Thursday Harness Preview for 2/20/2014
by Ted Black
While most harness tracks prefer to use their best cards on Saturday nights, Dover Downs - which does not offer live racing on Friday or Saturday - has opted to highlight its best pacers of all ages on Thursday evenings each week.
Granted, many players like to start the evening off by hitting the early daily double, but the middle and latter races on the card appear to have the most potential for value plays.
In the seventh, an Open for five-year-old and under pacers, give Delaware Hanover a chance to prevail in this group. Last week he set the early fractions and gave way late to finish third against tougher, older conditioned rivals and his venture into the restricted age Open might prove to be a mild class relief for the Frank Milby trainee.
One race later on the card, give Encoding Z Tam a chance to atone in the winners over $45,000 lifetime class for developing young pacers. Last week he was used hard to make the front in a 54.3 half, got pressed down the backside and yielded on the far turn and settled for fourth. But his effort was much better than it looked on paper and Encoding Z Tam does not need the lead to be effective.
Two races later in the 10th, the featured $27,500 Delaware Special which usually gets second billing to the Open/Preferred which did not fill this week, look for Feel Like A Fool to finally emerge with his victory of the season. Last week he raced first over into a solid back half and finished second, so this evening Feel Like A Fool should end his six-race skid to start the campaign and find the winner's circle for the first time.
In the very next race, the winners over $12,000 class offers a pair of intriguing pacers. Bigtown Hero, winless in five starts this year since arrived from Rosecroft Raceway where he was tabbed as the top older male pacer at the fall meet, finally drops out of the ultra-tough Open/Pref Handicap and into a winnable spot for owner-trainer Trevor Stafford.
But also in the 11th, Bad Man Sam steps into the conditoned ranks following a very good effort against $25/30,000 claimers last week. Bad Man Sam finished in a dead-heat for second after a long, first over bid into a 55.2 back half against upper claimers here, but now tries upper conditioned foes that are typically one step shy of the Open. He draws the rail and could be a factor throughout.
Two races later in the 13th, look for Alexis Style to find the winner's circle. Last week he raced first over into a wicked 56-second back half and still finished second, beaten just three lengths by the pace-setting winner. Alexis Style will start from the rail this evening and should be in an ideal striking position down the backside and will likely benefit from much more honest fractions up front.
Then in the finale, a non-winners of $9001 last six conditioned event, take another shot on Three of Spades. Last week in this class, Three of Spades displayed plenty of late pace while second over and finished a solid second. A former multiple winner of the Open/Pref Handicap over this oval in his prime, Three of Spades has plenty of back class and appears to have some youthful vigor in his aging legs.