Harness action heats up after Derby ends

Profile Picture: Ted Black

Ted Black

May 6th, 2018

While thoroughbred racing fans may have been looking for an early evening respite after Justify splashed home three lengths clear as the 5-2 favorite in the latest renewal of the $2 million Kentucky Derby, serious harness racing fans were paying close attention to the action at the Meadowlands, Pocono Downs and Rosecroft Raceway.

Just past the midway point of the card at Pocono Downs, a solid field of seven pacers clashed in the first of two $50,000 Van Rose Invitational divisions, the first leg of the Great Northeast Open series.

In the opening split, Rodeo Romeo (George Napolitano, Jr.) lived up to his billing as the 6-5 favorite when he left to secure good early position, brushed past Dr J Hanover (Brett Miller) to gain command before reaching the opener in 26.2, rolled by the half in 55 flat, met token pressure from Boston Red Rocks down the backside and by three-quarters in 1:22.1 then sprinted clear in 1:49.2.

A six-year-old Rocknroll Hanover stallion trained by Chris Ryder, Rodeo Romeo notched his third win from eight starts this year and pushed his career earnings past $235,000 while lowering his lifetime mark. Dr J Hanover had little to offer in the lane and just lasted for the place spot over Long Live Rock.

Then several races on the latter portion of the card in the second Van Rose division, Rockin Ron (Anthony Napolitano) gained command in a modest 27.3 opener, got a breather by the half in 57.1, kept Bettor Memories at bay down the backside and by three-quarters in 1:23.3 after a wicked 26.2 third split, then just held safe the late inside bid of 6-5 favorite Mach It So (George Napolitano, Jr.) for a head victory in 1:50.2 as the 2-1 second choice.

A six-year-old Real Desire gelding trained by Burke, Rockin Ron notched his third win in eight starts this year and pushed his seasonal earnings just shy of $100,000. Winner of the first two legs of the Levy series, Rockin Ron missed one leg and finished eighth from post eight in the lucrative final. But he rebounded in a big way on Saturday night - courtesy of the second quarter breather - and held safe the durable and classy Mach It So for the narrow score.

The second split lost a little luster when two-time George Morton Levy series final hero Keystone Velocity was a late judges scratch. The durable and well-traveled 10-year-old Western Hanover stallion trained by Rene Allard was last year's champion aged pacer and ended the campaign by taking the second edition of the $100,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway in 1:47.3 to establish a new, all-age track record over the Maryland five-eighths mile oval.

Just past the midway point of the Meadowlands program, Filibuster Hanover (Yannick Gingras) lived up to his role as the 2-5 favorite off his stellar 1:49.3 qualifier to capture the first division of the Graduate Series for four-year-old pacers. A gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere trained by Ron Burke, Filibuster Hanover brushed to command after Western Joe (Scott Zeron) led the field by the opener in 24.4, got a breather to the half in 54 flat, rolled by three-quarters in 1:22.3 and held safe Western Joe late to capture the one-mile and one-eighth event in 2:04.

Then one race later in the $182,500 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for older trotters, much of the attention was on Hannelore Hanover as the reigning horse of the year made her seasonal debut in the one-mile and one-eighth event as the 4-5 favorite despite starting from post 12 in the second tier. Crazy Wow (David Miller), Mambo Lindy and Will Take Charge were also single-digits at post time, but few onlookers were seeking upset.

When the gate folded in the Cutler Memorial, Will Take Charge and Crazy Wow displayed the best early speed and vied for command through a 26.1 opener, while Hannelore Hanover was reserved well off the pace. Crazy Wow carved out the fractions by the half in 55.1 and by three-quarters in 1:24.4, with Hannelore Hanover racing second over behind Mambo Lindy entering the far turn.

At the top of the lane, Crazy Wow was under serious urging as Hannelore Hanover fanned three-wide off cover and Will Take Charge slipped to the inside with ample trot. Hannelore Hanover finished with plenty of kick in the lane and prevailed by a neck over Will Take Charge in 2:06 for the one-mile and one-eighth in her seasonal debut. A six-year-old Swan For All mare trained by Burke, Hannelore Hanover recorded her 37th victory from 59 lifetime tries and her latest score pushed her lifetime earnings past $2.55 million.

Just before the midway mark of the Rosecroft Raceway, K J Charlie (Jared Moyer) tuned up for his upcoming appearance in the Maryland Sire Stakes eliminations for his age and gait when he overcame a first over bid to score in 1:58.3. A gelded sophomore son of Charlie De Vie trained by Arlene Cameron for owners Scott Woogen and Pamela Wagner, K J Charlie returned from a five-month respite to prevail in his seasonal debut and notch his first victory in 11 lifetime outings.

Then two races later at Rosecroft, Makin Money Fast (Frank Milby) left and was parked to the half in 54 flat before finally finding a seat, angled out of the pocket before three-quarters and surged to command on the far turn and outlasted the late bid of Owen's Spirit (Walter Callahan) to score in 1:54. A sophomore son of Dontloseyourdayjob trained by Jamie Vance for owner Gloria Kinnamon, Makin Money Fast debuted in sharp fashion and looms a contender for the upcoming Maryland Sire Stakes.

Then one race later in a non-winners of $2500 last five starts conditioned event for older pacers, DBs Rosco (Richard Still) settled into third early, angled out first over past the half and brushed to command easily before reaching three-quarters in 1:23.1 then romped home eight lengths clear in 1:52. An eight-year-old Santanna Blue Chip gelding owned and trained by Brittany Bounds, DBs Rosco remained perfect in three starts this year and and perhaps earned a spot in the Open next weekend.

Then two races later in the penultimate race on the card, Major Blue Coat (Still) gained command soon after the outset, rebuffed an early bid from favored Extreme Machine N (Walter Callahan) before the half, maintained a modest lead down the backside and held safe the late inside bid of James Riverside (John Gazzerro) to score in 1:53.3. An eight-year-old Art Major gelding owned and trained by Bounds, Major Blue Coat notched his second straight score and now owns three wins from 11 starts this year while lowering his seasonal mark in the process.