Wishing Stone, the internationally experienced bloke who has been working hard for team Burke; and Daylon Magician, who carries trainer/driver Jack Moiseyev around (it has been a bit since Jack left the Ontario circuit).

While Creatine collects the most bets in the win pool and Market Share takes his fans’ support, we would like to see Dw’s Ny Yank dismissed, his odds bulging from post 2. He should get one hell of a trip in the catbird seat while his stable mate, Wishing Stone, guns for a good position early. “Daylon” may be a part of the first-half speed that could collapse. Certainly Market Share hopes it will, as he will probably be first up and firing late.

All of this could give Dw’s Ny Yank the few extra steps he needs to tap dance over the finish line and beat Creatine for a strong-paying win. 


Follow major BC hopefuls on their road to the November Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands at the Breeders Crown Countdown blog and the TwinSpires harness blog weekly, with archived reports on the results at the Hambletonian Society web site.

Cartoons by Thom Pye

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Yonkers Trot elims on tap

This Saturday, Oct. 18, the glamour-boy trotters get another shot at big money, as two $40,000 Yonkers Trot elimination divisions set the boys up for the final’s field on Oct. 25.

The final is worth $500,000, as the Yonkers Trot remains a major stake for the division, as well as a traditional staple in the stakes season.

Although Jimmy Takter trotters have a presence, the top dog in the division, his Father Patrick, is not in the elim mix.

Nuncio, however, is here, and will be leading the win-pool totals off of his $1-million-plus earnings, his eight-for-13 win record, the Takter name and driver John Campbell. Before the Kentucky Futurity, Nuncio played second fiddle to his stable mate Father Patrick. Nuncio won the Kentucky Futurity (a single heat this year) and arrives at this stakes elim with more than he has ever offered.

Once again, an Ake Svanstedt property may have a good chance of making Nuncio work for a win, if not be beaten. Dd’s Hitman has raced only nine times and has earned $56,803 for the efforts. He is getting better and if he brings his talent up a notch here, he could deliver a fine win price.

Exotic-wise, you may want to ignore the 8 hole for Trond Smedshammer’s Skates N Plates and use him as an element as Trond hands the reins over to George Brennan and will send “Skates” out hard looking for a berth in the final.

The second elimination has a few of the division’s second-string success stories in Gural Hanover, Hillustrious, Datsyuk (one of only two horses to beat Father Patrick this season if you don’t count the Hambletonian debacle), and especially Flyhawk El Durado. Though EL Titan is listed, the colt is also listed in the Maywood Galt Stakes on Oct. 17 (see TwinSpires harness blog). It is more than likely the colt will go in Chicago since drawing post 8 here.

Ron Burke handles Gural Hanover and Hillustrious, coming from the 1 and 2 post, respectively, so expect plenty of action on them. Datsyuk is bound to be among the top three public choices. But Flyhawk El Durado—a colt well acquainted with Yonkers—may not take as much support as he has in the past against New York-breds. Pound for pound, “Flyhawk” is probably a better horse than both of Burke’s and if he is third choice or worse there is no exception for us about who gets the win wager.  

Soph-pacing fillies negotiate for the Lady Maud Final’s field with two $20,000 elims on the same program. There are only five in round one and we like Fancy Desire in a romp. She may get to be second choice if Burke’s A La Notte Hanover picks up driver Brennan, who is listed on both fillies. It would be good to give Burke Brennan, it would boost our odds in this small field.

Six go in round two and it seems to belong to the obvious Act Now. This could be a great night for Brennan, who gets Act Now in this elim. As a key horse, Act Now may work well to pay decently in an exacta with Do Your Job.


Follow major BC hopefuls on their road to the November Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands at the Breeders Crown Countdown blog and the TwinSpires harness blog weekly, with archived reports on the results at the Hambletonian Society web site.

Cartoons by Thom Pye

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Historics at Harrah’s

The Historic Series has come to America’s historic city, led by Breeders Crown eligibles.

On Friday, Oct. 10, Harrah’s Philadelphia presents a trio of Historic Series Debutante events. Then on Sunday, Oct. 12, the Historic Harriman and Historic Goshen highlight the harness program.

