Harness Alive In The Throes Of Social Distancing

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

March 22nd, 2020

Considering the COVID-19 pandemic that has upset the schedules of racing, our reporting deadlines will vary based upon the availability of harness racing. Our addendum post on closings a few days back indicated dates “expected” for a return to racing but now those dates are certainly subject to change.

This blog contains less than usual from our preview blog, due to the cancellation of raceway meets. It also includes, however, the results from our special Cal Expo edition, which we put together when it was confirmed the track would hold race programs on March 21.

Keep checking the TwinSpires blogs for coverage on standardbred and thoroughbred racing available for wagering, and for news, commentary and useful information on handicapping and betting even if few to no racetracks are still in action.

Having been in this business as a fan, a Hervey-winning, widely published journalist, and a player since the 1970s, I will continue to offer experience-based material on the subjects relating to wagering for veterans and novice bettors on the TwinSpires platform.

Keep checking TwinSpires blogs for all racing matters to keep up with what is in play and how best to play it.

Thursday, March 19

We took on the three legs of a Pick 3 at Saratoga to begin what turned out to be an abbreviated harness weekend.

We may have hit the Pick 3 were it not for two scratches in leg two—both our choices. They were Glen Roots and Delightful Trysta.

We won the first leg with Forever Muv ($16.20, $3.00, $2.80). That was a great price considering we figured her to be one of the two top choices. Our other contender, Gingers Bud (8-1) finished fourth in the $4.73 superfecta. With the favorite second, the exacta came back $27.40.

We had the winner, the race favorite, in leg three. That’s Incredible ($2.80, $2.50, $2.10) as a cinch, while our other contender, Sally DeVie (19-1) finished sixth.

The Pick 3 paid $25.88.

What turned out the last night at WoMo until further notice, included our Race 6 feature. We were stuck with the favorite, Kingofthejungle, who led until sinking to seventh in the stretch. We did pick up the second finisher, Sin Cxity Boogie ($5.60, $3.90), while our third element, P L Idaho (4-1) broke early but returned to finish fifth on the purse grid.

Friday, March 20

At Cal Expo we wound up with the favorite in one of two features, winning with Velocity McSweets ($3.20, $2.60, $2.10).

Casey N Grinegan ($7.60, $4.60) finished second to an 11-1 shot in the second feature.

Saturday, March 21

The Cal Expo special blog included all races on the program. The results per our analysis appear in order of the races.

A 20-1 shot woke up in Race 1, while our top choice, Hi Fidelity ($7.80) finished third. Our exotic elements, Velocity Layla (13-1) and favorite Magnifique finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Another third for our choice, Rocket Power ($4.60), and a fifth for the favorite, Hi Ho Julio, fell to an 8-1 shot in Race 3.

Race 3 was a dud for us, with Noisy Nora (4-1) completely silent in the back of the field all the way as the favorite won.

In Race 4 we finished third again, this time with Five Card Draw N ($3.00). The public’s second choice won.

Our outside choice in Race five, Windsun Galaxie (50-1), started well enough, haunting the top three early until he broke and was eliminated. Another favorite won.

We took second to a huge top choice in Race 6 with Bunkerhill Bill ($6.60, $4.00), completing a hearty $1 exacta worth $12.30.

Reys N A Ruckus (31-1) made a huge move early to take the lead in Race seven, only to fade to seventh as the favorite charged late to win.

A 16-1 shot was surprisingly strong in Race eight. We filled out the place and show with Sing Along ($3.40, $2.40) and Place At The Beach ($4.00).

It was a cold $1 exacta finish worth $6.40 for us in Race 9, winning with Sin Machqueen ($5.20, $2.60, $2.40), followed by Herecomesthethundr ($2.40, $2.20).

In Race 10 our top choice, Fox Valley B Gump scratched as the predicted race favorite, Lodi Eat My Dust ($2.60, $2,10, $2.10 ok) won. Our other choice in an attempt at the triple was Custards Dungeon (5-1), who finished sixth.

The crowd’s choice won the 11th race, while our early-lickin’ Fear Factor (6-1) paced out of fuel and finished eighth.

Watch our blogs for more Cal Expo action, which is currently under consideration by the racing board for Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.


The H2W results list across-the-board prices. Also, exactas listed are included when a H2W horse finishes second with a race favorite or the first two finishers making up the exacta are H2W horses (an asterisk appears when both horses were listed to complete a cold exacta). The note “ok” determines that prices published are correct even when a show price exceeds a place price or any or all of the prices are the same. This week, there were 11 active horses (a 1-percent win hit rate and a 27-percent ATB [across-the-board] hit rate).

Please note that some H2W results reflect win, place, show and exotic results occurring by press time but some horses race after the blog is posted (we list them the following weeks) It is up to you to follow horses that have not performed before this weekly review.


  • More More More, $11.60, $3.50, $2.50, Saratoga


  • XXX


  • Classica, $4.90, WoMo
  • True To Mach, $3.20, Miami
News & Notes

The COVID-19 mitigation continues, affecting our business deeply.

Tioga and Vernon reports that their stable areas will not be accepting horses on April 1, as previously scheduled. Jason Settlemoir, VP of Racing for both tracks, said it is “uncertain when our properties will be able to reopen as a whole. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates of when live racing will begin at each property … the safety of our guests, employees, and horsemen remain our top priorities.”

The day before our preview blog’s wagering menu, officials at Pompano announced that once the track completed its Wednesday, March 18 program, racing would cease until further notice (UFN). Pompano concluded the statement before the last evening’s racing and officials said it would update information when available.

Saratoga offered live racing Thursday, March 19 (see features above) but the track announced the cancellation of race card for March 21.

Buffalo suspended racing this last week as New York State authorities called for quarantine regulations UFN.Ohio, currently represented by Northfield and Miami Valley, held sway to race until late afternoon on March 20th.

Harness racing in France has been put on hold until April 15 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jean-Pierre Barjon, president of Le Trot, made the decision. Harness racing has also been suspended in Italy, Germany, Belgium, Austria, The Netherlands, Finland, Norway, Schweiz, and Denmark. However, as of this writing, racing continues in Sweden, but without the public in attendance.

Extraordinary Extras

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