2020 Harness Racing Season Welcomes New Decade

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

January 1st, 2020

The first TwinSpires preview blog of the decade should continue seamlessly from the previous 10 years. You need blank pages for your betting ledger, but our relationship continues like any morning that we awake after a good night’s sleep—ready to face the challenges of making a profit playing harness racing. .

The first few months of 2020, we’ll assist bettors, as an overture to this year’s stakes season, playing conditioned races only. The TwinSpires harness blog selects races from North American raceways in search of potentially profitable plays in overnight events. We begin these first few months with selected features and Power Plays (PoP), for horses in all types of wagers. Do your own handicapping again this year and respect our off-the-beaten-track opinions on “live horses” that may improve to your betting agenda.

Another year for the weekly H2W (horses-to-watch) list comes to blog followers in every preview blog. Consider our H2W selections when you wager any single- or multi-exotic races. Now,ready your new bookkeeping ledger, arm your TwinSpires betting account and consult TwinSpires harness blog each week (previews and weekly updates) for all of your harness action.


Flamboro / R3—6
Thursday / Jan. 2

A Pick-4 stream begins with Race 3 and another Pick 3 launches with Race 5. Individual races involved also offer exactas, trifectas and superfectas.

Race 3
Acefortyfour Pat had significant trouble last week and was disqualified from sixth, placed ninth. Since stepping up after winning strongly twice in lower conditions she scratched and lost in the DQ race at this level. She’s in a good spot and that speed she displayed in last week’s unfortunate mile is a good sign, though we toss the race and give her the benefit of the doubt after stepping up from a set of wins.

Whozyomomma is fairly obvious to hit the board. Certainly last week’s strong overland journey qualifies her. Topsill Beach was good in a Western Fair extra-distance event two back and could pump up some exotics getting into the exotic pictures.

Race 4
This is an evenly matched bunch with the biggest droppers on the outside. They should get the strongest support, but we focus on Bankroll. The Jodie Cullen-trained colt starts his sophomore season with promise to show far more than his foes. He was around 5-2 at this class in December and finished a close third and should go off much higher here.

Gody Dorleans has been racing better than his odds and was well-supported last out, coming up short. The others are obvious per their Morning Lines (ML).

Race 5
If I were a trainer I would consider putting in a tag for Motor Dame, who steps down from a $15G tag where she was hanged on the outside, beaten by 4 ½ lengths. Having a slight class advantage makes her a bargain in this $7G conditioned/claimer. The others do not have much of an edge class wise and certainly not as speedsters. It looks like Motor Dame could emerge between a few horses too short to keep control of the lead.

Onimpulse looks as good as the ML favorite leaving to her left. Coming from Western Fair and leaving from the 9 hole means if she can hit the board anywhere near her ML she will contribute greatly to any exotics.

Race 6
Credit To Burn certainly does not burn money. In similar company she has worked hard and cashed much. Why, then, is she 8-1 in the ML? Good chances with better odds are always a bettor’s plus.

For your single-race exotic-wagering considerations, the next three entries deserve attention. Bette Mittler stepped up to win at this level but may be better for the last three spots. Shad comes from Woodbine/Mohawk (WoMo), having cashed a few times here in late ’19. Cabernet can hit an exacta ticket or two at a price.


Meadowlands / R3
Thursday / Jan. 2

We very much enjoy finding horses to bet which promise to offer a high win price based on a story they tell from their recent races (some general history does not help to reinforce confidence). This is why we introduce this feature’s suggested contender, Uhlan Noir.

Having raced at Pocono and won at around this level in May of ’19, the gelding had a few breaking problems stepping up greatly; then he was given a rest. Six months later a new trainer handled him at Monticello. He raced well in his first start on the four turns and then started screwing up his gait again in two races where he was well supported.

He was taken to Freehold and handed over to Paul Walker. Uhlan Noir qualified easily in a trot-pace field, though he finished last, staying afloat with a steady gait. It was a good prep, it being a qualifier, and was more like a safe ticket to race again than a show of current ability.