Ideal Nuggets, Deli Beach and Happiness are eligibles that account for half of the first Debutante field. Happiness is two for two and the lightly raced filly has everything to gain headed for the “Crown.” She may be a decent price, too, considering a few non-eligibles with good records.

Another sextet of Debutantes features four eligibles, one a strong favorite. That’s My Little Delight. The Noel Daley
student has only a maiden win but has racked up the most earnings in the field and the second fastest mark. Our contender is Rock Me Gently, a firm competitor in 10 tries. Be aware she may become an underlay if the fans begin wagering on her due to driver Yannick Gingras. He is on a popular streak and many bettors like to bet on drivers over horses. We like the driver, of course, but we support the horse no matter who guides him.

The last of the trio also offers a field of six, with three eligibles: Seeking Nirvana, Southwind Roulette and Bossers Joy. Southwind Roulette will take all the money but that will just make Bossers Joy odds better than her chances. The Kevin McDermott filly has raced with some top talent, though only breaking her maiden in the win column.

Sunday, Oct. 12, the features are a pair of E.H. Harriman frosh-colt trots and a trio of Goshen Cup miles for the frosh-colt pacers.

In the Harriman’s first trot, five of the seven entered are maidens. Judge the value of the overwhelming favorite for youself but Don’t Mind Me towers over the crew in money and experience. He is a key for the win in exotics, at least.

The other Harriman, non-eligible Ralph R will get a lot of support and it may take some money from eligible Explosive Drama, who from the rail should be best. Beware of Jimmy Takter’s Ferragamo on the outside. He is not an eligible but could be a big spoiler or an exacta property.

The first Goshen Cup features Ron Burke’s eight-for-eight colt Yankee Bounty. Under the radar here, though, may come the ineligible Takter colt, Bet You. With money also going to In The Arsenal, whose two Lexington wins were opportunity-ignited, Takter’s good earner will offer good money along with good chances.

The next Goshen Cup split won’t offer the price on Hall Of Terror that we got last week but a few guys in here may spread the win money thin. Asap Hanover may turn out the top choice due to his speed badge but Wild Again has been knocking on the win door and will get attention. Still, we like Lone Survivor, because he has been racing with foes less green and has made money doing it at odds we like.

Finally, the remaining Goshen Cup, six more colts, is a good spot for My Hero Ron, who may be greatly overlooked due to Takter’s Soto from the inside.


Cartoon by Thom Pye

Follow major BC hopefuls on their road to the November Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands at the Breeders Crown Countdown blog and the TwinSpires harness blog weekly, with archived reports on the results at the Hambletonian Society web site.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Takter's top duo rule futurities

For the first time, the historic Kentucky Futurity will make more history, as the soph-colt trot will be held in a single mile--a first for the event.

Only nine colt trotters have been entered for the $435,000 event on Sunday, Oct. 5, at The Red Mile.

The Filly Futurity will also be on the program.

The main event for the glamour-boy trotters leaves little room for handicapping or betting, as Father Patrick takes on the other eight:

Dasyuk, Dee Dee's Hitman, Hillustrious, Il Sogno Dream, Lightning Force, Martiniwithmuscle, Mr Lindy and Nuncio.

Barring another strange Hambletonian-like incident--the odds of that are long--Father Patrick has no worries about beating this group, even Dasyuk, who beat him by a hair once this year.

The fillies may not offer more action, either.

Their futurity, also a single mile, features:

Chivaree Hanover, Heaven's Door, Highest Peak, Scream And Shout, Shake It Cerry, Vanity Matters and Yoga.

Yoga is a late-developing gal that shares the Jimmy Takter tag with Shake It Cerry.

Heaven's Door has been competitive with "Cerry" and others in the division.

Mr Lindy will go a good mile against Cerry but she is hard to back as an upset.

Scream And Shout has awoken a bit and may be second best here if she puts her all into it.

So we are left, again, with the two Takter giants, Father Patrick and Shake It Cerry. Post position won't matter and neither will drivers (Cerry's driver Ron Pierce is always saying after she wins that he just goes along for the ride).

