‘Jug’ Win A Perfect Forecast With Courtly Choice; Ohio Fair Topped With $48 Winner; Best NYSS-Champ Offered Pays $42
The Little Brown Jug was an exclusive success for TwinSpires harness bettors as we backed, with strong conviction, the best glamour-boy pacer of this season—Courtly Choice. The report is below, along with the numerous successes and failures during an extended week of high-profile races as featured and as listed.
The second and third days of this year’s Delaware, Ohio Fair that led to the Little Brown Jug (LBJ) included some spot plays that appeared in a special mid-week harness blog. The success of those days resulting in cashable tickets appear in the horses-to-watch list (H2W) rundown below.
Here’s how our featured events played out:
BREEDERS CROWN COUNTDOWN
On Wednesday, Sept. 12, the “Countdown” handled two of the LBJ-week’s big stakes, each with “Crown” eligible fillies on steady paths to October’s championship series.
The Buckette for soph-filly trotters was over quickly for us, as our main contender, Follow Streak (3-1) surrendered an important contest from the start as she skipped and broke so badly she was eliminated from the entire event. For a short time in the stretch it appeared our other choice in the race would win, but Kenziesky Hanover ($7.00, $5.60), a non-Crown eligible, was defeated late by the public’s third choice. Kenziesky Hanover’s bold performance was probably not enough for a supplement investment to drop into the box for the Crown elims.
The program’s main event was the LBJ filly version, The Jugette, for soph-filly pacers. We were correct advising bettors to stay away from Youaremycandygirl. She took a bad step off the gate and galloped her way to the finish line. Oddly enough, she was not the public’s top choice; that status belonged to Alexa’s Power, who served her backers well with a win. Meanwhile, our upset choice, Sansovina Hanover (37-1), could not sustain an outside trip, which looked promising at the half and finished fifth.
Thursday, Sept. 13
While we took a different perspective covering our 25th-straight LBJ, due to the competitive prospects we suspected would make the final more valuable to bettors than the elim heats, the pundits held steady with their choice, Lather Up. We agreed that Lather Up was the best in his elim but our target from the onset was Courtly Choice.
Courtly Choice was not staked to the Little Brown Jug, but entered with a $45,000 supplemental payment (the option is only offered to Jug-ineligible sophomores that have won either the Cane Pace, Meadowlands Pace, Messenger or North America Cup). We did not use that element for his appearance as any motivation to win the Jug because we were already convinced Courtly Choice had undeniably proven he is the best of the division.
In the first elim, we agreed with everyone that Lather Up ($2.20, $2.20, $2.10) would easily devour the soft field, which he did in a sub-1:50 mile.
We forecasted the second elim as a Courtly Choice victory that would lead to winning the final. The event was unorthodox for the fair meet but it further proved Courtly Choice is the best of them all, no less those in the stronger elim heat field. Courtly Choice skipped at the start from post 1 and had to race from behind the entire field, giving up 7 lengths. “Courtly” regained his gait at the back of the pace and by three-quarters he was charging three wide, almost 2 lengths behind the leader, Stay Hungry.
Stay Hungry got to the top with sloppy measures. He slighted Hayden Hanover to get on the engine and coming around the last turn he paced over three pylons. Courtly fought gamely for second beside Dorsoduro Hanover and got third off of his resurgent trip. The judges disqualified Stay Hungry for his behavior (he was placed fourth) while “Dorsoduro” was placed first and Courtly placed second.
Drawing the 8 hole for the final, Stay Hungry was scratched (perhaps the post was not the only reason for drawing him from the field) and the crowd emptied their pockets for Lather Up, who chose to leave from post 2 in the final. Dorsoduro took post 1 and Courtly was assigned post 4. Before knowing Stay Hungry would be DQed and scratched, those were the three colts we predicted would be the main foes and favorites in the final.
