Saturday Harness Preview for 5/10/2014
by Ted Black
While thoroughbred racing fans might been in waiting mode this weekend with the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico still seven days away, standardbred fans will have plenty to watch and wager on at several different tracks.
At The Meadowlands on Saturday night, all eyes will be on the two divisions of the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial eliminations for older trotters, with the top five finishers from each split returning for next weekend's lucrative final. As expected, the two elims attracted most of the best aged trotters in training and next week's final, much like the Preakness, should be worth the wait.
In the first Cutler elimination on Saturday, a trio of trotters look poised to advance to next week's final. Modern Family has been superb already this spring, posting a 5-3-1 slate and $87,500 bankroll from nine starts this year for trainer Daryl Bier. In at least two of those victories, primarily his most recent one over this oval, Modern Family has looked like one of the best trotters in training.
Looking to upend Modern Family this week and again next weekend are two trotters with varying degrees of experience this year. Yonkers Raceway mainstay Dw's Ny Yank has won seven of 10 starts and banked over $140,000 for trainer Mark Ford and has recorded most of his victories despite being assigned the outside post at the New York half-mile oval. Intimidate arrives with only one start, a good second-place finish here last week.
In the second Cutler elimination several races later on the card, most of the attention will focus on the two trotters that drew inside, Sevruga and Market Share, the multi-millionaire and reigning champ of this division.
While Market Share, who already boasts a Hambletonian and Breeders Crown victory to his lofty resume, makes his 2014 debut for trainer Linda Toscano, Sevruga has already won twice in three starts and was a sharp second last week in his local bow. Both may not be primed for their best effort in this elim, but look for both trotters to dominate this race and perhaps save their best for next week's final.
One of the most intriguing races of the night will take place at Pocono Downs when the five-eighths mile oval offers a $25,000 Preferred for aged pacers. The race could easily pass for a stakes elimination.
Despite drawing the outside slot, Mach It So will be the favorite in the Preferred for trainer PJ Fraley. Although he failed to hit the board two weeks ago in the $570,000 George Morton Levy Memorial Series final at Yonkers after being burdened with post position eight, Mach It So won three legs of the series and was second in two others. He appears to have a class edge here, but he did miss last week.
Looking to topple Mach It So in the Preferred are two durable, well-traveled pacers who have done well over the strip this spring. Eighteen has won the top class at Yonkers and raced very well at Pocono in the Preferred and despite making frequent trips back and forth, the Maryland-bred gelding has maintained his sharp form.
Another local pacer, Abelard Hanover, a 1:48.4 winner over this track earlier this spring who owns a stellar 1:48 career mark here, is going to be tough although he scratched out of the Van Rose Memorial last weekend won by Levy finalist Dancin Yankee. Abelard Hanover has always thrived on five-eighths mile ovals in PA and Maryland and this could be a another good spot for him.
Yet another invader will look to upend them all. After opening the campaign at Yonkers, Allstar Legend has been a regular in the top class at The Meadowlands and easily held his own against stalwarts Dovuto Hanover and Golden Receiver. He owns a solid 4-2-2 slate and $60,000 bankroll from 11 starts this year, so Allstar Legend is a consistent sort who has been battled tested against A-1/FFA pacers and merits respect in this event.
That same evening at Yonkers, the $38,000 Open Handicap, carded as the sixth race on the card, also presents players with a challenge.
Undoubtedly, PH Supercam will be the odds-on favorite in this event as the PJ Fraley trainee is assigned the outside six hole two weeks after his rallying score in the $570,000 George Morton Levy Memorial Series final. PH Supercam, the sport's horse of the month for April, looks much the best on paper but keep in mind that he did miss a week following his Levy tally and may not deliver his best effort here.
Two of his rivals, Malak Uswaad N and Sapphire City, both exit the Levy series as well and both also missed last week's action. Malak Uswaad was in the consolation, while Sapphire City finished a respectable fourth in the final. But like PH Supercam, bettors may not see the best efforts from Malak Uswaad N and Sapphire City this weekend, although the latter still owns a share of the all-age track record.
So each of the three pacers that raced last week all pose an upset chance. Valentino, who was first over against Eighteen, draws the rail, while Statesman N has won three of his last four starts and Take It Back Terry has won his last two outings as the odds-on choice locally. If PH Supercam is overbet here, either of theses three outsiders could prevail at a very generous price.
Those heading to Harrington Raceway for the Sunday card may want to treat mom to an early daily double in addition to the buffet.
In the opening race on the card, look for Megginspin to benefit from her inside draw and capture this non-winners of two event for pacing fillies. The sophomore daughter of No Spin Zone, owned, bred and trained by petite blacksmith Leigh Louthan raced well to finish second off a four-week layoff following a good, third-place effort in the $100,000 DSBF final for her age, gait and gender at Dover Downs. That tightener and the rail should combine for a win this evening.
One race later in the second half of the early daily double, look for Stky Fngrs Hanover and Mommom's Little C - an unpassable hunch play on Mother's Day - to dominate this event. Stky Fngrs Hanover was a sharp second to talented aged pacer Adventure Bound in a recent qualifier, while Mommom's Little C was second despite a long, first over trip one week ago. Either one could complete the early double.
Then several races later on the card, look for Toolbox to prevail for trainer-driver Bill Long, the former Ocean Downs driving kingpin, in this non-winners of three event for trotters. Last week in this class, Toolbox raced first over into a solid back half and still lasted for the place spot. The Giant Hit gelding won a DSBF prelim at Dover Downs before finishing third in the $100,000 final and the combination of his local debut and the rail this evening should enable Toolbox to find the winner's circle.