Hoosier, Yonkers and Northfield offer solid cards

Profile Picture: Ted Black

Ted Black

August 12th, 2018

One weekend after harness racing enthusiasts were perhaps overwhelmed with the stakes action at The Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day, they turned their attention to Hoosier Park, Northfield Park and Yonkers Raceway this past weekend.

On Friday night the focus was clearly on Hoosier Park as the seven-eighths oval in Indiana hosted the latest edition of the $325,000 Dan Patch Invitational for the best older pacers in the land and the best from down under.

In his United States debut and his first outing for new trainer Jimmy Takter, Lazarus N (Yannick Gingras) was made the 1-2 favorite from post nine in the field of nine against a stellar group that included McWicked, Split The House, Bit Of A Legend N and several Ron Burke trainees, including Rockin Ron and All Bets Off.

Soon after the gate folded in the Dan Patch Invitational, named for arguably the best pacer in the history of the sport and certainly its most marketable, Bit Of A Legend N left well to secure good early position and he yielded to Lazarus who led the way by the opener in 26.2. Lazarus N then got a breather by the half in 54.2, met token pressure from Split The House through the far turn then held that one at bay for a length victory in 1:48.4 while McWicked overcame dull cover to rally belatedly for the show.

A six-year-old Bettor's Delight stallion now trained by Takter, Lazarus N recorded his first win in as many starts stateside, owns three wins from six starts overall this year and 36 wins in 46 lifetime outings with earnings of $2.8 million. Split The House was very game in defeat after a long first over bid and McWicked closed well for third, while Bit Of A Legend N, a genuine half-mile specialist, settled for fourth over the bigger oval.

Lazarus will be on the short list of pacers getting invites to a number of tracks who would thrive on seeing the "Down Under Wonder" and Takter could send him to Harrington Raceway for the $150,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial on September 17, where he would likely face defending champion Bit Of A Legend N. McWicked, who thrives on the bigger tracks, seems likely to pass on the Quillen, but he and Lazarus could both generate invites to the $100,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway on December 2.

Then on Saturday evening at Yonkers Raceway, a bevy of horses that could earn invites to the Quillen were on hand for the Open Handicap, Preferred and a trio of non-winners of $30,000 last five starts conditioned events all of which were contested over a rain-soaked 'sloppy' track.

Just prior to the midway point of the card in the first of the three-way split non-winners of $30,000 last five starts class for older pacers, Dream Out Loud (Brent Holland) left to secure good early position, yielded to Provocativeprince N (Austin Siegelman), sat a loose pocket to the half and three-quarters, angled out top stretch and got up for a neck score in 1:52.2. The 11-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding notched his second straight score and owns a 5-3-7 slate and $96,000 banked from 25 seasonal outings and stayed eligible to the class next week.

One race later on the card in the $44,000 Open Handicap for older pacers, Great Vintage (Mark MacDonald) gained command before reaching the opener in 27.1, got a breather to the half in 56.4, met serious pressure from Mcerlean (Holland) down the backside and through the far turn and just outlasted that one's gritty effort to score by a head in 1:52.2. It was the fifth win in 13 starts this year for the Takter trainee and the 45th career score for the 10-year-old American Ideal stallion with nearly $1.27 million banked along the way.

One race later in the $35,000 4YO Open, Scotch McEwan (MacDonald) gained command past a swift 26.2 opener, got a breather to the half in 55.4, met serious pressure from even-money choice Mac's Jackpot (Jim Marohn, Jr.) by three-quarters in 1:24.2 then just outlasted that one in the lane for a neck score in 1:52.4. A four-year-old McArdle gelding trained by Lance Hudson, Scotch McEwan has won three of his last six starts over the strip and sports five wins and $75,000 banked from 14 starts this year.

