Friday harness preview 1/23/15

Ted Black

January 22nd, 2015

While much of the Northeast prepares for a potential winter storm this weekend, serious harness racing fans will seek to beat the inclement weather by cashing several tickets at Yonkers Raceway and the Meadowlands on Friday night just in case they get snowed in for the remainder of the weekend.

A trio of races for pacing fillies and mares - two at Yonkers and one at the Meadowlands - will certainly highlight the Friday evening programs at both tracks and there are upset prospects looming in all three events.

In the sixth race at Yonkers on Friday, the $35,000 Filly-Mare Open, a trio of distaffers looked poised for a visit to the winner's circle, led by last week's winner, Spirit Of Desire (Jason Bartlett). Riding a two-race win streak heading into this event, Spirit Of Desire led throughout to capture last week's F-M Open in 1:55 one week after she captured a non-winners of $25,000 last six conditioned event in 1:54.2, which proved to be faster than the F-M Open that evening. Spirit Of Desire certainly merits respect in this spot, but she will likely get overbet and is worth playing against.

Set Me Up (George Brennan) settled for fourth last week as the 5-2 favorite from post seven last week, but the Ron Burke trainee moves well inside to post three this evening. Winner of the inaugural F-M Open at the New York half-mile oval the week before, Set Me Up could regain her winning ways this evening if she is allowed to dictate the tempo as she had done on Jan. 9. She stayed sharp over the break by capturing two events at the Meadowlands and clearly deserves a chance to atone this evening.

Just to her inside is Sir Jillian Z Tam (Pat Lachance) who captured a non-winners of $26,650 last six class last week for her trainer-driver in 1:55.3. Just like Spirit Of Desire had done the week before when she used a conditioned event as an ideal prep for the F-M Open, Sir Jillian Z Tam could upset the top class here this weekend. She was not expected to win last week while upsetting UF Dragon's Queen in that odd condition, so another surprise could be in store.

Speaking of UF Dragon's Queen (Mark MacDonald) give the Mark Ford trainee a chance to make immediate amends for settling for second as the even-money choice in a conditioned race that appeared to be written for her. UF Dragon's Queen has finished second in each of her last three starts, but she should finally be able to shed her bridesmaid status this evening in this non-winners of $25,000 last six class. A victory would likely catapult her into the F-M Open here one week from now.

Friday evening at the Meadowlands the feature is also the sixth, the $30,000 B-1/A-2/A-1/Free-For-All for pacing fillies and mares. At first glance the unequivocal best mare in the field has the outside post, but three of her rivals could provide an upset.

Leaving from post eight on the far outside is Somwherovrarainbow, the talented five-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of the exceptional pacing mare, Rainbow Blue, the 2004 harness horse of the year. Somwherovrarainbow makes her seasonal debut off a solid qualifier in which she finished a neck back of Statesman, a tough older male pacer, in 1:51.1, a clocking that would likely win this event. Last season Somwherovrarainbow posted a 7-4-1 slate and earnings of $440,000 from 19 starts for trainer Joe Holloway and the millionaire mare will be expected to begin the 2015 campaign on a successful note.

But while Somwherovrarainbow (David Miller) looms as the prohibitive favorite in her seasonal bow, Icommandmyspirit (Mike Simons) and For The Ladies (Tim Tetrick) both appear obvious threats. Icommandmyspirit overcame a tough trip last week to capture this event in 1:51.1, while For The Ladies raced parked-the-mile and still finished third in her local debut after winning the F-M Open at Dover Downs the week before in 1:52.3. She should be able to work out a better trip this evening. Southwind Serenity (Brett Miller) has the rail following a 1:53 qualifier and may need several starts to be a serious factor at this level.