Meadowlands’ Magnificent Racing Menu On Hambletonian Day Is Rife With Profit-Probability

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

August 2nd, 2018


The first weekend in August is upon us and as is tradition, TwinSpires harness blog is focused on the stream of stakes surrounding the Hambletonian program at the Meadowlands Aug. 4. In this preview blog and our Hambletonian Trail blog we analyze the big features looking ahead at the card. Then, in real time, from the racetrack, we support and update the most valuable plays. It’s the exclusive coverage that over the years has brought you high-priced winners of the Hambletonian events, as well as many of the other high-powered events offered at the New Jersey racetrack that day.

Check the official program for the specific order of the Meadowlands races featured below and be on tap at Twitter by following @FrankCotolo and @TwinSpires for all of the up-until-post data and information for your wagering decisions on Aug. 4.

Not to be ignored are other great wagering opportunities at North American tracks from Aug. 2 through Aug. 6 in the horses-to-watch (H2W) list and our exclusive two-year-old section, Freshman Frolics. Explore the possibilities we present for use in any wagers of your choice. Do your own handicapping and then consider any and all our H2W and frosh selections.


Eligible to the Hambletonian but passing the event are a number of colt contestants in the $50,000 Dennis Drazin on July 27 at the Meadowlands. A dozen go to post. A second “Drazin” event is on the Hambletonian day program.

In Grand Circuit action at the Meadows last week, Joey was a beaten favorite, beating himself, most likely when he galloped in the mile. The most successful winner in this field (not the highest earner), Joey has a great chance (and our backing) to win this one, this time as a co-favorite or worse. The public won’t overlook Rich And Miserable coming off a good win, nor a few others for the sake of brand-name trainers. Top-earners Chucky De Vie and Unforgetable do not have many knocks on their shallow soph schedule and even second-time starter Can’t Afford It should be shown support.


Last week’s sweep of the James Doherty elims that rewarded our readers with two double-digit winners combines into a single field of frosh-filly trotters in the $357,450 final.

The only favorite in the two elims to make it into the final is Beautiful Sin. Our contender, the 6-1 Starita defeated the prohibitive public choice in a smooth-sailing mile. That performance gives Starita an edge in the final, though there is no way to dismiss Beautiful Sin.

Coming from the first elim’s winner’s circle, our contender, Special Honor may find an enjoyable closing path again, considering expected early speed from Beautiful Sin, Hanna Dreamgirl, Hanovers Best and even Fate Smiled. Any significant shuffling to three-quarters will afford Special Honor a super shot at consuming enough ground in the stretch to win again.

By the nature of that scenario, however, we have to serve The Ice Dutchess her fair chance. She was tough in the Special Honor elim, finishing second after two moves. She left early and picked up cover behind a raging second tier attack and after the favorite (Susy) galloped, changing the face of the trip, she was flying again late. Special Honor used a single move to slip into a path just inside of “Dutchess” and nose that one for the win. Dutchess may certainly be the outsider of the two and deserves more than we expect the public to offer.


Soph-filly pacers battle in this $96,600 feature. This is the crème de la crème of the division and warrants a rematch between Youaremycandygirl and Kissin In The Sand. To make that more complicated, Alexa’s Power leaves from the outside with good intentions to take them both down.

Youaremycandygirl was a lock last week in an Adioo Volo division but it was a soft field for her, even with the problems she has had topping the division, as pundits did expect. “Kissin” has developed far better at three and will be strongly backed along with her rival, though the match is not so even. This is why Alexa’s Power, from the outside, may be the most valuable of the top trio. Trainer Jim Campbell’s filly comes off a terrific win and could benefit from a shuffle in which the other two may engage. The crowd may be swayed to one (or all) of Ron Burke’s three fillies and Kissin’s stablemate, Dance Blue, should have some backers.


What was the Duenna has been renamed for one of New Jersey’s top equine esquires, Frank Zanzuccki. Soph-filly trotters that have no business in the “Oaks” line up 10 behind the gate for this $30,000 affair. The top earner here is Piranha Fury, who battled many times on the Hambletonian Trail this year but came up short for the Oaks. Six of 11 times she made the board and has raced with a bit classier than shows up for this one.

However, we could get a fair price on Repentance, the Linda Toscano-trained filly that the public may not feel is up to this class. We think she could be as good as the Millers’ Follow Streak, who has won the most races of all these in as many starts as Repentance.


The $422,350 Peter Haughton Memorial for frosh-colt trotters is often a great betting race. This year, coming directly to a final with 10, it may be better than great. Each colt represents a newer generation of sires than in most of the event’s history and each of the five sires’ progeny is so green that an argument may be made for any winning.

Greenshoe is the top earner, winning it all in the two races that make up his career so far. Also with no losses is Gerry and Green Manalishi S. The most experienced in the field have only raced three times.

We would not blame anyone for passing on a bet here; no measure of expertise could confidently empty pockets for any of these colts. If, however, you seek a small wager on some possible value (not unheard of winning in this event, as mentioned), you could bank upon Ake Svanstedt’s son of Muscle Hill, Marseille. This could be the maiden win for a colt as well bred as the others who has hit the board in his two races. Maybe he could make it at a good price even without any frosh-trotting hijinx? For sure, Svanstedt will be quick to get into position and give this guy the best of his sire’s attributes.


