Boys Battle For Real In ‘Beal’ As Top-10 Contenders For August Surface

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

July 1st, 2015

Colt trotters will receive the spotlight this weekend at Pocono Downs with the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Final at Pocono Downs, along with its $75,000 consolation, both attracting the highest talent of the sophomore trotting division.

The consolation is among the action earlier on Pocono’s Saturday card and features Habitat, who broke in his elimination and races here for redemption. His break last week may be credited to storms that traveled over the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania area but that may not add to him being unbeatable. This speedy trotter has two Hambo eligibles he may fear: Aldebaran Eagle and Donatomite.

Aldebaran Eagle has shown prowess when he sits behind trotters, winning through this style at 80-1 at Lexington during Grand Circuit action last fall. Contrarily, he attempted to cut the mile in his elimination, which proved to be a failure. Meanwhile, he draws the rail again and should aim to capitalize off a stalking trip.

As for Donatomite, the lightly raced trotter from the Trond Smedshammer barn made a menacing bid going after Pinkman into the final turn of their elim, but self destructed after a period of massive acceleration. This colt is likely to get better with every start and will be value from his starting spot of post 8.

Major Field

The Earl Beal Jr. Memorial Final will distinguish one of these trotters from the rest of the division, as well as crown them the top contender heading into the Hambletonian. We’re going to run through this field horse-by-horse in post order.

Pinkman is a trotter with talent but established himself as vulnerable losing the first race of his career last week. From the rail he’ll be able to get himself towards the front fairly easily but he has shown that he has chinks in his armor.

Cruzado Dela Noche continues to improve heading into the final, winning his elim with partial thanks to the break of odds-on favorite Habitat. He coasted home after brushing past pacesetter Aldebaran Eagle around the final turn, displaying his ever-improving strength. However, he may be among the more heavily bet horses here.

Centurion Atm has put in two good performances this season but will need to show more in the final. He closed to finish third in the elim that got him here but it certainly helped that half of the field went off stride. He’ll start from post 3, which may put him in a spot closer to the lead than from where he’s been racing recently. He’s definitely a factor.

Uncle Lasse toppled the underdog of the sophomore division, Crazy Wow, in his impressive grind to victory last week. All season he has seemed like the stronger end of trainer Jimmy Takter’s militia, so it would not be surprising to see this guy be the public choice.

Crazy Wow is one of three trotters not eligible to the Hambletonian competing here. He fought gamely to hold off Uncle Lasse in the elim last week but came a head short. This colt has proven he can trot fast but he also has a history of breaks. If the public dismisses his loss to Uncle Lasse, he will be the favorite.

Wicker Hanover played David when he tackled Pinkman, acting in the role of Goliath, in the final quarter of the mile last week to defeat Takter’s talented gelding. His ability to come from behind may be what wins him this race but it will come down to his odds for us. He is the second trotter here that is ineligible to the Hambletonian.

Shoot The Thrill, the final horse here not aiming at the Hambletonian, kind of qualified for the final based on mediocrity. He was not impressive, he just held onto the final qualifying position. He seems like he’s racing solely for a check and could be lucky to get that.

Boots N Chains seems to have made the final on consequence. He managed to beat Aldebaran Eagle, who aborted his mission of making the final as soon as he was passed in the stretch, as well as breakers Walter White and Habitat. He has a tough order to make from post 8, so he is another who may be racing for a minor spot.

Southwind Mozart would be more of a contender here if he were not starting from post 9. He faced tough trotters this season, including Guess Whos Back, Canepa Hanover, and French Laundry in the New Jersey Sires Stakes. He never came close to beating any of them but he picked up minor awards fairly easily. He was second in his elim after changing his maiden status at Pocono 12 days before. His post will definitely be a challenge but this guy may complete the ultimate triple or even exacta if he gets away well enough.

Overall, this race will have a competitive betting board, with a few cents separating one colt from favoritism with another. With that in mind, this will be a race where price shopping is required, as competition on the tote board may manifest value in sharp horses due to money being placed elsewhere. The colts we’ll be watching on the win end are Cruzado Dela Noche and Centurion Atm, both of which may be in the 4-1 and 8-1 range. Keep Southwind Mozart in mind, as this colt will be heavily dismissed from his outside post but is the best horse here that can make this trifecta pay a good sum.

Top 10 Hambletonian Contenders
As of July 1, 2015

1. Uncle Lasse
2. Pinkman
3. Habitat
4. Cruzado Dela Noche
5. Canepa Hanover
6. Centurion Atm
7. The Bank
8. Guess Whos Back
9. French Laundry
10. Mission Brief

The racing of classic divisions—soph-colt-and-filly trotters—on their quest to the Hambletonian and “Oaks” finals continues its exclusive, extended coverage from TwinSpires and the Hambletonian Society.

Recaps of races covered in this blog can be found at the archive section of the web’s home for the Hambletonian Society.