Dover Downs and Meadowlands Feature the Young and the Old

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Ted Black

January 5th, 2017

Both the Thursday evening standardbred card at Dover Downs in Delaware and the Friday night program at the Meadowlands in New Jersey will offer serious and novice harness racing fans alike the chance to witness some of the best trotters and pacers of varying ages that the sport has to offer.

Thursday's card at Dover Downs will mark the 13-year-old debut of legendary aged pacer Foiled Again, the Dragon Again gelding trained by Ron Burke who will be seeking to add to his record $7.4 million bankroll and when he makes his seasonal debut in the $20,000 Open. Foiled Again will soon be making the 300th start of his career and he could reach the 100-win plateau at some point this season, all of which should someday vault him into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame.

Several of his rivals will be seeking to foil his aging season debut. Special T Rocks, Soto, Papa Ray and Mustang Art all merit respect in this spot despite the fact that none of them have Hall of Fame credentials.

Then two races later in the featured $30,000 Preferred, Burke trainee Bettor's Edge, another talented aged pacer whose better days are behind him, will clash with talented locals Arque Hanover, Captive Audience, Seventh Secret and Little Ben in a stellar 2017 inaugural edition of the weekly event.

This Friday evening at The Meadowlands, standardbred fans will get more than a steady dose of trotting events and they should keep close tabs on one of them in the opener. Muscle Diamond (John Campbell), a five-year-old Muscle Hill stallion owned and trained by Brett Bittle, will be making his seasonal debut and just his second start following a 13-month absence. Muscle Diamond was among the sport's top sophomores in 2015 and brings a 7-7-3 slate and $620,000 bankroll from 23 starts into this event. He won his 2016 debut on Dec. 10 at the Big M following a 1:55.4 qualifying score over the New Jersey miler.
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Several other trotters on the card bear watching for future efforts. Shady McCoy and Promise Delivered, both of which are trained by Kevin McDermott, form a solid entry in a conditioned race. Alexander Hanover finished last season with a 1-7-3 slate and $60,000 bankroll and owns a 4-10-5 slate signifying his bridesmaid status, but he could emerge on the scene this season. Battle Image and Maryland-bred Classical Annie will also both be looking to get 2017 off to a fast start in their respective bows.

Last Saturday afternoon, admirers of talented two-year-olds were treated to several good ones at Laurel Park. Granted, none of them look poised for the Kentucky Derby or Kentucky Oaks this season at age three, but they could all make their presence known in stakes races in the near future.

In the fourth race on the Laurel card, Irish War Cry and O Dionysus staged an epic battle in the $100,000 Marylander Stakes. Irish War Cry, a Curlin colt trained by Graham Motion, remained perfect by notching his second victory in as many starts by outfighting O Dionysus for a nose victory after both traveled the seven panels in 1:22.71. Irish War Cry had won at first asking seven weeks earlier against maiden special weight foes, while O Dionysus now owns a 2-2-1 slate and $111,000 bankroll from six tries for trainer Gary Capuano.

Then two races later in the $100,000 Gin Talking Stakes for two-year-old fillies, Ms Locus Point notched her second straight victory after opening her career with a second-place effort at Parx when she romped home four lengths clear in 1:22.43. A daughter of Dialed In trained by John Servis of Smarty Jones fame, Ms Locust Point gained command soon after the break and led through serious fractions of 22.3, 45.3 and 1:09.3 - all clearly faster than the colts posted in the Marylander - and drew clear late while racing greenly. Runner-up Star Super was seven lengths clear of Lucky In Malibu and merits respect next out and beyond.