Meadowlands Menagerie Of Pacers And Trotters On Hambletonian Day In Star-Studded Program

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August 4th, 2016

August has, for years, offered an amazing introduction to the traditional second half of the harness-racing season. Jam-packed into one program on the first Saturday of the month, the Meadowlands waves the Grand Circuit flag and presents a slew of stakes featuring divisional stars. The day is focused upon the international features, the Hambletonian and the Hambletonian Oaks.

Those two major events on Hambletonian Day will be analyzed on our penultimate 2016 Hambletonian Trail blog. We will be there reporting the Hambletonian-program stakes live exclusively for TwinSpires, in association with the Society and the Meadowlands Racetrack on Aug. 6. Get to Twitter and follow @FrankCotolo and @TwinSpires and @RayCotolo for all changes, choices, updates, news and late action.

More wagering opportunities around the continent, of course, are listed in the exclusive horses-to-watch (H2W) list below.


On Friday, Aug. 5 at the Meadowlands, soph-colt-and-filly trotters gather in a feature each with two divisions for those that did not drop into the Hambletonians’ boxes. The colts go in a pair of Townsend Ackerman (TA) events ($50,000 each) and the gals go in the Duenna ($30,000 each).

The first TA split could be a spread-out wagering affair. Should the win pool be divided, there could be a good price on Steed. He has been a great earner against the top tier of the glamour division, most recently earning a good place at 8-1 in a colt “Zweig.”

The second TA presents an interesting debut in a soph season. Drawing post 10 is Winter Harbor, lightly raced at two, having ended his season almost a year to the day in the 2015 Peter Haughton final. Trainer Tony Alagna brings him back after a pair of good qualifiers but his gait and class is suspect. His return is pertinent when we realize that other than Hititoutofthepark, this field is void of class, per se. But, at a probable great price, Winter Harbor is a good partner with “Hit” in an exacta and would not be a surprise to us if he is sound and performs far better than any of these.

The first Duenna could attract a lot of money to Jimmy Takter’s Haughty, who failed to make an impression in the Del Miller, and his other gal, Miss Tezsla, coming off an abysmal effort in an “Oaks” elim. Meanwhile, the crowd may think less of Southwind Hope, the Andy and Julie Miller filly that qualified well after four sparkling miles.

The second Duenna mourns the miserable soph season for Kathy Parker (here in post 10, begging for her first win at three) and tosses her out, along with a number of others that have been performing poorly. One filly the crowd may not inspect with clarity could turn all tables on public opinion here; that is Pink Pistol. She has had a few weeks off since a terrific fourth finish in the Del Miller, coming into that one from a fine sires stakes at Philadelphia. She is five wins for a dozen starts this season and deserves respect among this lot, as well as she could certainly be a terrific price.


The $94,675 Shady Daisy for soph-filly pacers starts the parade of stakes on Aug. 6 at the Meadowlands. It’s a short field with only five in play, since Pure Country will be racing against the boys in the Cane Pace. This leaves Darlinonthebeach to take in a lot of money and own the favorite spot. However, we wonder how much better she is after her heart incident, especially since she struggled for the place in a sires stakes in her first race after a short recuperation. She was second to Pure Country in that race, even after skipping stride. That is seen as a strong move but it does spark the question of consistency.

That being said, an outside contender certainly has a shot either way you judge that performance. Certainly Blue Moon Stride will get betting attention, as will Call Me Queen Be and if they take enough money, Penpal could go off higher than she should go off. Her recent two places are impressive and one of them, the Mistletoe Shalee, was just a nick off of beating Blue Moon Stride, who was inside of her then and is outside today.


The first of the three 1 1/8th -miles races is a 12-mare field, featuring the dynamic Hannelore Hanover, now 10 wins for 11 starts this season. Everyone else in the free-for-all mares-trotting division has failed to defeat her in a few months, so expect her to take a huge amount of money. She’s the perfect key for exotics and one of her good exotic partners, who may also serve as an upset should a few hoofs pound out of whack, is Rules Of The Road.

Rules Of The Road faced “Hannelore” at Mohawk the beginning of June and finished third to her after a touch-and-go trip that looks like she lost more ground than she did lose (as Yogi Berra might have described the race line). It’s tough to imagine a Hannelore loss but this is Hambletonian Day, and bigger upsets have played out. Certainly, however, “Rules” would pump up exotics if in the mix.


Ten frosh-trotting colts vie for the status of being next year’s Hambletonian winter-book favorite in the $294,450 Peter Haughton Memorial Final. Arguably, this season has not produced a dominant boy, though some would argue, using Rubio, but none in the group has yet been totally proven.

Once again, Takter has more entries than the other trainers. Burke has two the rest send one each. Takter’s Rubio is unbeaten in four starts but in his elim he won in a dead heat with another Takter colt, King Of The Hill, who is here, too. Since they stand on equal footing at this early stage in their careers, we need to take a good look at the Millers’ Devious Man. The son of Credit Winner, a super sire, was gallant in his elim, with an early duel that did not break his stride. He coasted as the others struggled and checked in fourth to be eligible here. He is engineered to improve, as the Millers have done with many of their young trotters and if he could improve greatly, we will get him at a price he won’t offer any time soon this season.

The frosh-filly trotters chase $306,500 in the Jim Doherty Final and once again one of Takter’s juvenile whiz kids, Ariana G, takes the spotlight. Of two Takter gals here, Ariana G is only one race ahead of Thats All Moni, who was beaten by Trond Smedshammer’s Chezatter in the elim. Trond’s gal is here, too, and she looks to be a major threat. Jim Campbell has a trio, two of which has chased the Takter “twins” and Chesatter with minor rewards and Burke has two, including our choice in one of the elims, Waffle Cone.