Walker, obviously confident, shipped Uhlan Noir to the Meadowlands and placed the 12-year-old in just the kind of race he won at Pocono when his gait remained tuned. He has a ML of 15-1 and will go off higher than his chances to win.

Consider knocking out a load of contenders in the Survivor Pick 8 if Uhlan Noir rolls home first. As well, what a great Daily Double would rise with him in the first leg. Ditto for the other exotics while across the board his prices would rule.


Cal-Expo / R1, R3
Friday / Jan. 3

All but one horse we dug at Cal-Expo last weekend comes back for a second chance this weekend, leaving us with some good shots at cashing across the board and prime candidates for all exotics.

The race starting the program sends two contenders in that group to post. Special Sauce finished last in a field of five as the field passed him by three-quarters. He had no chance from there but as fine to the half. The favorite won.

Timetoplaythegame made two moves in the same race as the second choice, having best of the field’s speed but coming up short from a tougher trip than all of them.

In Race 3 another two from last week’s California crew returns. Platinum Time was 23-1 for Kathleen Plested on a program where we hit her $45 winner. Platinum Time raced evenly in a favorite-winning mile, finishing fifth, but we expect an improvement, as Plested’s horses do well in general and can turn around quickly from week to week.

Finishing just behind Plested’s horse is Cenalta Dragster, who flashed early speed at 28-1 and was shuffled by a tough second-tier attack and faded in the stretch. Trainer Gordon Empey sends this one out from a barn that became competitive last season.


Northfield / Races 1,2
Saturday, Jan. 4

Opaline Blue Chip has a strong win percentage for racing in 25 miles. “Opaline” hit the board in 40 percent of those 25 races and trainer Sam Schillaci is in as good a shape as any to beat the horse driven by Aaron Merriman (whose fans award his mounts with low-odds performers due to a raw number of wins that no one has run through the profit test).

Opaline’s speed badge, 1:53.3, comes from a win on a half-mile track; it ties with two others showing that mark at five-eighths and mile ovals. As well, it is comparable with Aaron’s horse, sporting a 1:52.4 on a seven-eighths. All of this points to Opaline Blue Chip as a decent overlay in the seven-horse field.

Schillaci horses, while beating Merriman’s charges in succession, may capture the Daily Double. Miss Dollar Mam finds a great spot in Race 2 to rebound off of an 18-1 loss last week. She was stuck on the inside in a good spot fourth into the stretch, shaking loose too late with inches between her and the three others fighting for fourth.

H2W Legend

Review our choices and confirm the wagers available at the prescribed track. H2W offers possible contenders researched from reviewing races. Horses’ names are listed beneath the name of the track with the date of their race and the race number (R6 ) follows. If a + is in front of a horse’s name, it appears on the list for the second time (horses are listed twice only if, at first, they failed to win. An “ae” signals also-eligible. Types of wagers to make are based on your judgment.


1/3/20, +Gitchie Girl R7; +Somkinda Hanover R12
1/4/20, +Blue Star Trooper R1; +China King R1; +Fred And Roz R8; +Some Playa R9

1/6/20, +Roll With Fred R3

1/2/20, Momara R8; Twice An Angel R9; Hammering Haley R10

1/2/20, Allies Dragon R2; Lemonaideshine R7
1/3/20, Elleofadeli R1; Raising Kerckhaert R2

1/2/20, Awake My Soul R4; I Will Do It R7
1/3/20, +Bringer Of Rain R3
1/4/20, +Bell I Know R11

1/6/20, +Art Seeker R4; +Four Card Major R4; +Media Buzz R9

1/3/20, Northernlands R3; Elysium Seelster R11; Special Luke R13
1/4/20, Ideal Magic R14

1/4/20, +One Last Howl R3; +Tucson Breeze R13
1/5/20, +Casimir Quiche R2

1/2/20, +Send A Note R2; Lucys Man R5; Hititoutofthepark R9