Dover Downs offers three solid cards this week
Harness racing fans still have several more chances to turn their Christmas bonuses into some serious cash this week before the official start to the New Year as Dover Downs closes out 2015 with a trio of solid programs.
In fact, Dover's Monday evening card is a tribute to the talented and the hardiest of pacers. Each Monday the Delaware five-eighths mile oval offers its most competitive, most contentious fields and several of the competitors are true combatants.
Monday's opener is for $15,000 claimers which normally gets noticed as simply being the first half of the early daily double. But railbound Jin Dandy (Victor Kirby) will be making the 48th start of the YEAR in the opener and will be looking to cap a busy campaign with his fifth victory. He sports a solid 4-5-9 slate and seasonal earnings of $58,000 and is racing without lasix.
Jin Dandy is the most seasoned horse in an opening race filled with hearty soles. Six of his seven rivals have already made at least 30 starts this year, with Something Blue (Allan Davis) sporting a 5-3-4 slate from 38 starts, Glory Beach has a 6-5-6 slate from 37 outings and Alexis Style owns a 5-5-5 slate from 36 starts this year heading into Monday's opener.
Look for a series of fast miles to begin nearing the midway point of the card when a field of nine older pacers goes postward in the tough winners over $12,000 last six starts class. Speed Again (Yannick Gingras), a veteran campaigner for trainer Ron Burke, owns a 4-7-3 slate and earnings of $78,000 from 25 starts this year and is one of three horses sporting a sub-1:50 mark this season.
But the Burke-Gingras tandem often gets overbet at many venues, so those looking for value have options with Soto (Kirby), Papa Ray (Allan Davis), Mister Truth (Ross Wolfenden), Rockin Rambaran (Corey Callahan) and Special T Rocks (George Dennis).
Then two races later in the non-winners of $12,000 last six starts class, Adventure Bound (Gingras) looms the solid choice from post four for trainer Eric Ell of JL Cruze fame, but Dedi's Dragon (Kirby), Black Aquila A (Callahan), Simon's Artist (Brett Miller) and Fancy Colt (Tony Morgan) all pose serious upset chances.
One race later on the card the track will offer the $27,500 Delaware Special Handicap for the best Delaware-owned pacers on the grounds.
Captive Audience (Callahan) and Just A Jolt (Kirby) have been assigned posts seven and eight, respectively, due to their early dominance in this event. Captive Audience sports a 4-3-5 slate and $120,000 bankroll and stellar 1:48.4 mark for trainer Doug Lewis, while Just A Jolt owns a 10-4-4 slate and $168,000 bankroll for trainer Jim King, Jr. of Wakizaski Hanover fame.
One race later in the $18,500 Open for five-year-olds and under, Journeyman (Gingras) got assigned the outside eight hole for trainer Ron Burke and still looms the one to beat. But railbound Major Uptrend (Callahan) owns an 11-5-0 slate and $138,000 bankroll and 1:49.2 mark from 29 starts this year for Lewis and will be a major player here, while Framed Art (Art Stafford, Jr.) will be rolling late and certainly poses a threat to the top pair.
Then one race later in the $30,000 OPen/Preferred Handicap, Atta Boy Dan (Gingras) looms the choice for Burke based on his stellar 17 wins and $238,000 bankroll from 32 starts this year. But Bushwacker (Callahan), Dapper Dude (Kirby) and Phil Your Boots (Montrell Teague) all pose upset chances.
In a race that should result in the fastest clocking of the night, four pacers sport sub-1:50 marks this year. Sparky Mark (1:49), Atta Boy Dan (1:49.1), Bushwacker (1:49.1) and Phil Your Boots (1:49.1) are all accustomed to recording fast miles. Dapper Dude has posted sub-1:50 victories on numerous occasions for former trainer Bob McIntosh.
Tuesday's Dover Downs cards are typically designated to the female pacers and the top fillies and mares will certainly be behind the gate throughout the program.
In the eighth, a non-winners of five races or $50,000 lifetime class for the younger distaffers, look for either Racsan Cyndee (Kirby), Electric Z Tam (Davis), Michelle Rocks (Wolfenden) or Northern Beauty (Miller) to prevail in a contentious event.
Then one race later in the non-winners of $12,000 last six class for pacing fillies and mares, give the nod to railbound Handsoffmycookie (Morgan) although this season was disappointing for the Maryland-bred mare. But those unwilling to back her can side with No Respect (Kirby), Embassy Seelster (Callahan), Lounge Act (Miller) or Bj's Sweetheart (Dennis), who draws post nine in the second tier.
Then one race later in the 10th, a winners over $12,000 last six class for pacing fillies and mares, give the nod to Shine N Shimmer (Callahan). This Lewis trainee sports an 11-7-5 slate, 1:51.1 mark and $122,000 bankroll from 40 starts this year. Paradise Lost (Teague), Jerseylicious (Davis) and Fashion Showdown (Wolfenden), who also boasts 11 wins on the season, all loom serious contenders.
Wednesday's cards at Dover often highlight the trotters and the feature race on the card is a "Winners Over" event for that gait. Look for I'm Son Striking (Eddie Dennis), Cash On Delivery (Vince Copeland), Spunky Jack (Roger Plante, Jr.) and I Like My Boss (George Dennis) to be within close proximity to one another at the wire. Spunky Jack owns a 4-8-13 slate and $95,000 bankroll from 41 starts this year, while I Like My Boss was the darling of the Delaware breeding program at ages two and three for trainer Robert Shahan.
Sadly, harness racing bid a permanent farewell to one of its tracks last weekend when Balmoral Park offered its final card ever. The seven-eighths mile oval near Chicago was known for hosting the American-Nationals and the Super Saturday Stakes card for Illinois-breds each fall, but last weekend marked the final time the trotters and pacers would compete on the venerable oval.