The futurities may break speed records for either of the top two but the stakes won't make history for public opinion: the top two are the tops.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fiery speed on The Red Mile in Bluegrass Stakes

The Red Mile hosts another powerful Grand Circuit meeting in Lexington, Kentucky for two weeks and the first Friday program features eight divisions of the lucrative Bluegrass Stakes.

The Walnut Hall, LTD Bluegrass for two-year-old colt trot offers five races handling the 41 entries and freshman filly pacers split three ways in the Crawford Farms Bluegrass (BG).

The first colt-trot BG, worth $78,400, marks the return of Centurion Atm, the Peter Haughton Memorial winner and 2015 winter-book favorite for the Hambletonian. The colt appears to have it all over this group, though two others have won as many races. Watch for improvement from Whataworkout, who is one for one and may be packing heat yet to be displayed.

In round two ($78,400), undefeated Billy Flynn looks for his eighth-straight win while facing the four-for-nine Ray Schnittker colt Gabe The Bear Dean. Perhaps those two should fear Muscle Diamond, who has a clear shot at an upset? We like the Muscle Hill colt who has yet to pull the plugs on his speed.

For $79,400, nine colts go in the next BG event on the program. It is difficult to look beyond Habitat, who we backed in the “Wellwood” and whose performace was breathtaking, to say the least. He may have what it takes to go all the way in the late-season stakes. The RC Royalty colt, Wings Of Royalty, should also be in the mix prominently.

Next for the colts at $78,400, a pick of the public’s (and ours) in a New York Sires Stakes Final, Crazy Wow, looks to take on colts from other states in this BG. Jimmy Takter’s Uncle Lassie returns to find a better gait and both of these colts, joined by Guess Whos Back, will get plenty of betting action. That leaves us with an outside chance of an upset with Iron. The Frank Antonacci-trained colt from the productive Cantab Hall, tries his third pari-mutuel race and could be a lot better than the first two. His price will not be negotiable, which is great.

The last colt-trot, also for $78,400 with eight at the gate, has the Ron Burke-conditioned Piercewave Hanover ready to suck in all the win-pool dough. But Ake Svanstedt’s Smart As A Whip may be a lot faster than his five-eighths mile mark, his maiden win, and with a Burke and a Jimmy Takter in the field (The Bank), Ake’s steed should offer some bucks.

Seven frosh-filly pacers go for $95,200 in the first of the BGs for the green gals. Burke’s filly may rule the win pool here, too, as Well Hello There appears superior to all of her opponents but one—Bettor Be Steppin. Joe Holloway’s student has been sharp winning and these two may not allow any large figures to light up the tote board.

For $96,200, the next filly BG pits eight against one another, with Burke’s Sassa Hanover sporting six wins in eight starts and a hefty bankroll. The “Rocknroll” blood flows through five of the eight (including Burke’s probable favorite). Takter’s Zip Code Envy leaves from the far outside but if she is getting better, she may get better than the best here.

The remaining filly BG ($96,200) may develop into a fine wagering race if three of the obvious choices don’t divide the win pool. Ross Croghan has a good one with Shakai Hanover and she may lose support to the Burke gals. If you are looking for a boost in exotics, try using Deli Beach, who may split rivals if they go too fast to the half—it’s a long stretch and there’s a lot of room to catch up.

Friday’s 12-race program gets underway at 7:00 p.m.

Photo of Lexington during Autumn by Tom Tanner


Follow major BC hopefuls on their road to the November Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands at the Breeders Crown Countdown blog and the TwinSpires harness blog weekly, with archived reports on the results at the Hambletonian Society web site.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Milton Final tests pacing mares once more

These pacing femmes just keep rolling along and on Sept. 20 they roll for shares of $286,000 in the Milton Final at Mohawk.

After two eliminations settled the cast of this year’s field, 10 hearty side-steppers were eligible, including one also-eligible.

