Harness Preview for 9/8/2014

Profile Picture: Ted Black

Ted Black

September 8th, 2014

While many standardbred enthusiasts generally find it difficult to get excited about any Monday cards at the various harness racing tracks that offer live racing on that night, the Monday cards this week and next at Harrington Raceway will give onlookers plenty of excitement.

Monday evening Harrington will host a pair of $20,000 eliminations for the Robert Quillen Memorial, with the top four finishers in each elim returning for next Monday's $200,000 final. With the exception of Sweet Lou, who was not nominated to this race, the Quillen includes most of the top older pacers in the land. While the elims figure to be competitive, next week's final could be an early glimpse at the Breeders Crown this fall.

In the first of the two Quillen elims, trainer Ron Burke appears to be holding the upper hand and he could have a pair of aces returning for the final.

Foiled Again (Yannick Gingras), the sport's all-time winningest pacer with $6.5 million banked on the strength of 80 wins and 85 additional top three finishers, should go postward as the even-money choice despite his outside draw. The durable, 10-year-old gelding is in the midst of a prolonged drought, but he was recently second in the $625,000 Canadian Pacing Derby final and he has rarely delivered a dull effort anywhere on any sized oval.

Burke's other entrant in the first elim is Easy Again (Matt Kakaley) who has won eight of 19 starts this year and arrives with a three-race win streak. Easy Again had performed well in the tough George Morton Levy Memorial series at Yonkers in the spring, but settled for second in the Levy consolation. He seems likely to earn a spot in the Quillen final next week.

Looking to topple the Burke tandem are I Like Dreamin (Pat Lachance), Tarpon Hanover (Brett Miller) and Doctor Butch (Tim Tetrick). All three arrive in good form, but having faced much lesser. I Like Dreamin has won his last two starts at Pocono Downs, while Doctor Butch has won two straight at Yonkers for trainer Linda Toscano. Tarpon Hanover was second last out after winning two starts back at Tioga Downs, but he will probably not return for the final.

Then two races later in the second Quillen elim, the Burke brigade arrives with three of the six combatants. But it is quite possible that none of the uncoupled trio will occupy the favorite's role at post time.

Dancin Yankee (Tyler Buter) may not boast the highest earnings in the field, but he has the most wins this year and lifetime, sports the fastest mark and owns the most impressive recent victory and he also has the coveted rail. That combination is likely to earn him the favorite's role.

Dancin Yankee has won 16 of 24 starts this year and nearly $500,000, but his victory two starts back in the $260,000 Joe Gerrity, Jr. Memorial at Saratoga rates as the best performance by any horse in the field over a half-mile track. Dancin Yankee led throughout to capture the Gerrity in an eye-opening 1:48.4, his ninth win in his last 10 starts. He can be expected to take no prisoners from the outset this evening.

Heading the Burke trio is Clear Vision (Brett Miller), the defending champion of this event who outfought his wealthy, illustrious stablemate, Foiled Again, to win last year's edition of the Quillen. Clear Vision was third last out in the Canadian Pacing Derby final after winning his elim and two months earlier he overcame a first over trip to capture the $150,000 Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield Park in gritty fashion.

Bettor's Edge (Kakaley) has lost eight straight since defeating conditioned foes at Mohawk in June, but he has wicked early speed evidenced by a streak of four straight sub-26 second openers at one stretch. Bettor's Edge will look to use his early speed to either gain command or simply soften up Dancin Yankee, which would enable Clear Vision to benefit from his strong late kick.

The other three pacers in the second Quillen elim include Heston Blue Chip (Tetrick), a multiple stakes winner for Toscano, Aracache Hanover (Gingras) for Burke and Statesman N (Corey Callahan) who drew post six for trainer Jake Huff and appears doubtful to earn a spot in next week's final against this group.

Two races before the first Quillen elim, Versado (Gingras) is certain to be the odds-on favorite in the $13,000 Open II despite drawing post six in a field of that size. The seven-year-old Dragon Again gelding trained by Nick Surick has only won twice in 26 starts this year, but he has faced much tougher at Yonkers Raceway, Harrah's Philadelphia and Pocono Downs and he was among the nominees for the Quillen.

While Versado might arrive as the odds-on choice for the Open II, a much softer spot than either Quillen elim, he does appear to be vulnerable. Last Shot Leeton has won his last two starts over the oval, while People Are Crazy raced well in defeat last week, as did Ahdoughnolum. All three pacers also figure to be generous prices due to the presence of Versado, who has not raced well in his last three outings and bypassed the Quillen.