Dover Downs set to host solid Thursday card

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Ted Black

November 28th, 2018

One week after the Thanksgiving Day holiday weekend and the coinciding 'Black Friday' mad dash to the mall for early Christmas shoppers, Dover Downs will offer a solid card on Thursday evening as good blend of talented invaders and local trainees battle in a handful of lucrative stakes.

Thursday's feature in the $260,000 Hap Hansen Progress Pace final for three-year-old pacing colts, an event that could still impact the final Hambletonian Society Top 10 poll next week and the year-end Dan Patch awards for this division. Maryland-bred Courtly Choice is among the top 10 now and is the division leader in the clubhouse courtesy of wins in both the Grade I Meadowlands Pace and Little Brown Jug, but several sophomores in the Progress will be looking to overtake him.

Last Wednesday evening Jimmy Freight (Scott Zeron) won the Progress elim by benefiting from a pocket trip through the first three calls and he brings 11 wins and nearly $700,000 banked from 20 starts this year for trainer Andrew Harris. But his main rival is just to his outside as Breeders Crown hero Dorsoduoro Hanover (Matt Kakaley) will look to rebound from a narrow defeat as the odds-on choice in his elim following a long, first over bid when the Ron Burke trainee leaves from post eight, one slot outside the elim hero.

Also looking to emerge triumphant in the last major stakes for this division are Thinkbig Dreambig (Yannick Gingras) and This Is The Plan (Tim Tetrick). Thinkbig Dreambig owns a 7-4-3 slate and earnings of nearly $500,000 from 20 starts this year for retiring conditioner Jimmy Takter, while This Is The Plan owns a modest 4-2-6 slate and $340,000 banked from 19 seasonal outings for Burke.

One race later the too older pacers on the circuit will clash in the $25,000 Open Handicap and the event includes Sicily, Soto, Daiymir, Blazing Bobby Sox and Q's Cruise. Sicily and Soto will both look their presence known early from their inside assignments while Harrington hero Blazing Bobby Sox will look to use his late kick to overhaul the leaders and overcome post eight in this spot.

In one of the early races on the card, Disco Soleil (Rod Allen) and Star Time will look to settle the issue late in the $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund final for two-year-old filly trotters. Two races later in the $100k DSBF final for two-year-old colt trotters, Embrace The Grind (Jonathan Roberts) will go in quest of his fifth win from six starts this year against contenders Just As Striking (Eddie Dennis) and Rich N Royal (Kim Vincent).

Several races later in the $100k DSBF final for two-year-old filly pacers, Vistamista (Victor Kirby) and The Lady Sheriff (Montrell Teague) will renew their rivalry in what looms a match race, then two races later in the $100k DSBF final for two-year-old colt pacers, Chillaxin Away (Tetrick) will clash with "Team Teague" products Dashiki (Teague) and Keepmywiglegametyt (Jim Morand) and Son Of A Lynx (Russell Foster), the half-brother to DSBF star Slick Tony, for bragging rights in this division.

This Sunday evening Rosecroft Raceway will garner center stage when the Maryland five-eighths mile oval hosts the third edition of the $100,000 Potomac Pace for Free-For-All pacer that will feature invaders Filibuster Hanover, Western Fame, Endeavor and Dealt A Winner, along with local kingpin, Rock N Roll Jet, who arrives riding a four-race win streak in the Open I Handicap.

The supporting card will include a $15,000 Aged Warriors event featuring Foiled Again, the sport's all-time richest horse with over $7.6 million banked. The 14-year-old Dragon Again gelding trained by Burke will begin the last month of his exceptional career when he makes his first and only start at Rosecroft on Sunday as part of his farewell tour. All eight of his rivals will be at least 10 years of age, including fellow 14-year-olds Arts Blaze and Talbot Redneck.

Also on the undercard is the $25,000 Maryland Invitational for Maryland-owned pacers that will include Slick Tony, Sam's Triple Crown, Hickory Aloha, All The Cookies, Kiss A Dragon, Lil Johnny and three others in a genuine "Free State Free-For-All" for local bragging rights.