PP - Horse - Driver
1. Monkey On My Wheel - Chris Christoforou
2. Yagonnakissmeornot - Jody Jamieson
3. Krispy Apple - Tim Tetrick
4. Camille - Yannick Gingras
5. Shelliscape - Scott Zeron
6. Voelz Hanover - Randy Waples
7. Anndrovette - Tim Tetrick
8. Aunt Caroline - Ron Pierce
9. Summertime Lea - Sylvain Filion
10. Charisma Hanover - Doug McNair
AE: Ferrari Sena - Sylvain Filion

Last week we gave out one of the elim winners with Yagonnakissmeornot and she will be a threat in the final, as she is in top form at the dawn of Autumn. Her rush to the front over Rocklamation and Voelz Hanover eliminated the former from the final.

Anndrovette, always a danger to challenge, rushed to the top in her elim but had to stay wide a bit while getting the lead, a move that cost her a few precious steps at the wire.

Shelliscape came the farthest to get into contention and finished second. She was more than 12 lengths from the top when the race began and made them all up to lose by a neck to Yagonnakissmeornot.

Those three worked to get to the final but so did an elim favorite, Camille. She was the public choice in her elim and she wound up third, after Summertime Lea and the winner, Krispy Apple, neither which would have caught her had she not stressed to get the top early.

Camille may not be the favorite in the final and that is good for bettors looking for a bargain, because she is in the perfect spot to make amends for her rash speed move last week and win this year’s Milton at a decent price. As well as being a good win price, you might accept a key with Monkey On My Wheel second, which would pump up an exacta price, though putting Shelliscape and Yagonnakissmeornot in the second spot may also be a generous return.


Follow major BC hopefuls on their road to the November Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands at the Breeders Crown Countdown blog and the TwinSpires harness blog weekly, with archived reports on the results at the Hambletonian Society web site.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Reynolds wraps frosh into groups at Tioga

Tioga Downs offers Grand Circuit racing for frosh pacers in divisions of the Reynolds Stakes on Sept. 12. The events are presented filly to colt through the card.

The top of the evening’s Reynolds finds filly pacers in round one for $25,503. There are only six in the field and just one is a Somebeachsomewhere product. Two for six in her first season, Deli Beach. She is looking at the November classic and may be a weak third choice here for the sake of obvious favorites.

The next Reynolds finds eight colts lining up for a purse of $23,077. We may all be stuck with the favorite, Mcardles Lightning, who we backed last week in a Pennsylvania Sires Stakes final, where he was 37-1 and finished sixth. Here, however, he handles a lesser ilk and seems to be the best.

It’s back to fillies next, with a $25,903 prize. Stacia Hanover is unbeaten in three but the non-eligible Dobre Povedane can ruin that streak with a good enough trip. As long as she doesn’t challenge the choice head to head in any kind of duel, she could pull this off.

Another $23,077 affair for colts includes five maidens and two with single wins versus three-for seven Hall Of Terror. But the Well Said colt, Well Well Well has qualified a tick off of the best time from “Terror,” giving him a possible edge with a price to match.

Six fillies have to contend with Bettor Be Steppin in this $25,903 contest and she won’t be a juicy price, having raced with much better gals, even though she has one win to the four posted by Bugatti Beauty, who is a non-eligible.

Again for $23,077, colts go in the next Reynolds on the Tioga card. Dealt A Winner will be dealt the favorite card here but the Jim Campbell-trained Gallic Beach, the only Somebeachsomewhere guy in here has a shot at a better price, plus, he has more to gain as an eligible, where “Dealt” is not one.

The Reynolds nightcap features the colts left over from the cast of the evening; seven of them go for $22,677. Dragon Eddy should become the public choice but is ineligible to the classic. That leaves us with My Hero Ron, Paparazzi Hanover, Boris (zero for four) and Jk Allnitelong. The latter, by Bettor’s Delight, just graduated and it was his first race. He faces his second race meeting two maidens and not so many wins for the winners. He is eligible and may take another here with those edges and at a decent price.

Also on Saturday, two $35,000 eliminations for the Milton Stakes are on the Mohawk program. Sixteen of the best pacing mares of 2014 make up two eight-horse eliminations. The top five finishers from both elims advance to the $286,000 final on Saturday, Sept. 20.

The first elimination features millionaire-pacing mares Drop The Ball, Camille, Krispy Apple and Monkey On My Wheel, along with Aunt Caroline, Mattie Terror Girl, Summertime Lea and Jerseylicious.

