While the Breeders Crown races may have already passed and perhaps crowned the numerous division champions, many of the sport’s best sophomore pacers and trotters of both genders will head to Dover Downs on Thursday for a quartet of lucrative Matron Stakes.
In the first of the four, Gimpanzee (Brian Sears), who just outlasted the late bid of stablemate Greenshoe to capture the Breeders Crown Final for three-year-old colt trotters, looms the solid choice in the $200,000 Matron Stakes for that division on Thursday at Dover. Gimpanzee has won seven of 12 starts and nearly $1 million this year and has several formidable foes in Marseille (Ake Svandstedt), Pilot Discretion (Andrew McCarthy) and Don’t Let Em (Yannick Gingras) in the first Matron.
Then two races later in the $175,000 Matron Stakes for three-year-old filly trotters, Breeders Crown winner Winndevie (Sears) will look to enhance her 6-4-3 slate and $560,000 bankroll from 14 starts this year against a solid group that includes Evident Beauty (David Miller), who sports eight wins in 15 starts and over $500,000 banked, When Dovescry (Simon Allard), who owns four wins and $560,000 banked from just 11 seasonal outings and The Ice Dutchess (Gingras) who sports six wins and $350,000 banked from 16 starts this year.
Several races later in the $165,000 Matron Stakes for three-year-old filly pacers, division leader Warrawee Ubeaut (Gingras) will seek to maintain her renewed dominance over the division when she seeks her 13th win in 18 starts this year, one that would put her over the $1 million plateau in seasonal earnings. But the recent Breeders Crown heroine will face a number of tough customers including Tall Drink Hanover (McCarthy), Trecherous Reign (Dexter Dunn), Stonebridge Soul (Tim Tetrick) and Maryland-bred Zero Tolerance (Miller) for Hall of Fame conditioner Joe Holloway.
Then two races later in the $250,000 Matron Stakes for three-year-old colt pacers, Bettor’s Wish (Dunn) will look to put the finishing touches on his division title for trainer Chris Ryder. The sophomore son of Bettor’s Delight sports 12 wins and five second-place finishes and seasonal earnings of $1.4 million from 17 starts. Early division leader Captain Crunch (Gingras), Breeders Crown winner Dancin Lou (McCarthy), Shake That House (Tetrick), American Mercury (Tyler Buter) and Stag Party (Miller), arguably the best winless horse in the land this season, will all be looking to upend Bettor’s Wish in this spot.
Several other intriguing races on the undercard include the $25,000 Open with Bo Mach (Corey Callahan), JJ Flynn (Dunn) and Little Ben (Tetrick), the $30,000 Preferred with Duplicated N (Tetrick), Shnitzldosomethin (Callahan), Windsong Leo (Gingras) and Mike’s Z Tam (Pat Lachance) and the $28,500 Blue Hen featuring Slick Tony (Montrell Teague), sixth in the $100,000 Potomac Pace on Sunday, who sports 14 wins and nearly $180,000 baked from 35 seasonal starts for owner-breeder-trainer George “Ronnie” Leager.
The main even on the Wednesday card in a $40,000 Filly-Mare Invitational that could have passed for a six-figure stakes. Shartin N (Tetrick) will look to avenge a setback to Caviart Ally (McCarthy) when the two of them clash again in this mid-week feature. Shartin N is the future book favorite for harness horse of the year in 2019, an honor she just missed attaining last winter while finishing second in the voting to McWicked. Both mares have enjoyed superb campaigns and their rivalry continues on Wednesday afternoon at Dover Downs.