Dover and Yonkers
While many sports enthusiasts are eagerly looking forward to this weekend's Divisional Round of the National Football League playoffs, standardbred racing fans will be looking to pad their bankrolls at several venues.
Wednesday evenings at Dover Downs are generally reserved for the trotters and tomorrow's card offers a bevy of them. While many bettors are reluctant to play trotting events since that gait has a tendency to go off-stride far more frequently than their pacing counterparts, there are several solid plays on the card.
Wednesday's third race is a non-winners of three races or $17,501 lifetime class for trotters and this event should prove formful. Switchblade Hall (Tim Tetrick) should go postward as the favorite from post three, but look for P L Ichabod (Jonathan Roberts) to be able to work out a better trip despite another outside draw.
Last week when both were in the same event won by favored Keep'n It A Secret, P L Ichabod rallied from last early to get second, while Switchblade Hall benefited from a pocket trip. Granted, 'Switchblade' will likely get the better trip again tomorrow and could cut the fractions, but he will also be a considerably shorter price than P L Ichabod who will be flying late.
Two races later in a non-winners of five races or $80,001 lifetime class for trotters, look for Drinksforthehouse (Tetrick) to be the odds-on choice following a sharp score against similar last week in 1:55.3. But those looking for live plays could try both Machuca (Allan Davis) and Adrenaline Junkie (Jim Morand) who finished third and fourth last week chasing the choice while facing tough overland trips.
Then four races later in the featured ninth, the $21,000 Winners Over/Open Handicap for older trotters, look for I Like My Boss (George Dennis) to continue his re-found winning ways despite his outside eight hole assignment. The four-year-old son of Don Boss Vita trained by Robert Shahan has won four straight, including last week's sharp 1:53 score.
Then one race later in the 10th, a non-winners of $12,001 last six starts class for trotters, look for either Winemaster Hanover (Tetrick), Enrico As (Davis) or Ashes Cash (Victor Kirby) to prevail. Ashes Cash recorded the fastest victory of the group last week when he scored in 1:54.2, while Enrico As prevailed in 1:55.4, with Winemaster Hanover rallying to finish second to him.
Last Thursday evening several horses cut the early fractions only to be overtaken in the lane. It was such a common theme that a track bias was likely the culprit, so some of them could be worth playing back this week.
In the fourth, a $5,000-7,500 claiming handicap for pacing fillies and mares, give Willow Mill Faith (Dennis) a chance at redemption. Then in the eighth, a $10,000 claiming event for pacing fillies and mares, give Inbox Hanover (Tony Morgan) a good shot. Then in the 11th, a non-winners of four races or $45,001 lifetime class for younger pacers, back Mcjagersonthemove (Morgan) with plenty of confidence.
Saturday night's card at Yonkers Raceway has several logical plays, as most of the combatants made their seasonal debuts last week and several of them should truly benefit from the effort.
In the second, a non-winners of $12,000 last five starts class for older pacers, take a swing on American Rage (Eric Carlson). Last week in a similar event, American Rage raced first over into a 56-second back half and finished second behind Panchester United. Also expect a better effort from V I P Bayama (Pat Lachance) in this spot.
Then in the fifth, a non-winners of $25,000 last five starts class, look for railbound Caution Signs (Matt Kakaley) to benefit from the inside draw after starting from post seven last week. This Maryland-bred Dream Away stallion trained by Jose Godinez won 13 of 37 starts and earned almost $180,000 last year and should regain his winning ways in this spot from the rail.
Then two races later in the seventh, the other half of the split, non-winners of $25,000 last five starts class for older pacers, look for railbound Statesman N (George Brennan) to garner his first win of the campaign following a sharp, second-place finish against similar last week. This Ron Burke trainee owned a 5-7-3 slate and $112,500 bankroll from 30 starts last year and gets the nod here over Texas Terror (Kakaley) who starts alongside him.
Then several races later in the 10th, a non-winners of $18,000 last five starts group for pacers, look for railbound In Commando (Mark MacDonald) to improve considerably in this spot. Last week against tougher, In Commando trailed throughout from post seven in his seasonal debut for trainer Mark Ford. So with the rail this weekend, look for him to be much sharper and handled much more aggressively early.
Then two races later in the finale, another non-winners of $18,000 last five starts class for older pacers, look for railbound Casimir Jitterbug (Brian Sears) to notch his second win of the season after beating tougher in his seasonal debut last week. This Tony O'Sullivan trainee has ample back class and gets the nod over Roland N Rock (Daniel Dube) who beat similar foes last week for trainer Rob Harmon.
Most of the early races on the Sunday card are designed for trotters and at longer distances of one-mile and one-quarter, but those seeking to play trotting events at the standard one-mile distance will have the chance to do so toward the end of the program.
In fact, the eighth is the $32,000 Open Handicap for trotters in which the compact field of six have all been assigned their spots. Not Afraid (Dube) actually won this event last week, but did not get the outside slot, so he figures to have the slight edge over Red Hot Herbie (Sears) and Zooming (Tyler Buter) who crushed conditioned foes last Sunday and certainly merits respect in this spot.