The millionaires are acquainted with one another due to countless meetings over the past few years and their behavior usually dictates who gets the best of whom. Monkey On My Wheel is back home for Casie Coleman and this one has been working a lot on the half-milers. Returning to Canada and at Mohawk may remind her that she can trip through the early speed and the latecomers and pull an upset.

In the second elim, Rocklamation, last year’s Milton Stakes winner, defends her title. Rocklamation, our choice and a longshot winner last year, needs fiery front fractions and the big-dollar gals can provide that again. Ron Burke trains the six-year-old, who has earned over $2 million. But the richest mare in the field is Anndrovette, trained by P.J. Fraley, has made more than $3 million. The other seven are Charisma Hanover, Radar Contact, Voelz Hanover, Ferrari Sena, Yagonnakissmeornot and Shelliscape.

Anndrovette goes in and out of her best performances and perhaps it is time for a good gal who may be overlooked here to take control. That is Yagonnakissmeornot, who, like “Monkey,” has been competitive at Yonkers regularly. Let’s give her the support here, where she can get a good spot and save some ground to win while the others struggle with one-dimensional attempts.


Follow major BC hopefuls on their road to the November Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands at the Breeders Crown Countdown blog and the TwinSpires harness blog weekly, with archived reports on the results at the Hambletonian Society web site.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pacers programmed for Saturday night action at Mohawk

The Grand Circuit remains stationed at Mohawk Racetrack heading into this weekend, with sophomore male pacers competing in two divisions of the Simcoe and both genders of freshmen pacers in a total of four divisions of the Champlain on Saturday, Sept. 7.

The opening division of the Simcoe also kicks off the Saturday action at Mohawk, featuring a sextet to start the early daily double. Although Western Vintage, off an eye-catching mile, and On Golden Ponder, off a 1:59.2 victory in the Kentucky Sires Stakes final, are entered in this affair, neither attracted our interest. Rather, Western Vintage’s neighbor, Winds Of Change, is the colt of interest.

Making his pari-mutual start in Canada this year, his talents resided on the New York Sires Stakes’ circuit, including the $255,525 Empire Breeders Classic, of which He’s Watching bested the division in 1:49.1. The speedy colt by American Ideal has back class and consistency; he puts in a good effort nearly every mile. Expect him to be a wild card in this event.

The second division, kicking off the late daily double, is anyone’s race. Melmerby Beach might certainly be the public choice fresh off his 46-1 victory against most of this group last week or Jet Airway may get play in hopes of redemption. Regardless, an improving son of Mach Three, who is known for being a speed-deviant, occupies the rail: Three Of Clubs. His most recent start was in the Carl Milstein Consolation, a race in which fast fractions were set that assisted in his 13-length pursuit for the show spot. Off a break, he could be ready to fire at first asking.

On the freshman spectrum, two divisions of the Champlain are carded for the colts and two for the fillies.

Class will likely be the voice of reason in regards to the public’s moves in the colt events, due to the Metro Pace, contested last week. This race features two finalists: Lyons Levi Lewis and Dudes The Man. Also in this event is Freedomformysoul, who makes his second start off a short break. In his return, he rode the pylons and finished third in 1:52 with a :27.1 final quarter. This race seems like one that would set up for a pocket-sitter to slingshot by competition and, from the rail, that horse might be the Nancy Johnasson trainee.

The second affair is one where there’s difficulty in trying to beat the class, Lyons Again and Traceur Hanover. That being said, we favor Traceur Hanover more in this event, due to him defeating similar stock back in the Nassageweya. Yet, Jake Blue Chip seems like an interesting colt in this race, as he’s improving with each outing. Expect that duo to be sharp in this episode.

New-gal-in-town Shes A Hot Mess will contest against Happy Becky and Shakai Hanover in the opening division of the Champlain for the gals. Coming in off an impressive victory against conditioned stock, she is the underdog of this group. Yet, because of her astonishing mile last week, she could also attract money. Nonetheless, we feel that she’ll be value in this event and has potential to improve into a nice filly.

