While baseball fans may refer to August as the ‘dog days of summer’, harness racing fans are accustomed to seeing many of the best trotters and pacers exit major stakes on Hambletonian Day at the Meadowlands and then venture directly into other lucrative spots at numerous ovals.
Last Friday evening at Hoosier Park, Lather Up (Montrell Teague) lived up his billing as the 3-10 favorite in the $330,000 Dan Patch Memorial when he quarter moved to command after a 24.4 opener, cruised by the half in 53.3, actually yielded to McWicked (Brian Sears) by three-quarters in 1:21.3, found another gear once he got steered to the passing lane and edged clear to a two-length score in 1:47.2.
A four-year-old home bred trained by George Teague, Jr. of Rainbow Blue and Wiggle It Jiggleit fame, Lather Up maintained his torrid form and will likely narrow the gap in the upcoming Breeders Crown/Hambletonian Society Top 10 poll behind idle Shartin N when the results are announced on Tuesday. Lather Up headed into the Dan Patch rated second among the voters, but he will likely get a few more votes this weekend following another giant performance.
Speaking of Shartin N, the Jim King, Jr. trainee has been virtually a picture of perfection this season, winning 11 of 12 starts with driver and co-owner Tim Tetrick at the helm. Shatin N and Lather Up will be headed in opposite directions throughout much of the summer and fall but it is possible the two could eventually meet in the $100,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway on Sunday, November 10 with possibly harness horse of the year honors on the line.
One night later at Northfield Park, a half-mile park near Cleveland, Bettor’s Wish (Dexter Dunn) easily lived up to his role as the 4-5 favorite when he gained command from post three in a soft 28.2 opener, cruised by the half in 57 flat, faced token pressure from Workin Ona Mystery (Tim Tetrick) down the backside and by three-quarters in 1:24.1 then sprinted clear of the pocket-sitting Captain Victorious (Yannick Gingras) to score by three lengths in 1:50.3, capped by a 26.2 kicker.
A sophomore son of Bettor’s Delight trained by Chris Ryder, Bettor’s Wish now owns six wins and $825,000 banked from nine starts this year and an 11-7-2 slate and $1.1 million banked from 21 career tries. He had been second in the Cane Pace, Meadowlands Pace and North America Cup in prior starts, but he looms a serious contender for divisional honors with the Little Brown Jug and Messenger Stakes on the horizon.
One race earlier on the Northfield card, Southwind Amazon (Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.) lived up to his role as the 7-5 choice when he overcame post seven to gain command in a 26.1 opener, maintained an honest tempo by the half in 54.2 and by three-quarters in 1:21.3 then just lasted late in 1:50.2. It was the 11th win in 23 starts this year for Southwind Amazon, who now boasts 80 wins and over $920,000 banked from 206 career outings.
One race earlier in the $50,000 Myron Charna Memorial for older pacers, Dancin Yankee (Chris Page) left and raced parked to gain command in 26.2, yielded to 1-5 choice Sectionline Story immediately, sate a two-hole trip to the half in 54.4 and by three-quarters in 1:21.3, angled out at the head of the lane and just got up in 1:49.2. An 11-year-old Yankee Cruiser stallion trained by Ron Burke, Dancin Yankee now owns a 9-2-3 slate in 22 starts this year and sports a commendable 78-50-33 slate and earned $1.97 million from 239 career tries.
That same evening at Yonkers Raceway in New York, Scott Rocks (Eric Goodell) forged a mild 7-5 upset when he gained command in a 27 opener, got a breather by the half in 56 flat, raced unpressed down the backside and by three-quarters in 1:23.4 then held safe the pocket-sitting 6-5 choice The Downtown Bus in 1:51.3. A nine-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding trained by Hunter Oakes now owns a 7-4-1 slate and $152,000 banked from 18 seasonal outings.
Scott Rocks, The Downtown Bus and The Real One, who rallied widest of all late despite excess dull cover to finish third in a good try, are all auditioning for an invite to the $150,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial Invitational at Harrington Raceway on September 16. Bear in mind that each of the last two winners of the Quillen, Sunfire Blue Chip and Bit Of A Legend N, won the Open Handicap at Yonkers nine days prior to the Harrington feature.
Then one later in the $46,000 Open Handicap for trotters, Six Pack (Ake Svandstedt) lived up to his billing as the 1-5 favorite when he gained command before the opener from his assigned post eight, got a breather by the half in 57.2, raced unpressed down the backside and by three-quarters in 1:25 then romped home much the best in 1:53.1. Six Pack likely earned an invite to the $1 million Yonkers International this fall while notching his second win in seven starts this year and earned $200,000 and 17 wins and $1.565 million lifetime from 30 career outings.
