Monday card at Harrington offers plenty of intrigue

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Ted Black

June 28th, 2015

While many of the sport's top three-year-old pacing colts competed Saturday night in a trio of eliminations for the Max Hempt Memorial final slated for July 4, more than a dozen state-bred sophomore pacers will clash in a pair of Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund eliminations at Harrington Raceway on Monday night seeking berths in the $100,000 DSBF final on the lucrative Governor's Day card, July 30.

In the fourth race on the card, the first $20,000 elimination split of the DSBF opening round, much of the attention will focus on a pair of geldings who did not draw adjacent spots. Smoking Joey (Corey Callahan) won an opening leg split at Dover Downs in March then finished a solid second in the final there behind Sonofa Sizzle for trainer Doug Lewis and owner Howard Taylor. But in four starts since then Smoking Joey has yet to regain his winning ways and he even failed twice as the odds-on favorite.

Drawing the outside seven hole in the opening round opener is Quick Art (Tony Morgan) who arrives from Saratoga Raceway having won three of his last four starts for trainer Josh Green. Quick Art only won twice in 14 starts last year, but this season the Artzina gelding appears to be peaking at the right time. He trounced $15,000 claimers in 1:53.2 on May 23, came right back to beat conditioned rivals in 1:52.3 then thumped older rivals by three lengths in 1:52 in his latest score over the New York half-mile oval. He figures to be a major player in both elims and the final next month.

Perhaps the pacer with the best chance to upend that pair is Roddy's Hot Again (George Dennis), a gelded son of Roddy's Bags Again who sports a 2-3-2 slate and $28,000 bankroll from 12 starts this year for his trainer-driver and co-owner. Roddy's Hot Again was burdened with post position eight in his most recent start when fourth against older rivals, but he had little trouble two starts back taking a non-winners of five races lifetime class by two lengths in 1:54.2 as the 3-5 choice.

Four races later on the card in the second DSBF opening elim, much of the public's attention will also be focused on two horses, both of which drew favorably and both appear certain to make the final in late July.

Remember Me VK (Montrell Teague) has won all four of his starts this year for trainer Robert Wyatt and looks poised for redemption in the final. Last fall at Dover, Remember VK scratched sick out of the first DSBF elim then won the second handily, which led to him being made the 4-5 favorite in the December 7 final. But Remember Me VK failed miserably in that event and faded to eighth and then missed the opening round of DSBF events at Dover in the spring. He has since won a qualifier and then four straight overnight races at Harrington and draws the rail for the first round of DSBF elims.

Two spots to his outside is Sonofa Sizzle (Victor Kirby), a talented sort whose success has been unmatched in the state-bred events thus far and he has carried his ability with him. A Life Sizzles gelding trained by Josh Green for owner Michael White, Sonofa Sizzle won both elims and the final of the DSBF at Dover Downs in the spring and later won an Art Rooney elim at Yonkers. He drew the eight-hole for the final and finished eighth, but rebounded to win an overnight event her in 1:53 on June 15.

Of course, those who are convinced this division is not a match race might take a shot at Art Season (Allan Davis) who notched his two wins earlier this meet against non-winners of lifetime foes. An Artzina gelding trained by Wayne Givens for a trio of owners, Art Season drew post two for this event and should be able to work out a favorable trip. His chances of upending the top two appear slim, but he could possibly deny chalkplayers of hitting a short-priced exacta.

Sandwiched directly in the middle of those two events in the $16,000 Open Handicap for older pacers, the weekly feature that has attracted the two most dominant pacers on the grounds at the spring meet thus far - Bandolito (Daryl Bier) and E Z Noah (Morgan). In fact, Bandolito was assigned post position seven and E Z Noah was assigned post eight on the far outside.

Bandolito won the most recent edition of the Open Handicap here last Monday despite being assigned the outside six slot, leading throughout to score by three lengths in 1:51.4. E Z Noah had won the three previous editions of the Open Handicap for trainer Josh Green after arriving from Pompano Park in Florida. This will be the first meeting between the two talented aged pacers at this meet, with the edge in this encounter likely going to Bandolito who was given a slightly more favorable spot after winning last week while E Z Noah was idle last Monday.