Focus on Five-Eighths Mile Tracks

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Ted Black

April 4th, 2016

Standardbred racing fans looking for some weeknight action can turn their attention to Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland on Tuesday evening and then to Dover Downs on Wednesday as the five-eighths mile ovals in adjacent states in the Mid-Atlantic offer competitive cards.

Midway through the Tuesday card at Rosecroft, give railbound Upbyfive (Frank Milby) a genuine chance to post the upset in this non-winners of $4000 last five starts class for pacers. Although winless in four starts this year for owner-trainer Merle La Fountaine, Upbyfive has been second in each of his last two starts and has enough early speed to secure good position and then be in striking distance in the lane. He owns a 13-21-23 slate and $75,500 bankroll in 129 previous career tries.

Several races later in the tenth, Redneck Fortune (Jonathan Roberts) seeks his second straight in this non-winners of $4000 last five class after a sharp, first over score at this level last out for trainer Philip Jasper. James Riverside (John Gazzerro) was a gritty winner against lesser last out, but could be around for minor spoils along with Real Impulsive (Timmy Offutt) and Elusive Point (Donald Dancer).

Then one race later in a non-winners of five races lifetime class, Rocktavius (Roberts) seeks his fourth straight to begin the season for trainer Megan Roberts. This three-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding has won three straight since arriving from Dover and lowered his mark with each successive score from 2:02.2 to 1:55.2 to last week's 1:53.3. BP Burner (Dancer) and Breezeintheshade (Jared Moyer) both merit upset possibilities at this level.

Then two races later in the finale, look for class to prevail in this non-winners of $1000 last five starts bottom level conditioned for pacers. Varsity Hanover (Dancer) has yet to hit the board in four starts this year for owner-trainer James Whalen, Jr., but he was the track's fall meet champion when he was a fixture in the Open. Main A Dieu Too (Roger Plante, jr.) draws the rail for owner-trainer Gary Ewing and this nine-year-old Cambest gelding has been accustomed to facing much, much tougher throughout his career.

Then on Wednesday evening at Dover, the highlight of the card is undoubtedly the $36,000 Open/Preferred Handicap for trotters, which features JL Cruze (John Campbell), the defending Dan Patch winner as older male trotting champ. Last Frdiay evening, JL Cruze kicked off his 2016 campaign by rallying first over in the slop to capture the Open Handicap at The Meadowlands in 1:53 for trainer Eric Ell and co-owners Kenny Wood, Bill Dittmar and Steven Iaquinta.

JL Cruze has been assigned the outside slot in the field of eight, but it did not sway his Hall of Fame driver from making the trip south two days prior to his 61st birthday. Just inside of JL Cruze is Gural Hanover, who has won both of his starts this year and Somebody As, who boasts three wins in seven starts this season. Four of the other five trotters have each recorded at least two wins this year, while Spunky Jack has finished second five times in 11 winless tries on the season while typically competing in the top class at this oval.