We would not budge from backing Courtly Choice. His loss in the elim was simply more proof he was tons the division’s best (it was easy to imagine his great length of victory had he not broke in the elim). We were not in agreement with those who made Lather Up an overwhelming favorite (which we also predicted). We merely lost a few cents from the 2-1 we hoped for as Courtly went off at 8-5.
The LBJ winner—after a trip almost as bad as his elim mile and more strenuous than most horses could ever sustain in the second mile of a single day—was Courtly Choice ($5.40, $3.40, $2.40), placing another feather in the handicapping cap of the TwinSpires harness blog.
In the sub-featured Old Oaken Bucket for soph-colt trotters, we warned bettors that Im Your Captain was part of Julie and Andy Miller’s powerhouse stable and could easily take this race. However, he was a dead-on favorite and he won, beating our value contender Maxus ($2.80), who settled for third.
Friday, Sept. 21
At Hoosier, in the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby, one of five stakes that adorned the program, we were and still are soft on Lazarus N, though he managed to defeat our contender, McWicked ($3.40, $2.80) and our exotic candidate Fillibuster Hanover (22-1). What happens to this division now? See our News & Notes below for a clue and an opinion.
We went along with Manchego ($2.20, $2.10, $2.10) in a race against her own division because she was too darned easy a choice as a key horse.
In the big-field Trotting Classic for the elders, we were as correct as the majority, though we did not forecast having our choice the favorite, as Marion Marauder ($5.60, $3.80, $2.80) won.
The favorite beat us in the Elevation and we finished fourth with Actor Hanover (34-1) and the second choice won the Jennas Beach Boy as our disappointment bottomed on Macadoodledoo (58-1).
Saturday, Sept. 15
The lucrative New York Sires Stakes finals were the features at Yonkers with events for all eight two- and three-year-old divisions. In race programming order:
We finished eighth in the frosh-filly trot with Safe Word (8-1)—the favorite won.
In the frosh-colt trot our choice, Chapter Fashion (16-1), broke and finished sixth—the favorite won.
We won the frosh-colt pace with Reigning Deo ($42.20, $7.60, n/s/).
In the frosh-filly pace we wound up the favorite with St Somewhere, who broke at three-quarters and walked home in seventh—the second favorite won.
The soph-filly trot produced another breaker for us when Lucky Ava (9-1) began to run right off the gate and finished sixth—the favorite won.
The public choice won the soph-filly pace while we finished sixth with Jewels Forreal (23-1).
The obvious favorite won the soph-colt trot and our contender, Don (80-1) picked up the fifth check.
The nightcap championship race was won by the public’s third choice as the first and second choices scrambled to a halt at the beginning. One of those was our choice, Ghost Dance (3-2), who was in such distress from the incident he did not finish.
At Mohawk we finished fourth to the public choice in the Shes A Great Lady Final with Queen Of The Pride (6-1). Ella Christina (58-1) was unable to close in the Milton Final, finishing mid-pack; it was won by the public choice.
The total shocker of the Mohawk evening was the terrible performance from Captain Ahab in the Metro Pace Final. He lost to the second choice, his only obvious foe, Stag Party, but he was barely a shadow of the youngster that was dominating the division until this week. He was a huge favorite finishing eighth of the eight. We will report on any health issues if we hear they were at work in the form-reversal mile. Our exotic-partner candidate, De Los Cielos Deo (5-1), finished seventh.
The Hawthorne Illinois harness championships evening program was the last Saturday of the current meet. Here are the results of our contenders in the feature events in race programming order:
We were second in the Incredible Finale with Maximus ($3.40, $2.40), teaming with the favorite for an exacta worth $8.40.
Another public choice took the Incredible Tillie while Brienne The Beauty (30-1) finished miserably in ninth.
We scored with the winner of the Kadabra, trotting-colt Trixie’s Turbo ($8.20, $5.00, $3.80).
At 9-2, Encantado, our filly in the Fox Valley Flan, broke while on the move in the stretch, finishing seventh but placed ninth by the judges for interference—the favorite won the event.
