Memorial Day weekend rapidly approaching

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Ted Black

May 26th, 2016

While many Americans flock to the beaches or take the opposite approach and stay home for backyard barbecues to celebrate Memorial Day weekend, numerous harness racing fans will head to the track or find an ideal place to make several wagers as Yonkers Raceway offers a strong card on Saturday night and Harrington Raceway hosts another good one on Memorial Day.

Just before the midway point of the Saturday card at Yonkers, a modest field of six sophomore fillies will clash in the $100,000 Lismore Final. Since only six fillies entered the event last week there was no need for eliminations.

Although only six three-year-old fillies will go postward in this event, a case can be made for each of them and favoritism could swing several times in the late stages of wagering.

Cut And Paste (Brian Sears) has the rail and is one of two trainees here for Linda Toscano and arrives off a sharp, second-place effort at Pocono Downs. Kryptos has won seven of eight starts this year for trainer Nicholas Drennan, including his last two at Harrah's Philadelphia. Apple Bottom Jeans (Montrell Teague) has only won once in five tries this year, but she has been second three times and owns a solid 6-4-0 slate and $180,000 bankroll from 11 starts in Delaware. Dime A Dance (George Brennan) won her seasonal debut at Harrah's for trainer Ron Burke and was last year's New York Sire Stakes champion over this strip. Rock Me Baby (John Campbell) makes her seasonal debut for trainer Stefan Lind and won twice in seven starts last year, including  1:53 score at Lexington and then was sixth in her Breeders Crown elim. Soft Idea (Jason Bartlett) won her seasonal debut against NYSS foes for Toscano and the Maryland-bred filly looms a serious threat despite post six.

One race later the $45,000 Open Handicap for trotters looks to be a contentious affair. Major Athens (Sears) was assigned the outside stall following her second-place effort behind Bee A Magician in this spot last week. Cash Me Out (Tyler Buter) defeated conditioned foes here last week and has won five of 15 this year and 18 of 69 lifetime tries and banked over $500,000. Allerage Star (Daniel Dube) was second to Bee A Magician last week and sports two wins against conditioned foes here, while Crazy About Pat (Jordan Stratton) and Theraputic (Brennan) have often performed well here.

Then one race later in the $300,000 Art Rooney Final for three-year-old pacing colts, the entry of Artmagic (Brennan) and Missile J (Sears) looms as the odds-on favorite after last week's elimination. But they had opposing luck in the draw. Artmagic, who was a good third last week, drew the coveted rail while Missile J, a handy winner in 1:53.2 for Toscano last Saturday, got the dreaded eight hole. They could finish one-two or one-three again or perhaps settle for second and third.

Rodeo Rock (Dube) finished second behind Missile J in the lone elim last week and displayed plenty of speed and some late energy as well. He will start from post two and should be in prime position early, but his result hinges largely on when Missile J brushes to command from post eight. He looks destined to complete the exacta in any respect and with any luck he could capture this event and top all the gimmicks.

Then one race later in the $45,000 Open Handicap for pacers, Artistic Major (Brent Holland) returns to the New York half-mile oval after a gritty, 1:48.1 victory in the $75,000 Graduate at the Meadowlands in which he handed Rockin Ron his first defeat in 11 outings this year. Fittingly, Artistic Major was assigned the outside seven hole by racing secretary Steven Starr since he had won his seasonal debut in this event on April 30.

But Artistic Major is certainly not a cinch here and his flashy 1:48.1 score at the Meadowlands will likely send his price below even-money. Take It Back Terry (Brennan), a fixture in the tough George Morton Levy Memorial series the past two years, will start from post six for Burke and could regain his winning ways in this spot. Outrageous Art (Sears) will start from post five following a solid second-place finish in this event last week, while Levy combatant Dream Out Loud N (Buter) steps up off a solid second-place finish in last week's fast finale behind Doctor Butch and gets the rail.

Then in the Saturday finale, a non-winners of $20,000 last five class for pacers, look for Always At My Place (Brennan), The Real One (Pat Lachance) and Allstar Partner (Holland) to complete the triple. The Real One finally showed some glimpses of his stellar 2015 form when he rallied from far back to notch his first win of the year last week against slightly lesser. Always At My Place looked like a budding star for Burke last year and could prevail in this spot, while Allstar Partner has raced well over his last five starts for trainer Mark Harder and gets the rail.

Then looking ahead to Harrington Raceway on Monday, the Delaware half-mile oval will offer another solid card as many of its participants continue to gear up for the next round of Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund eliminations that will culminate with a quartet of $100,000 DSBF finals on Governor's Day in late July.

In the opener, four-year-olds Byby Landon (Victor Kirby) and Weapons Dealer (Montrell Teague) will leave from posts one and three, respectively, while John's Dream (Chuck Perry, Jr.) will look to continue prepping for the DSBF events for sophomore pacing colts and geldings while burdened with post eight. He has been first once and second three times in five starts this year, including a runner-up effort behind Next Success in the $100,000 DSBF final at Dover Downs in April.

Two races later in a non-winners of $80,001 lifetime class for younger pacers, Sports Bettor (Allan Davis) and Ima Rebel (Tony Morgan) will likely settle the issue in the lane despite drawing posts six and seven, respectively. Sports Bettor trounced non-winners of five foes last week by seven lengths in 1:53.2, while Ima Rebel finished a gritty second as the 6-5 choice in this class and will be among those again mounting a late challenge.

Then two races later in a non-winners of $7501 last four starts class for pacers, most of the contenders drop in class which should make favoritism difficult to pinpoint. Framed Art (Art Stafford, Jr.) has the rail, Remember Me VK (George Dennis) will start from post three, Bad Boy Matt (Davis) drops out of the Open and gets post five and Star Messenger (Kirby) returns to a level in which he won four starts back to cap a three-race win streak.

Then one race later in the $16,000 Open Handicap, Getitoffyourchest (Ross Wolfenden) seeks his second straight at this level and fourth straight overall when he leaves from post six. But Sparky Mark (Jonathan Roberts) and Just A Jolt (Kirby) both will have plenty to say about the outcome despite missing last week. Sparky Mark won the first Open of the meet for trainer Dylan Davis to cap a three-race win streak, while Just A Jolt has always thrived over the oval and will continue to prep for the Governor's Cup here in two months.

Then two races later in the eighth, a non-winners of $50,001 lifetime class for youthful pacers, Bobby The Greek (Wolfenden) and Next Success (Jim Morand) will look to overcome their outside draws. Bobby The Greek has won twice in four starts at the meet for owner-trainer-breeder Shawn Hanley and will likely have a much better trip than his parked-the-mile journey last week in this class. Next Success will continue to prep for the DSBF events and the Maryland-bred Veeza gelding trained by Les Givens will have to overcome post eight to notch his sixth straight score.