Hannelore Hanover continues to have to prove her dominance over her division and the male division of older trotters and the $286,650 John Cashman Memorial is one more in this season’s series of challenges. The crowded field of a dozen could be a slight problem as “Hannelore” starts from the second tier post 12. Still, it may be a better spot than has her strongest rival, Marion Marauder (he leaves from post 8).

Were Hannelore to be toppled for her first time in six starts this season, it would more likely come from the rail horse, Will Take Charge. Perhaps with a trip that comes up extremely better for “Charge” than both “Marion” and Hannelore, a fair price on an upset will be in play. Even as the third choice, Charge should be worth a small swing.


At $281,000, The Cane Pace is the first race in the underrated pacing triple crown [sic]. Sadly, Lather Up is not here, though he rattled the super Aussie Lazarus N a bit in a qualifying mile. Check the H2W, as Lather Up races at Scioto.

Bound to be the top choice—and rightly so—from the betting public is Courtly Choice. He has a beautiful launching pad in post 2 and should benefit from an expected quick-fire start by American History from post 9.

“History” will lose some breath getting to the top and if challenged at all will fit neatly into a shuffle that will kill all of the speed in the stretch—just when Courtly Choice prepares to fire. It is near impossible for us to expect an upset considering the likes of the opposition. Nutcracker Sweet refuses to win no matter how well things go for him; Stay Hungry’s “Pace” elim win was not good enough to get better than third in the final (against “Courtly”); Grand Teton is no soldier; This Is The Plan rarely has never had a plan against these; Babes Dig Me picks up pieces; and Hayden Hanover has left seven miles behind without a win.


It’s hard to wipe out the sound of the late Sam McKee’s voice as he may have called the memorial race named in honor of him. The $260,100 event for older pacers is a strong tribute to a great race caller and, moreover, one hell of a guy.

A dozen take to the 1 1/8-mile event, with the division’s top dog, McWicked, in the second tier, post 12. That starting point is no particular burden, or shouldn’t be, but we will defy the popular, probable favorite anyway. Fresh off of a mighty win and in a good spot to upset is Western Joe. This race could set up for McWicked but it could also do so for “Joe” and his price is bound to be one for backing.


The older trotting set of femmes goes for $154,800 with the win share almost already in the pocketbook of Ariana G. What may you do with her but key her, even leaving from post 9. She is barely handicapped with that post and rolls all over these. It’s a pass or an exotic key situation where we would use Ice Attraction to boost the price.


Another 1 1/8-miles event is the Lady Liberty mares pace. Shartin N, who gets the rail, leads another dozen seniors again. Shartin N’s last extra-distance race buried her in the pack from leading them. With this crowd again with the extra read estate, we can take a good stab at a strong price and so we will with a true outsider—Pure Country.

Lightly raced compared to the other 11, she is apt to be unheard from for a few quarters and then boom from the outside at high odds. She has done this kind of racing and winning before and this race seems to cry for one of her stupendously surprising efforts. That is, to the betting public, not us.


Two-year-old races at the beginning of each season are the most difficult events for handicappers to forecast winners, no less where their bets will have value. Every season’s start for us means extra work on sire productivity, so we can make wise wagers in freshman races. If you handicap the races below, be sure to respect those listed as contenders.

Aug. 2
Crosscut R4
Budget Buster R4
Expedition R4; Demon Onthe Hill R8; The Muscle Dog R12
Black Dan R3
Toobigformybritches R7; Catch Me Conrad R9

Aug. 3
Costello R7
Lady Allaire R2
Jenny Lake R6; Thanks For Leaving R7
Royal Trumpery R8

Aug. 4
Red Mile
Highway To The Sky R5; Miss Martha Jones R11

Aug. 5
Goocho Denaro R3; Reformed Renegade R5

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.


8/3/18, He Gone Jack R4
8/4/18, +Fox Valley Halsey R6

8/2/18, +Intrepid Ivy R12; +Frontier Telaphras R12
8/3/18, +Want Me R3

8/3/18, Decoy R4; +Good Day Mate R11
8/4/18, Mississippi Storm R10; +Missile J R16

8/6/18, +Wheel And Deal R4

8/4/18, +Fine Diamond R3; +Paparazzi Hanover R4

8/2/18, Pansformative R2; +Love To Rock R3; May Day R7

8/3/18, Sassy Miracle R5
8/4/18, +Gabbys Being Bad R6

8/2/18, +American Force ae R4; +Master Clave R12

8/2/18, J-bird Hanover R6
8/3/18, +Blood Money R1; +Sugar Shock R3; +Soronno R3
8/2/18, +Cartoonist R2; One Swan For All R8

8/4/18, City Hall R8

Red Mile
8/2/18, Just Faye R5
8/4/18, +Camera Queen R8

Running Aces
8/4/18, +Usgeneral WA Mann R8
8/5/18, +Gravelsinmytravel R9

8/4/18, +Royal Flush R1

8/4/18, +Lather Up R10

8/4/18, +Bob N Tony R6

8/4/18, +Sweet Deisel R1; +Walk The Floor R12

8/4/18, +Mach Time N R11