Friday Harness Preview for 7/4/2014

Profile Picture: Molly Jo Rosen

Molly Jo Rosen

July 4th, 2014

by Ted Black

On Friday evening many Americans will be celebrating the July 4 holiday by having cookouts and watching fireworks, but Yonkers Raceway in New York will seek to offer fans a few sparks when it hosts a trio of Open races in the middle of the card, two of them for trotters.

Friday's sixth race at Yonkers is the fist of two divisions of the rarely split Open Handicap for trotters, a race that many tracks have difficulty carding on a regular basis. But the New York half-mile oval will have two $44,000 Open events on Friday and both are very intriguing.

In the sixth, much of the attention will naturally be focused on Wishing Stone (George Brennan), the durable and talented seven-year-old trotting stallion who has won 22 of 70 starts and over $2.25 million in his career for trainer Ron Burke. Last week he made his seven-year-old debut by overcoming post 10 to win the A-2 handicap at The Meadowlands in 1:52.4 with Yannick Gingras in the bike.

While Wishing Stone looms as the logical favorite here - he won the Open Hcp at Yonkers last December parked-the-mile from the eight hole at 3-5 - he is not a cinch to succeed.

Coraggioso (Brian Sears) was second in this event on June 20 after successive scores on May 23 and June 13 for trainer Julie Miller and owner Tom Durkin, the NYRA track announcer who will be retiring at the end of the Saratoga Race Course meet. Coraggioso is accustomed to being assigned the outside in this event and was given the eight hole again here despite missing a week and despite the presence of multi-millionaire Wishing Stone.

Zooming, who is making the 100th start of his career for trainer Amber Buter, drew the coveted rail and merits respect, as does invader You Rock My World (Jason Bartlett) who has won seven straight races for trainer Heidi Rohr at Saratoga and Tioga Downs and gets the acid test while facing seasoned, aged trotters in this half of the Open.

One race later in the Filly-Mare Open for pacers, Monkey On My Wheel (Sears) gets assigned the eight hole after winning last week's Open from post seven as the 3-5 favorite for trainer Casie Coleman. She has won this race three times in her last four tries and also won the Preferred at Pocono Downs and was locked in while sixth in the Roses Are Red eliminations at Mohawk last month.

Summertime Lea, who began the campaign competing in the Bluechip Matchmaker series over this oval, finished fifth in the $300,000 Roses Are Red final after being a sharp second behind Anndrovette in the elim. She has been idle since the June 14 final and will likely need a race while drawing post seven.

Two other distaffers could be primed for upsets. Fashion Mystery (Eric Carlson) steps back up into the Open after defeating conditioned foes last week in 1:53.3. Handsoffmycookie saw her modest two-race win streak come to an end last week in this event, but the Maryland-bred millionaire likely needed the race and should be much sharper and forwardly placed throughout.

Then in the eighth, the other half of the split Open Handicap for older trotters, much of the attention will go toward Lorenzo Dream (Sears) and DW's Ny Yank (Brennan) who were one-two in this event last week and have been assigned the exact same posts they had one week ago. DW's Ny Yank will likely retain his role as the favorite, but Lorenzo Dream's price will probably drop in half, from 5-1 to 5-2.

But one Delaware invader could be primed to upset them both. NF Happenstance captured last week's "Winners Over" trot at Harrah's Philadelphia and had captured the Open at Harrington four times before that, including wins over the talented Traverse Seelster. NF Happenstance is in peak form for trainer-driver Jack Parker, Jr. and he has enough inside speed to make his presence known early and still have plenty left in the lane.