‘Fear’ Vs. Huntsville Redux; Red Mile Hosts Frosh Battles; Gold Cup & Saucer Upset In The Works
The freshman season ensues on the bluegrass starting Aug. 17 with divisions leading to lucrative Kentucky Sires Stakes (KYSS) finals at The Red Mile. Three splits each for colt and filly trotters and pacers start off and complete our weekend that includes Pennsylvania Sires Stakes (PASS) over the weekend. As well, the traditional Gold Cup & Saucer Final at Charlottetown Driving Park highlights the northeastern harness menu on Friday and Saturday.
This weekend also marks the debut of the 2017 TwinSpires-exclusive blog—the Breeders Crown Countdown (BCC). The BCC, also in association with the Hambletonian Society, features exclusive focused coverage of selected top events in all divisions up to the October elims and finals, this year at Hoosier Park, which we will cover in an expanded BCC edition. Our first BCC episode addresses the glamour-boy-and-girl trotters that adorned the previous exclusive Hambletonian Trail blog for this season with the “Zweig” finals and consolations at Vernon Downs.
The lucrative H2W (the horses-to-watch) list, as usual, is posted, so 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. Check it out along with all of the North America harness action covered below.
State-bred colts and fillies contest $30,000 KYSS splits to earn spots in the finals at The Red Mile. There are three each for the sexes on Aug. 17. Seven, two of which are first-time starters and another two that are maidens, go in round one for the colts. Five-time winner Max will be pounded at the windows. In his fifth start with only a single win, however, the Cash Hall colt Cordoba Hall, trained by Sherri Holliday, can be confidently backed as a contender. He is improving and may do so enough to supply a strong price here.
The middle episode for colts also sends seven and two first-time starters. One of them is worth a serious look. Raileegotaholdonme is by Explosive Matter, a sire that has been responsible for some upsets already this season and a win first out could be in the cards for this guy in a field that is soft, short and uncertain in strength.
The last KYSS for the boys offers eight, with just one first-time starter. It’s difficult to predict a favorite here but for sure the chances of the Manofmanymissions colt Zeppelin Bi, trained by Anthony Macdonald may not be the public choice and therefore present a good price. Certainly his sire is carrying great influence having one of his best seasons so far.
Ten fillies are on tap for each three of the KYSS splits. In the first, it’s hard to go against Jimmy Takter’s Muscle Hill daughter, Special Hill, here, but she will be no stranger to the betting majority so we’ll take our chances with another Explosive Matter student, Sunset Drifter. She is looking for her first win but that will only increase the odds for this sole product of the sharp sire.
In round two, only a pair of gals have broken their maiden. Our sires guide tells us to be bold here and go with the 10 horse, Top Expectations. Yet another product from Explosive Matter, the post must be ignored to get a price. She should be in the mix if you get scared to take the win.
The last KYSS of the day and the for the fillies is the only of all these affairs to send out a product of Lucky Chucky. Special Miss, in her third out since getting into the business, has only a third but if she fires it would be no surprise if she followed in the square steps of her talented sire, who is just starting to make an impression in the shedrow this season.
At the Meadows on Aug. 18, soph-colt pacing divisions feature a head-to-head return of their division’s stars as Fear The Dragon versus Huntsville in the first of two PASS $70,000-plus chapters.
What can you say about this meeting of the monstrous duo? Only one thing: if once again Huntsville is the favorite (as he was when “Fear” beat him in the Adios), Fear will have some value in the win spot. If Fear is the favorite, you may wish to pass or key out Huntsville for an exacta with someone who beats him for second. Blood Line is that other horse. Takter is gearing him for a huge Little Brown Jug, as we see it, and it would not surprise us to see him in the thick of this and possibly ignite a healthy exacta due to out-pacing Huntsville. As a complete upset, the chances are slim to none but not so impossible as anyone may believe.
Division two has eight and a lot more challenges in the field. The crowd is bound to go heavy on the 1 and 2 horses from Ron Burke’s barn but we see improvement and price promise with Ocean Colony. He is another Takter horse aiming at the “Jug” and he has been carrying his weight among the division. Also in the mix is Huntsville stablemate Summer Side, who we will never see at the Jug, based on Ray Schnittker’s assessment that he is not “a moron.”
GOLD CUP & SAUCER SERVED
The $60,000 Gold Cup & Saucer at Charlottetown Driving Park is the signature event for the Maritimes harness track and going into the 2017 event everyone is routing for the defending champion, YS Lotus. His “Saucer” trial was phenomenal, though it should have been easier for the 1-1 choice, but there is no way to back him in the final on Aug. 19 at the park if you want to make money.
He was fast but just as fast was the horse he beat by a neck, Sports Lightning. For a 15-1 shot to race as well as the anointed YS Lotus, there should be major attention—but there won’t. Sports Lightning drew post 8 in the final and the majority of the bettors will rather settle for odds-on prices with YS Lotus. Not us. We love how Sports Lightning raced and feel that he needs only a little luck to get a great trip and upset the star of the show.
GREEN ON BLUEGRASS
KYSS for freshman colts and fillies on the pace are the showcases for The Red Mile on Saturday, Aug. 19 in four $30,000-plus splits. Nine well-bred babies hit the clay-based surface first. Unbeaten Gran Teton from the Takter files will get much play but we look beyond the obvious with Tony Alagna’s Rush To Judgement. This is only his second outing and his improvement scale may be higher than most will accept.
The second colt episode includes five maidens out of eight starters. Pay attention to Oberlin, whose sire, Pet Rock, has been producing some check-cashers. Oberlin has one win, one place and two shows in six starts, showing strong ability to compete and he should be overlooked by sons of Somebeachsomewhere—there are five here.
First for the fillies is a nine-horse field with three maidens and one first-time starter. A McArdle gal, Tipp City, shows promising signs of getting faster and richer and among these looks strong.
The other filly split offers some well-bred speed in a Hurrikane Kingcole filly (already an $84,000 winner) and some deep Artsplace mare blood. One of those is Newsday, from the Joe Holloway barn. Newsday is one of those youngsters that may blossom at two, a process that has already begun. Joe is great with pacing fillies and when he gets one that shows off at two, look out.
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.
8/18/17, +Northern Matador R1
8/19/17, Paperback Thriller R3; Showtime Terror R5; Dream N Of Mona R10
8/19/17, +Laugh Out Loud R5
8/19/17, Seventimesavirgin R8
8/20/17, Wayward Son R6
8/17/17, +Unreal R11; +Love To Glide R 13
8/18/17, Hot Roddy R5
8/20/17, Garnet R3; +Rose Run Tyrone R4; Hockey Hanover R5
8/17/17, +Dolce Seelster R2; +Gunnar Boy R3
8/19/17, Spectre Of A Gun R4; +Coastal Treasure R8
8/18/17, +All Native R8
8/19/17, Shanghai King R1; +Major Camby R7
8/19/17, Artzuma R4; Remix R8
8/17/17, Shakerattlenrock R4
8/18/17, +Cash Leebrook R10
8/19/17, My Buddy Minkster R5; Nvestment Bluechip R7
8/17/17, +No Mo Fo Jo R5; +Python Blue Chip R7
8/18/17, +Frost Damage Blues R12
8/19/17, Chevals Clivedale R7