The B. Dygert found us third with Maui Mama ($2.40) and the public favorite won.
One of our favorites to win, though never paying much, wins the Robert Carey. It’s Fox Valley Gemini ($2.60, $2.20, $2.10).
In the Plum Peachy we contributed to the $30.60 exacta with the favorite when JB’s Shooting Star ($5.20, $4.20) finished second.
In the nightcap, the E. Dygert, the second choice won and we were third with Illinimight ($2.60).
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H2W LIST RESULTS
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 47 active horses (a 19-percent win hit rate and a 49-percent ATB [in the money] 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 week) It is up to you to follow horses that have not performed before this weekly review
Jim Tom, $48.20, $8.00, $4.20, Jug Meet
Optimist Blue Chip, $35.60, $10.00, $9.60, Dayton
Nixie Volo, $16.60, $7.40, $4.00, Red Mile
Precious Twilight, $14.80, $5.80, $5.00, Northville
Make Three Wishes, $7.20, $2.80, $2.20, Jug Meet
Yes Mickey, $5.20, $3.40, $2.80, Yonkers
Dancin Dragon, $4.60, $4.00, $2.10, Jug Meet
Long Train Runnin, $4.40, $3.40, $2.40, Jug Meet
Odysseus, $2.70, $2.50, $2.10, Batavia
Guccios Big Star, $8.00, $3.60, Hoosier
Odds On Ohio, $2.40, $2.10 (Exacta $4.20), Jug Meet
One Last Night, $2.40, $2.20, Jug Meet
Tactical Landing, $2.40, $2.40 ok, Red Mile
Qing Quong Bluechip, $6.10, Saratoga
Winning, $4.20, Monticello
Lunetta, $4.00, Jug Meet
Aleppo Hanover, $3.20, Meadows
Bazaar Bazaar, $3.10, Saratoga
Grand Teton, $2.80, Red Mile
Loves Angel, $2.80, Saratoga
Bugger Jerry, $2.40, Batavia
Honor And Serve, $2.40, Philly
SS Tys Aflyin, $2.40, Northville
News & Notes
Our exclusive choices for this year’s Delaware, Ohio Fair meet produced seven choices in the money out of 11 on Sept. 17 and Sept. 18. They are all listed above in the H2W recount. Breaking the total investment down, however, is the news, as we delivered the race meet’s anomaly winner, Jim Tom, paying $48.20 to win. This price is a record high for a win price from our “Jug”-week picking over 28 years at print and Internet sources.
You can be sure that Stay Hungry’s failure to win the pacing triple crown [sic] has already been forgiven, no less forgotten, by fans. Aside from the fact that the harness racing “triple crowns” on both gaits require, most of the time, more than three races (count elims, of course), the title itself is flaccid. Only breeders use the accomplishment to further business, which is fine, but the titles are neither promoted nor presented to the public with any significance. Someone needs to resurrect the entire concept of harness tri-crowns or toss their histories into the Hall of Fame as relic achievements.
Mitchell Cushing slammed home six winners, half of the races on the Sept. 20 program at Plainridge, prompting us to review his “flat-bet-profit status.” It took only one victory to show a profit on Mitchell’s drives (11 that day), however, even without that victory, the $22 cost of playing his drives to win (for no other reason than he was driving) was a good investment. His final winning drive that day paid $35.40, which was more than double the return before he produced that winner. So, for $22 investment that day, his winners returned a total of $70.20—a flat-bet profit in any ledger.
We have received inquiries about the plans for Lazarus N concerning the Breeders Crown. The late-season arrival from the depths of the Western Hemisphere has won a race and lost a race in his North American campaign thus far. His connections are not being specific about their pacer’s “Crown” participation but have indicated that if everything goes well, their aim is to send him to Pocono for the event. They say Lazarus N will show up at the Red Mile’s Grand Circuit meet (after winning again at Hoosier) and “If all goes well” he will head for Pennsylvania.
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