Homeracing

Sunday cards offer varying degrees of competition

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Ted Black

August 14th, 2018

A pair of harness racing venues that seem to have little in common offered solid cards on Sunday as Tioga Downs in New York presented a stakes-filled program while overnight events comprised the 12-race program at Ocean Downs in Maryland, five miles west of the beaches.

Sunday's feature at Tioga Downs was technically the $185,000 Crawford Farms for older trotters, accompanied by the $140,000 Joie De Vie for trotting mares, although many would contend the eliminations for the Empire Breeders Classics - one each for sophomore male pacers and female pacers - would merit top billing although those finals are both set for this Sunday.

In Sunday's Crawford Farms for older trotters, Will Take Charge (Tim Tetrick) maintained his sharp recent form and brushed to command past the opener in 27.1, got a slight breather by the half in 56.1, rolled by three-quarters with I Know My Chip (Jim Marohn, Jr.) in the pocket and edged clear from that one and JL Cruze (Brett Miller) to score in 1:51.2. Runner-up in the $285,000 Cashman Memorial one week earlier at the Meadowlands on the Hambletonian Day undercard, Will Take Charge now owns an 8-4-1 slate and $380,000 banked from 16 starts this year.

One race earlier, however, the Joie De Vie for trotting distaffers did not prove to be as formful. Reigning harness horse of the year, Hannelore Hanover (Gingras) failed miserably as the 1-5 favorite when she gave way in the lane after setting the early fractions and faded to third as Dream Together (Bob McGuire) forged a 14-1 upset and Emoticon Hanover (Daniel Dube) rallied for the place spot as an overlooked 15-1 shot. Ariana G (Tetrick) had even less to offer in her second straight disappointing performance.

One race earlier in the second $12,500 Empire Breeders Classic elim for three-year-old colt pacers, Courtly Choice (David Miller) easily lived up to his role as the 1-9 favorite when he rebounded from a modest fourth-place effort in the $260,000 Cane Pace on the Hambo undercard to prevail by two lengths in 1:49. This Maryland-bred son of Art Major trained by Blake Macintosh notched his seventh win from 10 starts this year and pushed his seasonal earnings past $480,000 and looms the favorite for next week's lucrative EBC final.

One race earlier in the second $12,500 Empire Breeders Classic elim for three-year-old filly pacers, Youaremycandygirl (Gingras) easily lived up to her billing as the 1-20 favorite when she brushed to command before the half in 56.2, rolled by three-quarters in 1:23.2 then sprinted clear from 10-1 I'm Trigger Happy (Morohn) to score by three lengths in 1:51. The sophomore daughter of American Ideal trained by Ron Burke recorded her third straight tally and now owns five wins and $223,000 banked from nine seasonal outings.

One race earlier in the first Empire Breeders Classic elim for sophomore pacing colts, American History (Gingras) regained his winning ways when he overcame a long, first over journey to wear down Hitman Hill (Brett Miller) to score in 1:51.1. The three-year-old American Ideal colt trained by Tony Alagna owns four wins and $130,000 banked from 11 starts this year, but his best efforts have come in the elims and he has failed to duplicate those performances in the finals and gets another acid test next weekend against Courtly Choice.

Then one race earlier in the first Empire Breeders Classi elim for three-year-old filly pacers, Alexis Faith (Jim Morrill, Jr.) brushed to command before the half in 56 flat, met pressure from Pueblo Blue Chip (Gingras) by three-quarters in 1:23.3 then kept that one at bay to score in 1:52. This sophomore daughter of American Ideal trained by Casie Coleman owns a 3-3-1 slate and $104,000 banked from nine starts this year after winning six of nine tries and earning over $225,000 as a juvenile.

That evening at Ocean Downs in Maryland, fans were treated to a steady diet of overnight races as the meet winds to a close on Labor Day weekend.

Just prior to the midway point of the card, Maurice (Allan Davis) lived up to his role as the tepid 2-1 choice in the $7,00 Gold Class 2 when he left from the coveted rail, brushed to command before the half in 56.3, raced unpressed by three-quarters in 1:25.4 then held safe Lets Foal Around (Joseph Fellows) to score in 1:55.2. It was the second win in seven starts at the seaside oval for the six-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding trained by J. Thomas Armour.

One race later in the $6,500 Silver Class for pacers, Laurent Hanover (Jason Thompson) benefited from rapid fractions carved out by Carters Caper (Jonathan Roberts) through the first three calls, angled out first over and eventually wore down Fashion Maven to score in 1:54.3. A 10-year-old Dragon Again gelding trained by Walter Birney, Jr., Laurent Hanover notched his third win in eight starts at the meet and now owns a 4-2-1 slate and $14,500 banked from 23 seasonal outings.

Then one race later in the $8,500 Platinum Class for older pacers, Inforce (Victor Kirby) easily successfully defended his title in the weekly feature when he brushed to command past the opener in 27.2, maintained an honest tempo by the half in 56.2 and three-quarters in 1:25 and edged clear from Simons Artist (Thompson) to score by two lengths in 1:53.2. It was the second straight sharp score over the seaside oval for the five-year-old Western Terror stallion trained by Wayne Givens.

Then one race later in the $7,500 Gold Class 1, Andwin Hanover (John Wagner) lived up to his billing as the 4-5 favorite when he benefited from patient handling while sitting a pocket trip behind Leyden (Russell Foster) through the first three calls, angled out at the head of the lane and then edged clear from Goin Down Rockin (Allan Davis) to score in 1:53.4. The eight-year-old Yankee Cruiser gelding owned and trained by John Urbanski owns a solid 4-6-5 slate and $28,500 banked from 26 starts this year. His previous victory came six weeks earlier in a non-winners of $2,500 last five starts at The Meadowlands in 1:52.1.

Then one race later in a $6,500 Silver Class for older pacers, Celtic Thunder (John Mackinnon) lived up to his role as the 6-5 choice when he gained command early from the coveted rail, carved out modest fractions of 28.2, 57.4 and 1:26.4 through the first three calls then drew clear to a three-length score in 1:56. A seven-year-old McArdle gelding owned and trained by Mackinnon, Celtic Thunder recorded his first win in 18 starts this year by drawing well upon dropping out of the Gold Class.

Then one race later in the $7,000 Gold Class 2, All The Cookies (Tyler Davis) lived up to his billing as the even-money favorite from the rail when he brushed to command after a 27.4 opener, got a breather by the half in 57.4, rolled by three-quarters in 1:26.4 then held safe Jigtime Jones (Allan Davis) to score in 1:56.1. A five-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding trained by Phil Mitchell, All The Cookies notched his second straight tally over the seaside oval and now owns a 4-5-2 slate and $221,500 banked from 19 starts this year.

Then one race later in the $6,500 Silver Class for older pacers, Artistic Choice (Foster) rebounded from a fourth-place finish as the 8-5 choice one week earlier when he brushed to command past the opener in 28.2, maintained an honest tempo by the half in 57.3 and three-quarters in 1:27 then edged away from Silverhill Lover (Richard Still) to prevail in 1:55.4. It was the second win in six starts over the seaside oval for the four-year-old Artistic Fella stallion trained by Richard Lewis and lowered his lifetime mark by nearly three full seconds.
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