This field is tighter than a snare drum, with a lot of speed and aggression that may wind up giving it to a trip horse who watches the battle, at the farthest, from mid-pack. A good candidate for such a trip is Evelyn, who would break her maiden should she be gifted the perfect trip. Two back she was best of the rest to Ariana G, though far back and with a more strenuous trip than we would like here. A price is guaranteed to win as are good ones with her in exotics with the best of the bunch.


The $273,600 John Cashman Memorial for older trotters gathers 10 of the toughest square-steppers this season. The cast makes any dead-on prediction undependable, at best. However, JL Cruze seems to have come out of a minor slump and looks to be in tip-top shape for this trial. He has worked himself back into a stakes after dull efforts in two and rebounds in conditioners. As well, he almost beat Hannelore Hanover in their last race and she would be a huge choice here. JL Cruze could be a third or fourth choice here and that would be quite an offering for such a steed.


The extended field presents a 1 1/8th-miles affair for the glamour-boy pacers. The $320,000 Cane Pace features 11, including Pure Country, the Takter soph filly that he felt was ripe to take on the opposite sex. With or without Racing Hill (he is absent), Control The Moment is the best colt here and unless he is maligned—as Wiggle It Jiggleit was last year with a duel that blew him and his challenger off the board—Control The Moment may put in the same victory he did in the Meadowlands Pace (when he beat Racing Hill).

Burke’s quartet will be gunning for “Control” but they have done so unsuccessfully before and the little extra real estate may make the Control win look easier. As for Pure Country, she will have to be pushed more than she has all season and needs a perfect trip as well as the kind of luck that hampers the other competent boys. If you toss her out, Control is a good key for exotics, along with a pricey Adrian Hanover and Manny. 


Ten older trotters are involved in this $75,000 Invitational, including last year’s Hambo champ, Pinkman. He has been lightly raced at four and unable to handle the elder division as he did with the sophomores. Musical Rhythm, however, has been great and fearless, earning four times her soph cash. Toss out his July 16 race, due to grueling dueling and he looks best, though everyone will see that. We like Wings Of Royalty to be in the mix and perhaps even toss an upset. He was very good when we gave you him in the Hambo Maturity, where he was second to Hannelore Hanover, and we forgive him for his July 29 effort, due to far better competition than what he faces here.


The $225,550 U.S. Pacing Championship is a championship in name only. However, of the seven four-and-up pacers, the best are here, led by Always B Miki. With Wiggle It Jiggleit on the outside and “Miki” revved up for a record mile from post 3, “Wiggle” could be third or worse, which could boost exotic prices, especially using Shamballa and All Bets Off behind him. You can even add Freaky Feet Pete because with Wiggle out of it you can count on getting some value for a Miki win. Other than that, the race begs you to lose interest.  


The $235,950 Lady Liberty is for pacing mares, going 1 1/8th miles. Lady Shadow, the Golden Girls winner a few weeks back at the extended distance, was beyond fabulous and she qualified to stay sharp after that, winning without taking a breath. Based on that race, her second-tier 12 spot here, the qualifier and the rest of the field, how does she lose this? The crowd won’t believe she can lose it and in our hearts, we don’t either.

However, danger looms from the inside, where Devil Child’s Golden Girls mile has merit as she hits the pay grid fourth with the rest of the best (Lady Shadow won that mile by 4 lengths and the next three were strewn down the lane, 9 lengths to the third and fourth finisher. She could be in the mix along with the obvious Solar Sister and longshot Katie Said. The Golden Girls was our TwinSpires Players’ Pool Jackpot Hi-5 victory from July 16. This is only a Superfecta race and we gave you four.

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.


8/5/16, Best Ears R7
8/6/16, Tonight We Rock R3; Shakina Hanover R5; Junior Pride R10

8/5/16, +Take On Da Boys R2; +Soul Diva R6
8/6/16, +Golden Echo R6; Jennas Lass R7

8/4/16, +Mr. Strata R9

8/6/16, Bluebird Image R3; Velocity Reign R9

8/5/16, +Bettor Believe It R13
8/6/16, +Our Jerry Lee R16

8/5/16, +Moonbeam Hall R2
8/6/16, +Sabine Pass R8; Moonwriter R10; +Thorn In Your Side R11

8/4/16, In The Mix R3; Play Again R7; Watch Me Too R9; Omaha Survivor R11

8/5/16, Eastender R4; Samba Gal R6; BBTinkerbelle R11

8/5/16, Wildman R1; +High Card Wins R5
8/7/16, Rocktavius R4; One Bad Shot R9

8/4/16, +Arctic Clipper R5
8/5/16, +Official Version R2
8/7/16, Benjaminbanneker N R3
8/4/16, Silvio Dante R2; Whirlwind R3; Best Escape Route R9

8/6/16, +Lonewolf Currier R6; Shady City R10; +McCedes R11

Red Mile
8/4/16, +Beachy Dreamer R9
8/6/16, +Hopenpromises R5; +Bogey Buds R7

Running Aces
8/6/16, Tame The Dice R4; Amped Up Hanover R6

8/5/16, +Jonigold R3; First Girl R4; +Caseofthesillies R6; +Camdee R11

8/5/16, +Race Me Android R3; Call Me Hal R5; +Explosiveafternoon R5
8/7/16, Alliegetty R5

8/6/16, +Lyons Meandragon R2

8/5/16, +Heather R3
8/6/16, +Blueridge Empire R9; +Hold On Tightly R10

8/5/16, +Psyched R12

8/8/15, Rosecape R2; Rockin Winner R4; Keystone Pavio R6; Do Over Hanover R11

Ray Cotolo contributes to this blog