‘Derby’ Duels And Amazing Aged Battles At Mohawk; Octo-Simpsons Sunday

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

September 14th, 2017

Mohawk hangs the main marquee in the sport again this week with a parade of stakes finals featuring the season’s top stars, along with high-hopes elms for two-year-old pacers. The latter are handled by the TwinSpires-exclusive blog—the Breeders Crown Countdown. Get your betting accounts filled for action, compare your choices with our suggestions in both blogs and fire away.

A common tool, the H2W (the horses-to-watch) list, is here for your perusal to help you spice up the prices on all betting pools. Do your own handicapping and then consider our H2W selections when playing your bets. Of course, remember to be fully armed with a plentiful TwinSpires betting account.


What was once a major trot stakes, the Helen Smith is still an event at Freehold but has nowhere near the importance it once held. Only four sophomore fillies are in this year’s edition, worth a mere $25,000, on Friday, Sept. 15. Still, three high-profile trainers are represented—Trond Smedshammer with Hillarmbro, Julie Miller with Southwind Prius and Ron Burke with Romancing Rachel. The other entry is she with the most wins and most money: Sountwind Avanti, trained by Anette Lorentzon.

Although she has not won this season yet, Hillarmbro is a serious candidate here, as well as she is all you can hope for when it comes to price. Smedshammer and the rail at Freehold could out-trot the others, having as much to gain in the road to the Breeders Crown.


The $684,000 Canadian Trotting Derby (CTD) is, by and large, the glamour-boy trotters second Hambletonian and through the years the champion of the August classic, along with many of his foes, has traveled north to claim rule over the division.

The Hambo winner, What The Hill, was disqualified for severe interference. Perfect Spirit, inherited the win. He has not been seen since. But What The Hill, as well as International Moni (who was bothered early in the Hambo and broke) have been battling to avenge their miserable Hambo fates.

In one CTD elim, What The Hill was rightfully the public choice but was beaten by Bills Man, who took live cover behind him and by Dancer Hall, who was a 20-1 suck-a-long. The other CTD elim was a wire-to-wire mile by “now horse” Dover Dan, who embarrassed Long Tom, who had no excuse not catching him in the stretch.

This week, What The Hill won’t be the great price he was in the Hambletonian but nor will he be the public choice. That means another good price on the avenging “Hill” for trainer Ron Burke.

To pump up exotics, take seriously the presence of International Moni and Lindy The Great. The two Antonacci trotters made the CTD final and with a little racing luck it would be no surprise if they win. Hopefully, Hill won’t give the gift of DQ so they can and will be a second or lighter choice than Dover Dan and Long Tom.


In the $385,000 Elegantimage there is little to say about the field. Instead, a chant would suffice—Ariana G, Ariana G, Ariana G, Ariana G, Ariana G, Ariana G, Ariana G, Ariana G, Ariana G, Ariana G, Ariana G, Ariana G, Ariana G, Ariana G, Ariana G, Ariana G, Ariana G, Ariana G, Ariana G . . .  

Seriously, where in the name of the namesake of this race is there a glamour-girl filly trotter that can beat the “chanted one” if she doesn’t make it entirely possible by racing like Father Patrick did in the 2015 Hambletonian—that is, breaking at the start and galloping the whole mile?

This race is for second so invest in exotics with one of the greatest key horses to use in the win spot of modern times or pass it. A good second would be Dream Baby Dream. She broke in her elim and still made the final. What a great cold duo. 


The group of pacing mares for the $256,000 Milton Stakes Final at Mohawk on Sept. 16 is one of the more competitive in the event’s history. How the public will discern a favorite may be based upon recent form more than career history, especially since Lady Shadow tanked last weekend, just making into the final. As well, Pure Country is finding a place in this division after some early doubt and Darlinonthebeach has given notice she will be competitive as an aged mare.

So, there could be arguments for those and even for Wrangler Magic and Sandbetweenurtoes, both showing a preference for making money in Canada, and for L A Delight, who has been tough on mares just as good as these, and Blue Moon Stride, who is finding her foot for cashing checks as an elder.

This also may be as simple as Lady Shadow tossed in a minor performance, having a trip problem early. But she is here and due to last week could go off much more than if she had won the elim. There is a lot of seep here, so a good position that saves some ground while the speedsters shuffle through three-quarters could hand the win to Lady Shadow when best for bettors—when she isn’t the favorite.


The $593,000 Maple Leaf Trot is 10-strong with hard-lined older trotters of both sexes. It’s a huge purse for some entered that have not had the opportunities to become familiar names this season. This situation occurs due to the bad second-elim performances of Marion Marauder and Resolve, who have beaten many that make up this final field.

The absence of said trotters may only make it easier for Hannelore Hanover (mare) to win this, which may be no surprise to the betting public. By contrast, JL Cruze may once again be offered at a big price and get a front-trip advantage, His elim included two moves and he still made it into the final, where he looms dangerous enough to also take advantage of a weaker field than expected.


Sunday, Sept. 17 Philadelphia hosts eight Simpson Stakes. Each round, for either soph-colt pacers or trotters, is worth $30,000. Here’s what we think; in the interest of space, we offer our top two contenders based on expected probable prices (check program for race order).

Soph trottere
division 1: Broadway Promise; Coogan
division 2: Snowstorm Hanover; Two AM
division 3: Backstage Pass; AWOL Hanover
division 4: Perfect Spirit; Aplomb Hanover

Soph pacers
division 1: Mac Attack; Candell
division 2: Summer Side; Q’s Cruise
division 3: Western Joe; Eddard Hanover
division 4: Southwind Yukon; Harry Terror

H2W Legend

Review our choices and follow the wagering at the prescribed track. These are possible contenders we have judged from reviewing races. The horses’ names are listed beneath the name of the track after the date they will be racing. The race in which they are entered (R and race number) follows. If a + is in front of a horse’s name it means it is appearing on the list for the second (and last) time because it failed to win the first time it appeared. An “ae” signals the horse is entered on the also-eligible list. If a horse is listed twice, refer to the entries on the night of the race since a horse may enter in more than one race. Types of wagering on any of the H2W listed horses are based on your judgment. If you have any questions, email us at TwinSpires.


9/14/17, Big Brad R4; Herlin R7; Churita R10

9/14/17, Tymal Illhavanthr R9
9/16/17, Astor R8; Sunshine West R11
9/16/17, Bands Houdini R2; +Lambo R7

9/16/17, Pinkman R4

9/15/17, +Reidio Star R3; +Run Run Kermit R6; +Intractable R11

9/14/17, Ianthe Hanover R6

9/18/17, Its Complicated R8

9/14/17, +Bettin Chris R9

Running Aces
9/16/17, Tornado Henry R3; Giggle Monster R6; Liquor’skwikker R7

9/15/17, +Bonita Island R2; +Mr French R10; +Spanish Art R11

9/14/17, +Chapter Too R7
9/18/17, +Funknpancakes R6; +L Dees Courageous R7