Meadowlands Pace Battle For Berths; Four-Year-Old Graduates Finals Featured; ‘Sheppard’ Sends Froshes At Yonkers

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July 6th, 2017

The heat is on. July takes off and the two-year-old season blossoms with it. You will find a few frosh stakes events as our features as well as the continuation of our Freshmen Frolic section, where we aim to sensationalize on the early two-year-old non-stakes races around the continent.

Highlighting the weekend is a single elim milefor the Meadowlands Pace on July 8. That evening also presents the trotting and pacing Graduate finals.

This week’s Hambletonian Trail, our TwinSpires-exclusive blog analyzes all of the races involving possible candidates for the August-classics, honing in on great wagering opportunities, includes top-purse state-bred affairs for both sexes.

The weekly H2W (the horses-to-watch) list is posted as usual, to, so do your own handicapping and then consider our H2W selections when playing your bets. Of course, remember to be fully armed with a plentiful TwinSpires betting account.


The freshmen are flying already and here comes one of the season’s first stakes events for the soph pacers. Yonkers’ Lawrence B. Sheppard elims are on the July 8 program, featuring three $25,000 divisions to settle the field for next week’s final. These are, in fact, baby-race stakes and they leave us with the problem of the season—evaluating first-time starters. These early frosh stakes fit kindly into our “Freshman Frolic” section (see below). When it comes to the lack of racing information everyone has on green horses, we use sires’ data to evaluate potential. 

In division one there are only two of the field of six and our data tells us that Persist Blue Chip is our focus horse. He has raced once in a pari-mutuels race and that fairs well for his statue (he finished third). However, his bloodline continually produces youngsters that are worthy of backing. It is difficult to demand a price in a short field with such frosh, so judge the value for yourself.

In division two we have two horses the public is bound to back strongly among the seven. Both of these—Kwik Talkin and Wild Bill—come from productive parents and both have yet to taste defeat in a single or two-time trip to the post. However, for the same reasons we like Persist Blue Chip in the first division, we want to back Mr Profeta in this mile. As well as the breeding, the fact that Mr Profeta has been out once and lost and being up against the aforementioned duo, Mr Profeta will be a valued wager, even as third choice (which may be possible considering Yonkers’ popular driver, George Brennan, will be the guide.

The last Sheppard elim offers seven again and although it offers a pair of well-bred entries from the same productive sire, the value here should come from only one of them, Matinee Fashion. Having lost his first outing, he should not be penalized as strongly as he will be by the public, which should zero in on Paprike Blue Chip and Lucky Leonard for the obvious reasons. Of course, obvious reasons usually offer low returns, so we are backing Matinee Fashion.


Though the $750,000 Meadowlands Pace Final looks to develop into a competitive mile, the single $50,000 elimination on July 8 at the New Jersey oval, appears a less exciting event. Three prominent soph-colt pacers, Downbytheseaside, Classic Pro and Miso Fast, received byes (they do not have to qualify for final due to earnings) and, of course, Fear The Dragon was never eligible and will not supplement.

To make betting matters worse, Huntsville, among the top three soph pacers and in finer fettle than two of those getting byes, will fight for a berth but from post 1 and against nine others that must perform better than ever to beat him. The “Pace” elim field is, at best, a poorly assembled group and if Huntsville cannot defeat them then he has more problems than were ever predicted by some (not this department).

Of course Huntsville doesn’t have to win to be in the final but trainer Ray Schnittker surely hopes that the colt can regain a bit of the respect he has lost by our predicted soph-pace champ, Fear The Dragon. Going into the Pace final with a good win will certainly make team Schnittker feel better, along with bettors feeling better about the colt.

So the race goes either to Huntsville with a wire-to-wire win, perhaps even a speed badge (it has been hot and sticky and pacers like to break records in oppressive heat), or he is short and goes to the final as one of the berth-earning also-paced but for three in this field. Who would want him as the favorite he will be in this? Not us. We would like to see Mr Varsity sit a comfortable suck-along trip and surprise the lot of ‘em. Tony Alagna’s colt has only raced twice at three and won once and since we don’t know what to expect from him let’s take the leap of faith and hope he is going to be very good, starting here.


The $240,000 Graduate Series Final for four-year-old trotters sends out nine horses and mares, including last year’s Hambo champ Marion Marauder, who is stuck in post 9. Regardless of the starting position, “Marauder” will be bet upon heavily. Also on the outside is Ake Svanstedt’s Double L Lindy, already three for six this season. He will get a lot of attention, as will Dayson, Ron Burke’s single entry.

But we are still revving up for a big win from Broadway Donna, who gets the rail. She has had less than a sterling season at four but has only been out of the mix once in five starts. She will get a bit of play but should still go off higher than her chances. This would be a good start for her to put a mark on her extended campaign, continuing to challenge the boys.

The $240,000 final for the pacers assembles the four-year-olds that have already become familiar. Western Fame gets post 10 but is still a major threat among his age group. Lyons Snyder pulled off an opportunistic win at a huge price in last week’s Sun Stakes Saturday affairs at Pocono but this mile should not set up for him as well.

Sintra is five for seven and sits in a menacing spot for what looks like soft speed, which will concoct a strategic race for the likes of Artmagic from the rail and Boston Red Rocks from post 8 and Check Six from post 9.

A good shot for an upset here is Roll Away Joe from the Burke barn. He has had some tough trips and no luck racing among the best. Burke and driver Matt Kakaley have pulled off some good upsets already this season with good horses stumbling along like “Joe.” This spot could be another such victory.


Two-year-old races at the beginning of each season are the most difficult events for handicappers to forecast winners, no less 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.

July 6
Hoosier, Just Bookem R4
Vernon, Manro R3
Meadows, Venier Hanover R10
Hawthorne, Sports Fashion Star R3; JBs Enigma R6
July 7
Vernon, Happy Glides R1; Act Like A Diva R3; Princess Dalia R6

July 8
Northfield, Showboat R1; Mr Jubliant R8

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.


7/7/17, Four Star Louie R2; +Mr Blakely R6

7/8/17. +Cedar Dunes R10

7/6/17, +HP Rubis Joyce R6

7/6/17, +Fox Valley Euforic R5; Lyons Levi Lewis R9
7/7/17, Lonesome Attack R5; +Atomic Art R7

7/6/17, +Dali Special R8

7/8/17, +Sweet Thing R2; +Call Me Queen Be R7; +Blue Moon Stride R8

7/8/17, Sports Agent R5

7/6/17, Kadabra Queen R6; Miss Mimi R8

7/6/17, +TKRs Metro Specs R8
7/7/17, Topgun Raider R4

7/8/17, +Exhibitionist R13

7/9/17, +Whitesville Liz R3

7/7/17, +Mr Maryland

7/9/17, +Highalator R11

7/6/17, +Dolce Seelster R2; +Come On Eileen R3

7/6/17, +Better Get Tipsy R4
7/9/17, Fritzie Rocket R2

7/6/17, +I’m Shameless R3

7/7/17, +Michelle’s Jazz R9

7/8/17, Homicide Hunter R8; Sports Bettor R12