Memorial Day cards highlight weekend of harness action
Memorial Day Harness RacingWhile the most lucrative stakes race of the weekend was contested at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday night, harness racing enthusiasts still had ample stakes action on Sunday afternoon and Memorial Day Monday at a trio of venues.
Monday afternoon Vernon Downs in upstate New York presents both the $210,000 Empire Breeders Classic Final for three-year-old filly trotters and the $215,000 Empire Breeders Classic Final for three-year-old colt trotters. Both of them are offered as consecutive races over the three-quarter mile oval and both prove to be moderately revealing and may land one or both winners in the inaugural Hambletonian Society Top 10 poll that gets unveiled Tuesday afternoon.
Other races running are the $210,000 EBC Final for three-year-old filly trotters and one race later the $215,000 EBC Final for three-year-old colt trotters. Quincy Blue Chip (Jim Morrill, Jr.) lived up to her role as the 3-5 favorite when she rallied second over to score by three lengths in 1:55 for trainer Garrett Gowse.
One race later on the card, Gimpanzee (Brian Sears) easily lived up to his billing as the 1-20 favorite in the $215,000 EBC Final for three-year-old colt trotters when he overcame a first over bid to score by three lengths in 1:54. The sophomore son of Chapter Seven trained by Marcus Melander debuted in style and remained perfect in 10 career outings.
On the same evening at Harrington Raceway, the Delaware half-mile oval may not have offered any stakes or stakes elims, but numerous horses competing in overnight races on the Memorial Day card should be headed in that direction.
Prior to the midway point of the card in the first half of a split, non-winners of $8,501 last five starts class for pacers, Late Mail N (Allan Davis) edged Sicily (Victor Kirby), then two races later on the card Dialamara (Jason Lynch) benefited from a perfect trip behind 3-5 choice Star Messenger (Tony Morgan) to score by a length in 1:52.2. In the featured $11,000 Open II for older pacers, Silver Fox J (Mike Cole) prevailed as the odds-on choice in 1:53.2 for trainer Joe Columbo and co-owners George & Tina Dennis and The Wiz Kids Stable.
Catch driver Montrell Teague recorded three victories on the Memorial Day card, including the book ends of the program with pacers gearing up for the Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund eliminations next month. In the opener, Goldberg easily lived up to his role as the 1-20 choice when he romped home 10 lengths clear in 1:52 flat, then much later Keepmywiglegametyt forged a mild 7-2 upset in a non-winners of five races or $25,000 lifetime class in 1:53.4 in the Memorial Day finale.
Sunday RecapOne day earlier at Harrah's Philadelphia - the five-eighths oval in Pennsylvania commonly known as 'Chester' years after being renamed saw a fun racecard.
Just past the midway point of the card, in the $100,000 Betsy Ross Invitational for pacing fillies and mares, Shartin N (Tim Tetrick) lived up to her role as the 6-5 favorite when she overhauled Caviart Ally (Andrew McCarthy) in the final 100 yards to prevail by over a length in 1:49.2. A six-year-old Tintin In America mare trained by Jim King, Jr., Shartin N posted her sixth win in seven starts this year and now sports 32 wins and roughly $1.5 million banked from 44 lifetime outings.
Shartin N enjoyed a stellar campaign in 2018 and took home honors as champion pacing mare and was runner-up to McWicked for pacer of the year and horse of the year and Tuesday afternoon she may appear in the top spot in the opening Top 10 poll for 2019. Shartin N has already won the $400,000 Blue Chip Match Maker series final at Yonkers and Sunday afternoon at Chester she overhauled a sharp Caviart Ally in the Betsy Ross.
One race later in the $100,000 Mike Lee Invitational for trotters, Guardian Angel As (Tetrick) lived up to his billing as the 9-5 favorite when he brushed to command before the half in 55.1, rolled by three-quarters in 1:23.2 then drew clear in the lane to a three-length score in 1:51 flat. A five-year-old Archangel stallion trained by Annette Lorentzen, Guardian Angel As recorded his second win in three starts this year and now owns 18 wins and nearly $600,000 banked from 43 career outings and looms a serious Top 10 candidate.
$100,000 Commodore Barry InvitationalIn the $100,000 Commodore Barry Invitational for older pacers, Courtly Choice (David Miller) loved up to his role as the 9-5 favorite when he overcame a parked-the-mile journey behind Rodeo Rock (McCarthy) then overhauled that one in the lane for a two-length score in 1:49.1. A Maryland-bred, four-year-old Art Major stallion trained by Blake Macintosh, Courtly Choice has won twice in three starts this year and now sports 14 wins and just over $1 million banked from 31 career tries.
Courtly Choice was one of the sport's top three-year-old colt pacers in 2018 and was clearly the best Maryland-bred pacer of any age last season when he captured both the Meadowlands Pace and the Little Brown Jug and he already owns a pair of open stakes this year. Rodeo Rock was second on Sunday and he was earlier second in the $665,000 George Morton Levy Memorial Series final behind Western Fame then he tuned up for this event by taking a $30,000 Great Northeast Series Open at Pocono Downs in 1:49 for owner-trainer Robert Cleary. Courtly Choice, Western Fame and Rodeo Rock should all find spots in the first Top 10 poll.
Be sure to play the races at BetAmerica!