The other filly split seems like a match event between Solar Sister and The Show Returns. Redeeming herself with a 1:52 victory in the “Great Lady” consolation, The Show Returns might be ready for a rise to the top. Even if that’s not the case, she is the one to beat this weekend if a similar performance is in the making.


Follow major BC hopefuls on their road to the November Breeders Crown at the Meadowlands at the Breeders Crown Countdown blog and the TwinSpires harness blog weekly, with archived reports on the results at the Hambletonian Society web site. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Grand Circuit events highlight youngest divisions

Friday, Aug. 29, and Saturday, Aug. 30, Mohawk offers the lucrative Grand Circuit Champlain stakes for freshmen and the Simcoe stakes for sophomores, including many “Crown” eligibles looking to increase their bankrolls, as well as we are looking for races to wager and increase our betting bankrolls. We will always lean on “Crown” eligibles in these fields. (e)after horse’s name represents eligibles

Let’s look at Friday’s offerings:

The beloved Designed To Be (e) meets five others in the $103.845 Simcoe for soph-filly trotters and will be a prohibitive choice. There is good cause to back Scream And Shout (e), another Jimmy Takter gal who is on the improve.

The $124,621 Champlain for frosh-colt trotters is next. The frosh nominees are aplenty in general and this field has seven of 10. Trainer Jonas Czernyson has been sending green ones out with success and here he has the Muscle Hill colt Aldebaran Eagle (e), who should get overlooked as Habitat (e) will take in way too much dough.

Another Champlain for the frosh-trot colts with the same purse goes next. French Laundry has been good for Takter but he is not a nominee. Wheels Ah Smokin (e) comes from the Chuck Sylvester barn. The Muscles Yankee kid is looking like Chuck is aiming big with him and he should be a weak (good to bet) second choice.

Friday’s stakes stop with the soph-filly trot Simcoe for $105,344. The money will pour in for Lifetime Pursuit (e) but we have our eye on Demanding Sam (e) who could topple the tote board with a good trip, especially if Takter’s other filly, Donatella Hanover (e) goes for her stable mate’s throat.

Saturday’s Metro Pace program (see TwinSpires blog), starts with a $207,689 Simcoe for soph-filly pacers. Last year’s frosh champ Uffizi Hanover (e) has been trying to pump up her soph credits and Precocious Beauty (e) has found some life in her stride recently but all in all this is a tightly knit bunch. An outside contender, Nat A Virgin (e), an Indiana-bred by speedy Always A Virgin, seems to have enough talent to take on this group, being too good any more for the Indy crowd.

The $218,076 Simcoe for glamour-boy trotters marks the return of Trixton (e). The Hambletonian winner that took full advantage of Father Patrick’s galloping display, will be a dead-on choice here but he could be ready for a smack in the ego if Il Sogno Dream continues to grow stronger. This is a good time to test Trixton with a colt outside of the Takter universe; this mile could result in some nifty profits.


Follow major BC hopefuls on their road to the November Breeders Crown at The Meadowlands with the Breeders Crown Countdown blog and the TwinSpires harness blog weekly, with archived reports on the results at the HambletonianSociety web site.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

‘Crown’ stars flexing muscles

Other than the headline stakes in a week’s racing, eligibles for the “Crown”—some already Crown champs—will be active in top events such as Opens and Preferreds throughout the continent. We will scope the entry boxes for these, since they often wind up in such events while having a distinct class advantage not embraced by the betting public. As well, they may be the closest things to “locks” you can get.

This weekend a few trotters and pacers in this category are racing in low-profile events that deserve the bettor’s attention.

On Friday, Aug. 22, Bee A Magician (BAM, pictured) takes on the boys again, this time at Yonkers in a $44,000 Open Trot. Only one of those boys is a Crown male—and a veteran—Arch Madness. Five others, including the recognizable Coraggioso (non-eligible but remember supplements are possible) battle the duo. These three would be the top three contenders and it may be possible that BAM could be a decent price as a co-choice. Certainly Arch Madness is here to get some cash and well-needed rebound status en route to November.

Coraggioso may take some money from BAM, being a successful local and having recent form but in any order, the triptych holds all of the cards against the rest.

