Maryland-bred and sired pacers and trotters on display this weekend

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Ted Black

October 13th, 2017

Saturday afternoon at Yonkers Raceway the spotlight will be on the older trotters in the Grade I, $1 million Yonkers International Trot and a pair of $250,000 Invitational events at the New York half-mile oval, but the eight $225,000 New York Sire Stakes finals will offer several Maryland-bred pacers and trotters the chance to shine. That evening and then on Sunday evening, Rosecroft Raceway will host the second round of Maryland Sire Stakes eliminations for two-year-olds of both gaits and genders.

Saturday's opener at Yonkers is the $225k NYSS final for two-year-old colt pacers where railbound Hitman Hill (Brett Miller) arrives with a perfect record from six starts and sports a lifetime mark of 1:50.4 at Vernon Downs and looms the odds-on favorite for trainer Chris Oakes.

But four of the five horses immediately to his outside are products of Winbak Farm in Chesapeake City, Maryland, an established commodity in the sport that already boasts harness horse of the year winners Rainbow Blue, No Pan Intended and Muscle Hill, now the sport's premiere sire for trotters.

Casual Cool (Jason Bartlett), a juvenile son of American Ideal trained by Linda Toscana, has won five of nine starts and banked nearly $140,000 for owner Kenneth Jacobs and gets post three tomorrow. My Delight (Brent Holland) has won twice in nine starts and has post two, Jersey Jim (Jim Devaux) has won three of eight tries and leaves from post four, while Silver Arrow owns a 1-4-3 slate and leaves from post five for trainer Howard Okusko.

One race later in the $225k NYSS final for two-year-old pacing fillies, Wisdom Tree (Tim Tetrick) arrives having won her last two starts for trainer Ed Hart, including a NYSS split at Monticello Raceway in 1:55.4. But this Winbak Farm product and daughter of Betterthancheddar was unfortunate to get post eight and will likely garner much attention against a field where Betterthangraduate, Azreal As It Gets, Hurrikane Shorty and Alexis Faith all drew inside of her.

Then two races later in the $225k NYSS final for three-year-old filly pacers, a trio of Winbak products will be seeking to upset Obvious Blue Chip (Scott Zeron), who finished third in the $164,000 Jugette final. Angel's Pride (Jordan Stratton) brings a 6-1-3 slate and $150,000 bankroll from 20 starts this year and leaves from post three, but Clear Idea (Mark Macdonald), who owns a 9-7-2 slate and $265,000 banked, and Tequila Monday (David Miller) who owns an 8-6-1 slate and $350,000 banked from 19 starts this season for Oakes, were burdened with posts seven and eight, respectively.

Two races later in the $225k NYSS final for three-year-old colt pacers, Funknwaffles (Corey Callahan) arrives off a sharp, second-place finish in the $400,000 Little Brown Jug final and looms the odds-on choice from post four, but Winbak Farm product America's Fleet (Bartlett) will seek the upset for Hart from one spot inside the favorite and brings a modest 4-3-3 slate and $70,000 banked from 22 seasonal outings.

That same evening at Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland, a quartet of non-betting MDSS prelims will kick off the card. Iron Mine Krystal (Art Stafford, Jr.) is the one to beat in the 2yoft, Bo Breeze (Allan Davis) and Lloyd's All In (Jared Moyer) rate the top two in the first split for 2yocp, Gaagaa Gone (Russell Foster) and TV Sensation (Chris Offutt) should settle the issue in the second prelim for 2yoft and Toms Tyrannosaurus (Stafford) and I Run This Show (Foster) look best in the second 2ycop split.

Then on Sunday evening, Chucky De Vie (Ross Wolfenden) looks to make amends for his break in the first MDSS split for 2yoct; Miss Choptank (Victor Kirby) and Cool Toy (Jason Green) will clash in the first 2yofp prelim; Judge Bob (Jonathan Roberts) and What That Is (Brian Burton) will battle in the second 2yoct split, while Princess Rusty (Roberts), Tell Me The Truth (Stafford) and HS Shauna (Roger Plante, Jr.) will vie for top honors in the second 2yofp prelim.

Yonkers and Rosecroft will also share a common bond in three weeks time courtesy of several of the sport's top older pacers. Saturday afternoon Yonkers will offer the inaugural $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational for free-for-all pacers and look for several of the combatants, perhaps Sintra (Jody Jamieson), Keystone Velocity (Daniel Dube), All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley), Missile J (Tim Tetrick), Bit Of A Legend N (Stratton) and Mach It So (David Miller) to head south for the second edition of the $100,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft on Sunday, November 5.

All Bets Off won last year's inaugural edition of the Potomac Pace in 1:48.2, equaling the all-age track record at Rosecroft on a night when temperatures had dipped well into the upper teens. Expect All Bets Off back to defend his title for trainer Ron Burke and look for Keystone Velocity, hero of the 2017 George Morton Levy Memorial Series final, Bit Of A Legend N, the 2016 Levy champ and recent hero of the $150,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial at Harrington Raceway, and Mach It So, two-time winner of the $400,000 William R. Haughton Memorial at the Meadowlands, to be on hand in three weeks.