Harness racing preview: The Kentucky Futurity

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

October 9th, 2020

Harness racing has a few focal points each year, and this strange 2020 season is no different. The classic Kentucky Futurity races at The Red Mile take place Sunday, Oct. 11.

The 128th Kentucky Futurity for 3-year-old trotters and the companion 55th Kentucky Filly Futurity for filly trotters each drew a field of 12.

The Hambletonian winner, the filly Ramona Hill, will race with her own division this time around, so the main edition is all males. Harness bettors will know each one from many stakes events, even though only three were contestants in the Hambletonian final.

Here is our Kentucky Futurity evaluation for each contender in post position order.

Amigo Volo

One of the Hambo trio, he was a 2-year-old champ who has found racing at 3 put him in a tougher group.

He began to do better in post-Hambo events against lesser types. He is a beaten Bluegrass favorite, when he lost to his superior, Back Of The Neck.

King Alphonso

With a single win on the season, he has not been backed well in 10 races, and for good reason. A fortunate trip and some problems with better horses are all he can hope for.

EL Ideal

Against late bloomers this season, he finished on the board six of seven times against many involved here, including Amigo Volo and Gangster Hanover.

He needs big-time racing luck to wind up ahead of the rest.

Back Of The Neck

This is Ake Svanstedt’s best of the seven — you read correctly — he has in this field.

Third in the Hambo final and right behind Ramona Hill in the elim, he is the major threat, though he may not be the public’s top choice.

Third Shift

Svanstedt raced this guy lightly, and when he did not make it into the Hambo final, his race lines displayed signs of problems — illness and a poor gait. It is hard to argue he has a shot.

Gangster Hanover

Though still a notch or two below Ready For Moni, Gangster Hanover could put in a strong mile and shake the toteboard, unless the field is blown away by “Moni” speed.

Chestnut Hill

If you made him a contender in the Canadian Trot Derby, you were one of a few who collected at 60-1. That was, however, an opportunistic win, because of wide positioning by closers in the stretch, while he saved enough ground to step lively late.

Jula Trix Treasure

Svanstedt saw this guy wake up in the Simcoe, then had trouble with outside posts, as Gangster Hanover beat him by a smudge in the Bluegrass.

He has lost twice to Ready For Moni, both times handily, and needs a good (not great) trip to be in the mix at the wire.

Patriarch Hanover

This is not one of Ron Burke’s best, but the colt is all he is willing to donate to the division’s mighty event.

Amigo Volo seems to have this one’s number, anyway, so we do not buy any argument for a victory.


Per Engblom’s colt was on a streak against Kentucky-breds, but when the Grand Circuit crew came in, he jumped badly in a Bluegrass heat against these types.

He has to negotiate the outside post and not burn out against classier speed. Those aspects alone are reason enough not to expect an upset.

Ready For Moni

One more reason Chestnut Hill was 60-1 and found a late path to victory was the bad break by Nancy Takter’s sterling colt in the Canadian Trot Derby.

He has the perfect style to catch the kinds of dueling and shuffling this race could produce, and could only have Back Of The Neck to deal with late.

Maybe the post ups his odds a bit? Watch the late betting as closely as possible.

Coventry Hall

Why Svanstedt entered this horse is anyone’s guess. The gelding has not reacted well against talent like he'll face here.

The earth will shake if he suddenly turns into a raging, monstrous trotter on this occasion.