Midweek harness update 12/4/14

Ted Black

December 4th, 2014

During the same week in which members of the United States Harness Writers Association received their ballots to determine the numerous division winners, trotter of the year, pacer of the year and invariably horse of the year, the Tuesday card at Rosecroft Raceway proved to be a microcosm of the national scene as the 12-race program separated the pretenders from the contenders in the chase for horse of the meet honors.

Since both the Rosecroft Raceway track management and the local Mid-Atlantic Chapter of USHWA select a different winner for the honor, the results of the Tuesday card would be pivotal as the presentations loomed on the following Tuesday, December 9 card. Heading into the Tuesday, Dec. 2 card there were nearly 10 horses still in the running for the titles, with all but one of them, Lyons Meandragon, competing on the rain-soaked "good" track on Tuesday. Almost in pairs, the pretenders got weeded out fairly quickly.

In the opening race on the card, the $10,000 Open 2 for pacing fillies and mares, both Don't Fool Around and Happy Feet Too arrived with a shot at the title. Don't Fool Around had won four of her previous nine starts at the meet for trainer Darryle Dennis, while Happy Feet Too had won three of eight local tries, including her last two starts. But neither of those mares emerged victorious in the opener as Bonnie Ben Jammin posted a 7-1 upset. Happy Feet Too settled for third, while Don't Fool Around finished sixth.

Just past the midway point of the card, both House On Fire and Molly B'Golly headed into the $10,000 Open 2 for trotters with a shot at the crown. House On Fire had won the Open three times in five tries, while Molly B'Golly, the Open winner the week before, had climbed through the non-winners conditions by winning four times at the meet. House On Fire led the field through the first three calls before fading to third, while Molly B'Golly wilted after a pocket trip and finished last. In short, both trotters bid farewell to any meet honors.

Then one race later in the $10,000 Open 2 for older pacers, Hot Art, Hi Sir and Shady Breeze all arrived with a chance at the crown, but unlike the other four pretenders who failed to deliver before them at least one horse emerged with a chance at the honor.

Hi Sir, who will be recognized for his efforts at Ocean Downs where the scribes selected him as horse of the meet, continued his winning ways when owner-trainer-driver Russell Foster steered the six-year-old Sir Luck to a second over journey and narrow score over Lord Terror in 1:53.2. It was the third straifght win for HI Sir and his second straight in the Open 2 and his latest form spree enabled him to join the idle Lyons Meandragon - a pacer he had overhauled the week before in the Open 2 - as serious contenders for the title.

Then three races later on the card, Cowboy Artist was looking to keep his hopes alive for the honor when he went postward as the 3-5 favorite in a non-winners of $2500 last five starts/optional $5000 claiming race. Cowboy Artist led the field to the half and three-quarters, but he gave way in the lane and was overhauled by Change Your Luck, who now boasts a three-race win streak. Cowboy Artist won four of 12 starts at the meet for trainer Eric Ell and owner William Still, but he is also in the midst of a four-race skid.

So essentially when the dampened stonedust settled on Tuesday evening, Hi Sir and Lyons Meandragon remained the two most logical contenders for the horse of the meet title. Now it is basically up to the scribes to select one and track management to take the other one, but both Hi Sir and Lyons Meandragon will likely each depart the Tuesday, Dec. 9 card with a trophy and Hi Sir's owner-trainer-driver should leave with two since the writers owe him one for being the Ocean Downs champion this summer.