Harness action spans day and night on Saturday

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Ted Black

May 2nd, 2019

While millions of thoroughbred racing fans across the country will be focused on the latest renewal of the Grade I, $3 million Kentucky Derby on Saturday evening, harness racing enthusiasts will get their fill of stakes action beginning in the afternoon and lasting well into the night.

Freehold Raceway will actually kick off the stakes action when the New Jersey half-mile oval hosts the $66,000 Lady Suffolk for three-year-old filly trotters and immediately followed by the $120,000 Dexter Cup for three-year-old trotting colts, the first early prep for the Grade I, $1.5 million Hambletonian and subsequent major stakes. Last year's Dexter Cup winner, Lindy's Big Bang, will be competing in the weekly overnight feature for trotters at Rosecroft that evening.

Speaking of Rosecroft, the Maryland five-eighths mile oval will host a busy afternoon at evening of races. The non-betting portion of the card will get under way at 4:30 with a half-dozen Maryland Sire Stakes elims for three-year-olds of both gaits and genders then the betting portion of the program will begin with a pair of MDSS elims for sophomores. All four $70,000 MDSS finals for three-year-olds will be contested on closing night "Sophomore Showdown" card, May 18, when titles for humans and horses alike will be awarded.

Also on the betting portion of the card will be a dozen overnight events, including the Open for pacers where McKenry seeks his fourth straight score over the oval and Lindy's Big Bang (Richard Still) returns for the weekly featured trot.

That same evening at the Meadowlands the focus will turn to trotters and pacers competing at one-mile and one-eighth. The New Jersey miler will host two, $50,000 Graduate divisions for four-year-old pacers as well as the $175,000 Cutler Memorial for older trotters. Pinkman, a past Hambo hero, Top Flight Angel and Will Take Charge will vie for top honors in this nine-furlong affair.

That same evening Yonkers Raceway will host the $44,000 Open Handicap for trotters and the $44,000 Open Handicap for pacers, featuring Somewhere In L A (Jason Bartlett), Ideal Jimmy (Brent Holland) and Major Crocker A, all of which performed well in the George Morton Levy Memorial series for Free-For-All pacers. Ideal Jimmy won three legs then was fourth in the final from post eight, while Somewhere In L A won the $100,000 consolation in 1:51.2.

Levy hero Western Fame (Simon Allard) will head to Pocono Downs on Saturday night for the $50,000 Van Rose Memorial Invitational where he will face Highalator (Still), hero of the $30,000 Golden Receiver Open last week at the Meadowlands, and The Wall, who won two Levy legs. Pompano Park will offer a solid card that includes an $11,000 Open II for pacing boys, one for pacing mares and another for trotters. The track will also have a $9,000 Open III for pacing boys and another for pacing mares.