One race later in the $35,000 Preferred,Theartofconfusion (MacDonald) raced second over past the half, circled dull cover early backside to press favored Caviart Luca (George Brennan) down the backside and through the far turn and edged clear in the lane to edge the leader and pocket-sitting Scott Rocks (Eric Goodell) to score in 1:53.1. It was the sixth win in 23 starts for the eight-year-old Riverboat King gelding owned and trained by Gilberto Garcia-Herrera and provided driver Mark MacDonald with a natural 'hat trick' on the card.

Two races later in the penultimate race on the card in another non-winners of $30,000 last five starts class, Techtor Hanover (Daniel Dube) gained command from the coveted rail in a 27.2 opener, got a breather by the half in 56.4, met token pressure from 3-5 choice Voracity (Brennan) by three-quarters in 1:24.3 then just outlasted the late inside bid of Lachie Maguire N (Joe Bongiorno) to score by a nose in 1:52.2. It was his second win in his last three starts and pushed his seasonal earnings over the $100,000 plateau in 23 outings.

Then one race later in the finale in another non-winners of $30,000 last five starts class, American Boy N (Holland) gained command soon after the start and rebuffed an early bid from Somewhere In L A (Jason Bartlett) before the opener in 26.4, got a breather by the half in 56.1, met another challenge from Somewhere In L A by three-quarters and through the far turn and just outlasted that one for a neck score in 1:51.2 as the 2-1 second choice.

A seven-year-old American Ideal gelding trained by Darran Cassar, American Boy N notched his second straight score and now owns five wins and $95,000 banked from 18 seasonal outings. Somewhere In L A was game in defeat while seeing his two-race streak come to a halt. He was used hard at two different points in the mile and still finished well to just miss although he will likely vault into the Preferred next week despite the setback. Stormont Czar A was a modest third, a length better than The Real One.

That same evening at Northfield Park near Cleveland, Southwind Amazon (Ron Wrenn, Jr.) overcame post seven to gain command in a 27.1 opener, got a breather to the half in 55.4, raced unpressed down the backside and by three-quarters in 1:22.3 then just outlasted the late bid of pocket-sitting Vague Traces (Aaron Merriman) to score by a neck in 1:49.3 in the $19,000 Open Handicap. It was the 14th win in 23 starts this year for Southwind Amazon who won 17 of 41 outings a year ago.

Then two races later in the $50,000 Myron Charna President's Race for older pacers, Dancin Yankee (Chris Page) lived up to his billing as the 1-5 favorite when he left to gain command, yielded to 15-1 Cams Valentino before the opener in 26.3, retook before the half in 55.1, met serious pressure down the backside from Major Nemesis, shook loose from that one on the far turn and drew clear to a three-length score in 1:49.2 for his third straight score in this event.

A 10-year-old Yankee Cruiser gelding trained by Ron Burke, Dancin Yankee has won four straight races and now sports nine wins and nearly $143,000 banked from 18 seasonal outings. Once among the best aged pacers in the land, Dancin Yankee has won nearly 70 races and earned nearly $1.8 million in his career. He seems an unlikely candidate for the Quillen next month - a race that proved his undoing four years ago - but he will likely have the Charna circled on the calendar next summer.

Then one race later in the main event of the weekend, the $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial for three-year-old colt pacers, Thinkbig Dreambig (Jordan Stratton) benefited from a pocket trip behind 2-1 second choice Jimmy Freight and two miscues from 4-5 favorite Lather Up and sat a garden journey through honest fractions of 27.4, 55.3 and 1:22.3 through the first three calls, angled out at the head of the lane and wore down Jimmy Freight to score in 1:50.

A sophomore son of Bettor's Delight trained by Takter, Thinkbig Dreambig had been unlucky in the $700,000 Meadowlands Pace and $400,000 Adios Pace finals. But Saturday night at Northfield Park he benefited from an ideal trip and notched his fifth win in 10 starts this year and nearly tripled his career earnings to $325,000. Jimmy Frieght was game in defeat, while longshots Minnie Vinnie (Merriman) and Slick Tony (Russell Foster) finished third and fourth, respectively, with ground saving journeys in the back half.