Weekend Harness Preview for 2/22/2014
by Ted Black
Harness racing fans along the East Coast are finally getting a reprieve from the rough winter this weekend and a quartet of standardbred tracks will help warm things up even more with the return of some proven pacing stalwarts.
At The Meadowlands on Saturday night the New Jersey oval will offer two divisions of the William "Buddy" Gilmour series for three-year-olds that have not won two races or $30,000 lifetime and it will also present a Free-For-All that features the return of one of the sport's most accomplished aged pacers.
In the opening race on the card, the first division of the Buddy Gilmour series, Capital Account will rule as the solid favorite despite starting from post nine thanks to two wins in three previous starts. One of two Jimmy Takter trainees, the other is Pierce who has been second twice in three winless starts to the campaign, Capital Account is one of the budding stars on the sophomore scene.
In the very next race on the card, one of the sport's current stars makes his return in the Free-For-All. Golden Receiver, who thrives on racing during the winter at the Meadowlands, makes his seasonal debut following a sharp 1:52.1 qualifier. He yields a hint of fitness edge to last week's Open winner, Easy Again and prior winners Road Untraveled, Dovuto Hanover and Alexie Mattosie, but he owns a huge class edge over those rivals and should be poised to prevail at first asking.
Several races later in the fifth, look for Abelard Hanover to step into the B-1 class and notch his second straight tally. A fixture in the Open events last summer and fall when he took a stellar 1:48 mark at Pocono Downs, Abelard Hanover ended a modest drought last week by capturing the B-2. His main threat could come from Cobalt Man, who sports a 1:49.4 mark but also drew the outside.
Then in the sixth, the other half of the Buddy Gilmour series opener, look for Dinner At The Met and National Debt to settle the issue. Dinner At The Met has won all three of his starts this year and sports a 1;54.3 mark, while National Debt makes his seasonal debut off a good qualifer over the oval. Both will likely earn spots in the final and get the chance to face Capital Account.
Much later in the 11th, this non-winners of four races lifetime event will likely spotlight the talents of Wake Up Peter, a sharp 1:51.1 victor in his seasonal debut for trainer Ray Remmen. But locals Burkentine Hanover and Berkshire Bear and Dover Downs invader CC Heat Seeker will be among the primary pacers poised for an upset if Wake Up Peter is off his game.
Just across the Hudson River at Yonkers Raceway in New York, give PH Supercam a chance at redemption in the $33,000 Open. Last week he settled for third as the even-money choice following a long, first over bid. Last week's Open hero, Pan From Nantucket and Dover Downs invaders Texican N and Special Forces will be serious contenders.
Two races later in the eighth, look for AJ Corbelli to continue his winning ways as he ascends into the winners over $25,000 class. A winner of three straight races, AJ Corbelli is in peak form right now and another tally will likely earn him a berth in the Open next week. He drew post three and should be in an ideal spot throughout.
One race later in the ninth, the first half of the split, non-winners of $25,000 last six class at one-mile and one-sixteenth. look for Rollwitharry to benefit from an honest tempo and the added sixteenth. Last week he raced third over into a solid back half and rallied late to finish second against similar foes and should prevail at a decent price.
Then two races later in the 11th, the other half of the split non-winners of $25,000 last six condition, look for Glass Prince to post the upset despite moving up in class. Last week he was clearly the fastest winner of the four-way split non-winners of $18,000 last six class at this distance. He prevailed in 2:01 on a night when the other three splits went in 2:03.3, 2:03.4, and 2:04.2.
Much further south at Pompano Park in Florida, look for Legends Luck and Hillybilly to finish one-two in the non-winners of $6101 last five class. Both pacers are dropping out of the Open. Legends Luck has been largely unlucky while second three times in five winless starts this year and could prevail at a nice price, while Hillybilly will set the tempo as the favorite.
Two races later in the third, the $10,000 Open, all eyes will once again be on Prairie Jaguar. The dominant pacer in Florida since he arrived from Canada, Prairie Jaguar has won all three of his starts this year for trainer Michael Deters and was the US Trotting Association's Horse of the Month for January. But he has also been idle the last two weeks and perhaps that could enable one of his four rivals to finally get the better of him on Saturday night.
One race later in the fourth, look for Eastend Eddie to finally emerge with his first victory of the campaign. Last week he displayed plenty of late pace while second over in a brisk back half and there should be enough early speed in this event to insure an honest enough pace that would allow Eastend Eddie to rally strongly in the lane for his first victory from six starts this year.
Saturday morning Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland will offer four qualifiers that are obviously not betting events, but they signal the return of live racing to the five-eighths mile oval is just around the corner. Rosecroft will offer one more Saturday morning round of qualifiers on March 1, then will kick off its 27-day spring meet on Saturday, March 8. Racing will be conducted two nights each week - Tuesdays and Saturdays - through early June.