One race later in the $37,000 4-Year-Old Open for pacers, American History (Joe Bongiorno) notched his first win in 11 starts this year and did so in impressive style. Reserved well off the pace early, American History angled out second over nearing the half, fanned three-wide and swept to command by three-quarters in 1:22.2 then romped home eight lengths clear in 1:50.1, just missing the all-age track record.
A four-year-old American Ideal stallion, American History recorded his first win in 11 starts this year and now owns 12 wins and $650,000 banked from 35 career tries. American History has been ambitiously placed throughout his career but the Tony Alagna trainee could well be headed back into open stakes company this month and might eventually earn an invite to the Quillen and potentially the Potomac Pace.
On Sunday afternoon at Harrah’s Philadelphia, Our Max Phactor N (George Napolitano, Jr.) overcame an extended first over bid to post a mild 2-1 upset in the $30,000 Great Northeast Open Series for pacers, just outlasting the serious late bid of 10-1 Slick Tony (Tony Morgan) in 1:49.4. A seven-year-old Art Major gelding trained by Andrew Harris, Our Max Phactor N now owns a 3-4-1 slate and $88,000 banked from 14 starts this year and recorded his 24th victory in 98 career outings.
That same afternoon at Tioga Downs in upstate New York, upsets were the rule and not the exception in a pair of lucrative events for older trotters, one each for males and females.
In the $148,000 Crawford Farms Open Trot for boys, Speeding Spur N (Brian Sears) left to gain command in a 27.4 opener, yielded to favored Mission Accepted (Yannick Gingras) before the half, sat a tight pocket down the backside and through the far turn then angled out and nailed the favorite at the wire in 1:52.4 for an 8-1 upset. A six-year-old Pegasus Spur stallion now trained by Linda Toscano after spending the early portion of his career in Europe, Speeding Spur N notched his first win in three tries stateside and now owns 28 victories and almost $880,000 banked from 59 lifetime outings.
One race later in the $132,000 Joie De Vie Open for mare trotters, Custom Cantab (David Miller) stayed clear of the early trouble that took Manchego (Dexter Dunn) out of contention and overcame a first over journey to forge a 31-1 shocker in 1:52. The four-year-old daughter of Mr Cantab trained by Chris Beaver notched her second win in 10 starts this year and now owns 17 victories in 39 lifetime tries and earnings of just over $900,000. Atlanta carved out the early fractions but simply wilted in the lane in her second straight setback.
That same evening at Pocono Downs Treacherous Reign (Dexter Dunn), Warrwee Ubeaut (Yannick Gingras) and Tall Drink Hanover (Andrew McCarthy) won their $56,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes divisions for three-year-old fillies. Treacherous Reign prevailed as the 1-5 choice in the opening split in 1:49.4 for her fifth win in nine starts this year for trainer Tony Alagna. Warrawee Ubeaut led throughout to win her split in 1:50 as the 6-5 choice for trainer Ron Burke, her fifth score in 10 seasonal outings. Tall Drink Hanover, a budding star in this division, cruised home in the third split in 1:50.2 as the 1-5 choice for Alagna for her fifth win in nine seasonal outings.
Also that evening at The Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky, Shake N Bake (Elliott Deaton) and Chin Chin Hall (Peter Wrenn) won their respective KYSS elims for three-year-old colt trotters in 1:52.1 and 1:52.2, respectively, and should be tough to separate in the final where Chin Chin Hall will be the solid favorite. In the two KYSS slims for three-year-old filly trotters, however, Asiago (Jimmy Takter), third in the Grade I Hambletonian Oaks in her most recent outing, scored easily in 1:52, while Strip It Down As (Deaton) won her split in 1:55.
Also that night at Ocean Downs, a half-mile oval in Berlin, Maryland, five miles west of Ocean City, Where Are Thou (James Trae Porter) kicked off the card by posting a 14-1 upset for non-winners of one pacers in 1:58.4, earning her first triumph and giving catch driver Porter, 18, his first driving win in 13 tries. Where Are Thou left to gain the early advantage, yielded to 3-5 favorite Application (John Mackinnon), sat a tight pocket down the backside and through the far turn and angled to the passing lane for her maiden score.
Then several races later in the feature for older pacing males, Sentencing Memo (Eddie Davis, Jr.) overcame a long, first over journey to overhaul 7-5 choice Diamondkeeper (Russell Foster) forge a 5-1 upset in the non-winners of $7,501 last five starts class in 1:52.4. A six-year-old Western Terror gelding trained by Eric Foster, Sentencing Memo notched his first win at the seaside oval this summer and now owns a 5-2-2 slate and $40,000 banked from 27 starts this year and scored in gritty fashion in the Sunday feature.