Harness Racing’s Autumn Almanac Launches With Bluegrass Barrage; Dayton Derbies Match Major Money-Makers

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

September 29th, 2016

Autumn seemed to take over the atmosphere last week as if on cue with cooling skies and leaves poised to turn colors and glide to the ground. In harness racing, the autumn landscape lines a path to The Red Mile as the Grand Circuit rolls into Lexington, Kentucky for two weeks of stakes with most of the racing stars. It’s the last exit before the Breeders Crown in late October.

Bluegrass Stakes take center stage the first week and we are covering them on this blog and on our Breeders Crown Countdown blog.

And the beat goes on at all other North America harness raceways, with the TwinSpires horses-to-watch list (H2W) highlighting harness contenders that are great for all types of wagers. Remember: No other handicappers cover this much activity and few can brag as much about profiting from choices. You won’t find our best winners on any on-line or hard copy sources. Take these horses seriously when constructing your wagers.


The $160,000 Dayton Trotting Derby is the first of two major events at Dayton Raceway on Sept. 30. Nine of the top older trotters of the season go Buckeye before they head for Kentucky and on to the Meadowlands.

The Midwest’s favorite Homicide Hunter gets post 9 for this adventure, facing genuine and familiar foes, including Shake It Cerry, who gets a post break and leaves from the 3 hole. “Cerry,” who has not taken to aging, is the morning-line (ML) favorite and will most likely try to take this wire to wire. “Homicide” will be on the chase and perhaps Maestro Blue Chip will put in a speed bid. All of this makes the scenario usually benefiting Obrigado. Of course he could easily get more support than his 9-2 ML but we can accept a lower price than usual from him.

There are only seven aged horses in the $150,000 Dayton Pacing Derby, an event that looks like a race we have been watching over and over again all season. This time, Always B Miki gets the inside (post 2) and Wiggle It Jiggleit is farther out (post 5). If you are more excited by the rivalry than the chance to make a profit on this then you should watch the race or take a shot on Shambala. The Zerons’ stalwart is in a similar position as in the U.S. Pacing Championship. In August’s battle at the Meadowlands he let the top two burn the fractions while stalking and then took his best steps as they began to tire. His ML is 8-1 and if he is anywhere near that, allow yourself to be more interested in the betting than the rivalry.


The Red Mile’s first Grand Circuit weekend continues Friday Sept. 30 with Bluegrass Stakes for frosh-filly trotters. The first is a six-girl field worth $59,200. Direct from last week’s Kentuckian Stallion Stakes at Hoosier, we once again back Amuse’s. An outside contender along with the rest of the field against the division’s top gal, Ariana G, Amuse’s lost her gait early and finished ninth. Oddly enough, she defeated the odds-on Ariana G, who also galloped at the start and finished 10th. Along with Evelyn, the sharp Muscle Hill gal, Amuse’s could take top honors.

The second $59,200 Bluegrass split may offer some value in the most inexperienced of the sextet. Grandma’s Moni has raced only twice and won once, while the others have already gone six to nine races and two of them have yet to escape maiden status. She’ll have to beat Blacksirenpedia, a 1-post, two-for-six winning (with two places) and Future Secured, the other Cantab Hall product.

Bluegrass three (also $59,200 with a field of six) also has a top filly by Cantab Hall, this one also blessed by her dam, champion Buck I St Pat—Can’t I. On the outside, is Hillarmbro, a Muscle Hill filly that may be ignored by the public. She is one of trainer Trond Smedhshammer’s young fillies (he is driving, also) and she has earned her way to take on tougher with a three-win-for-five-start record so far.

A field of seven goes in the penultimate Bluegrass Stakes for the green division, this one worth $60,200. Heels On Wheels was third in a sires-stakes final at Yonkers last week, going off at 16-1) and has not been off the board in nine starts. A good price could be in store considering the competition. Certainly, Broadway Idole and Treviso have the kind of class the masses adore enough to bet heavily.

The nightcap and last of the program’s Bluegrass affairs brings seven to the gate for $60,200. Six-digit earner Fine Tuned Lady (yet another product of fantastic frosh sire Cantab Hall) is bound to top the wagering and though tough to bet against, Jim Cambell’s Donato Fashion has been productive and an upset would not surprise us, though it may escape the attention of the public and offer a good price.


Saturday, Oct. 1, frosh pacers of both sexes make up the Bluegrass fields at the Red Mile. The fillies start the march with the early program’s races from $73,000 up.

The opening filly pace offers six betting interests and features the superior Idyllic Beach. There is only one chance going against her, all things being equal, and that is with Big City Betty, who has two wins in only four starts for trainer Howard Parker (yes, the same veteran driver). She could improve among better stock for an upset but also makes for a good exotic partner with the top choice.