Also that night at Yonkers, Bouncing Bax is one of three Crown hopefuls (and the only mare) in a $32,000 Preferred Trot. She gets the rail, while Rossini and Sweet Justice leave from the 6 and 8 holes, respectively. We like Sweet Justice on the outside, where Yonkers bettors fear to tread. She is obviously aiming for a berth in the Crown show and has been sharp of late. From post 8 we may get a good price on him.

That same night at Pocono Downs, a $25,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred Handicap features another three stars heading for the Crown—Jerseylicious, Anndrovette and Rocklamation. Four others come along for the ride. Crown-champ Anndrovette is facing far less competition than she has while faltering her last few. She is still the probable public choice and most likely for that reason. Of these, Jerseylicious has the most to gain with a win and will offer the most to players.

Creatine and Its Complicated take on a Scioto Open field Aug. 22, where eight others appear firmly inferior. That may be a beautiful and easy and valuable low exacta – or better, a big one. 

On Saturday, Aug. 23, Maven, Picture This and Sevruga head a field of eight ineligibles at Pocono in a Preferred Handicap worth $25,000. This is a perfect situation for Sevruga, especially since the name recognition of Maven will attract too many dollars. By and large, Sevruga is the strongest of this group, no less the three that are Crown-bound. Picture This needs marked improvement here but should be an exotic wagering consideration.


Follow major BC hopefuls on their road to the November Breeders Crown at Pocono Downs at the Breeders Crown Countdown blog and the TwinSpires harness blog weekly, with archived reports on the results at the Hambletonian Society web site.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Time of the season

It's time for the countdown, the Breeders Crown Countdown, the exclusive blog that will coordinate with our harness blog at and the Hambletonian Society to find great wagering opportunities for "Crown" eligibles as they race their ways to the Crown finals.

The 2014 Breeders Crown will take place at the Meadowlands and be raced over two nights in November, with the divisional races divided into a four-race block of distaff races on Friday (Nov. 21) and the remaining eight finals races held Saturday (Nov. 22).

The $500,000 Breeders Crown Trot and the Pace for three-year-old fillies, and a pair of $250,000 Crowns for mare pacers and trotters will be raced on Friday night. All four $500,000 two-year-old events, the $500,000 soph-colt pace and trot and the $400,000 Crown Pace and $500,000 Crown Trot will be raced on Saturday night.

Tom Charters, president of The Hambletonian Society, which owns and administrates the series, is familiar with the demands of staging the event at rotating host tracks, as well as the Society’s flexibility in presenting the event.

“The Breeders Crown has been conducted in just about every format -- single races, blocks of races, all twelve races on one night -- and we try always to be sensitive to host track parameters while still getting the most 'bang' out of the event in regard to publicity, TV and promotions,” said Charters.
 “The Meadowlands has been home to many of harness racing’s most important events over the past thirty years. We look forward to the return of the Breeders Crown under Jeff Gural's management and especially look forward to the new facility."

The Meadowlands  has hosted 67 Breeders Crown races -- more than any other racetrack -- and in 2014 will celebrate 30 years of Breeders Crown history.

This season we will be watching the top horses in the divisions, a crew of talent that has been, mostly competitive.

There's Sweet Lou, the monstrous steed that has all the Free-For-All pacers anything but free to beat him. Sebastian K, the older trotter and former Horse of the Year in Sweden, who has dominated his division but will have to be supplemented if he is to go for a Crown win.

Hambletonian-winner Trixton and Jimmy Takter's other dynamos Father Patrick and Nuncio, may meet one another again as they head for the soph-colt Crown.

There are bound to be others, unusual suspects, if you will, that are having a better second half of the season than the first and readying to make noise against the season's popular names. And still others can buy into Crown races, as supplements.

Big stakes are still on the agenda in the months leading to November's end, so watch the TwinSpires harness blog and the link to this exclusive blog for special attention to races including Crown probables and great wagering promise.

The Breeders Crown series has crowned champions in every division for trotters and pacers and has been the deciding factor in Horse of the Year honors since 1984. More than $164 million in purse money has been disbursed over 346 events.