Another six go in the second filly Bluegrass, which is a competitive sextet. The public may look at earnings to choose a favorite, giving Loreenas Ruffian a big shot from post 1 but we like the opposite in earnings, Noel Daley’s Jenny’s Terror. She two wins for five starts and has every reason to enjoy winning at this level.

Seven gals go in the next split, including our top-winner-to-date, That’s The Ticket. She scored for us to pay $119 in Canada,, her only win in eight starts. Tony Alagna’s Awash has made almost a hundred thousand so far with one in eight, so we will stick with “Ticket” again, even for much less a price.

The final frosh-filly pacer stakes presents seven more hoping for a prosperous October. It’s an even field and any one of these could show a love for the clay mile. Players may bet drivers here and that would be good for us because Andy McCarthy is bound not to be one of the top wagered upon and his Caviart Ally is a major contender. We expect a good price and a very good mile.

There are five colt-pacer Bluegrasses worth $66,000 and up. In the first, which is Race 6, six go up against Ray Schnittker’s Huntsville, a green colt by Somebeachsomewhere that has banked over $200,000 in only six starts. Racing three more times, Feat The Dragon has also earned as much. The speed marks of this group are stunning and scary (save some speed for being a sophomore, why don’t they?). Those two should get all the dough and that could give Jimmy Takter’s Ocean Colony tasty odds. This guy is getting better and is also by Somebeachsomewhere.

Seven more hungry green boys are next and each has an argument to win. Odds On Delray should get major attention, so we will go with a youngster we succeeded with early in the frosh season, McGold. The price should be right for his chances in this group.

Some trainers with brand names are bound to attract bettors in this fray, so it is the public could turn away from the Jessica Okusko-trained Manattack. This guy has been productive in seven of his nine races and is well placed here to improve as he nears three.

The next seven boys go against Downbytheseaside and his six-digit earnings from never being off the board in eight starts (four wins). Mac’s Jackpot should be the second choice in this field with five Somebeachsomewhere products—one other than Downbytheseaside that deserves attention. The Wall would be on the H2W list for the second time had he not drawn into this. We like Takter’s colt and urge supporting an upset here with him.

Roll With Joe colt Miso Fast stars in the nightcap Bluegrass. The likely second choice, McThriller, could come out with a good price and certainly needs to be included in exotics. 


The $100,000 Ellamony stakes takes place on the Flamboro Downs program on Oct. 1. Nine mare pacers from the fragrant division pursue the season’s biggest purses en route to the “Crown.”

Solar Sister is the ML favorite and Waasmula, who has failed as a favorite and rebounded at a big price, should get the second bill. Bedroomconfessions, disappointing in her last, takes the third-choice spot and Yagonnakissmeornot spreads the win pool even thinner.

Sandbetweenurtoes has raced better than her odds recently and because she may be discounted here we will gladly take her at a price, perhaps the best price of the lot.

H2W Legend

Review our choices and follow the wagering at the prescribed track. These are possible contenders we have judged from reviewing races. The horses’ names are listed beneath the name of the track after the date they will be racing. The race in which they are entered (R and race number) follows. If a + is in front of a horse’s name it means it is appearing on the list for the second (and last) time because it failed to win the first time it appeared. An “ae” signals the horse is entered on the also-eligible list. If a horse is listed twice, refer to the entries on the night of the race since a horse may enter in more than one race. Types of wagering on any of the H2W listed horses are based on your judgment. If you have any questions, email us at TwinSpires.


10/1/16, +Zapped R6

9/29/16, Caliban Hanover R6; Jetta Flys R9; +Red Magician R10

9/30/16, +Sectionline Aqua R12

9/30/16, +Inukchuk Chuck R3
10/1/16, +Every Way Out R3; Bruisin N Cruisin R4; +Captain Primeau R6; Brick Bazooka R9; Camcracker Dynasty R12

9/29/16, Manofmanyimages R8
9/30/16, +Classic Venture R6
10/1/16, Lyonssomewhere R8

10/3/16, +Kerfuffle Cookie R6

9/29/16, +Market Share R11
9/30/16, +Shes Heavenly R6

9/30/16, Kings Treasure R1

10/1/16, +Don Dorado R6; +Mel Mara R10
10/3/16, +Ophelia R3

Red Mile
9/29/16, +Moonshiner Hanover R5; +Honest Gambler R9

9/29/16, +Grace And Claire R1; +Wicked Speed R8

10/1/16, Upfront Countryboy R8; +Titus Seelster R12
10/2/16, +Scottish Blue R2

9/29/16, +Tonight We Rock R7; Sammy Said R8; +Simple Saver N R9

9/30/16, Cracker Coffee R8

Ray Cotolo contributes to this blog