Monday card offers plenty of value

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Ted Black

September 13th, 2015

Harrington will offer its feature race on September 21 when the track hosts the $200,000 Robert Quillen Memorial for older pacers, a race now slated as an Invitational in an attempt to level the playing field. Last year trainer Ron Burke had more than one-half of the starters in the elims and they raced uncoupled, at least on paper. But in one elim several Burke trainees targeted favored Dancin Yankee, who was in peak form, and virtually chased him from the final, which featured five Burke trainees who combined to earn 95 percent of the purse.

Fittingly enough in the Monday feature at Harrington, Dancin Yankee (Ross Wolfenden), who has had a subpar year by comparison to last season when he was among the best older pacers in training, will look to prove that he deserves an invitation to next Monday's Quillen. He will likely be the 5-2 second choice from post position six in a field of that size, with primary rivals Bandolito (Daryl Bier) and Just A Jolt (Victor Kirby), starting just to his inside from posts four and five, respectively.

Dancin Yankee won 18 of 29 starts and earned over $500,000 last year for trainer Josh Green, but he has clearly not been the same since being run down in the Quillen elim here last fall. He was the beaten favorite in four different elims for the George Morton Levy Memorial Series at Yonkers and failed to earn a check in the consolation. On the year he has managed only three wins in 18 starts, but he has banked over $250,000. But he arrives Monday off a sixth-place finish in the Roll With Joe at Tioga Downs behind State Treasurer, Clear Vision and Foiled Again, all of which could get invites to the Quillen.

Although Dancin Yankee looms as the class of the field with career earnings of $1.35 million and a lifetime mark of 1:47.2 taken last summer at Pocono Downs, the seven-year-old Yankee Cruiser stallion is almost in a must-win situation Monday night in order to convince the track racing secretary that he belongs among the elite in the Quillen. State Treasurer, despite a third-place finish in the Jim Ewalt Memorial at Scioto Downs on Saturday, is still the best older pacer in the land and the top two finishers in that event, Doo Wop Hanover and All Bets Off, are among the best four-year-old pacers on the planet.

Dancin Yankee virtually needs to capture the Open and do it in convincing style on Monday in order to get an invite to the Quillen. Bandolito, who boasts a solid 8-6-1 slate and $128,000 bankroll and seasonal mark of 1:48.1, can compete at a high level and Just A Jolt is the unequivocal king of the Harrington half-mile oval, having won back-to-back editions of the Governor's Cup. Both Bandolito and Just A Jolt also face the prospect of perhaps convincing onlookers that they also belong in the Quillen, which has only added to the stellar reputation of Foiled Again, the sport's all-time winningest pacer.

In the opening race on the Monday card at Harrington, Dragon Seelster (Tony Morgan) will look to rebound from several near misses in the same class when he leaves from post three in a non-winners of $51,501 lifetime condition. But newcomer Roddy's Hot Again (George Dennis) arrives off a second-place finish behind Remember Me VK in their $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund final for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings on Governor's Day.

Then one race later in the $12,500 Open II, look for Leyden (Wolfenden) to regain his winning ways after a solid second-place finish behind Special T Rocks in the top class last week. Granted, this William F. "Doc" Moffett homebred has not found the winner's circle in quite some time, but the four-year-old Quik Pulse Mindale gelding has been second four times in his last six starts. He was second in this class on August 31 and earlier on June 22 and he was a good second behind Bad Boy Matt on the Governor's Day card.

Then one race later in a non-winners of $80,001 lifetime class, all eyes will be on the razor sharp Letsmakeawish (Montrell Teague), who brings a four-race win streak into the event. A three-year-old Western Terror gelding owned and trained by Kevin Switzer, Letsmakeawish began his current skein at Plain Ridge Race Course but he has since thrived over the local oval, scoring consecutive wins in this class in 1:54 and 1:52.2. Pronology Z Tam (Jonathan Roberts), who was unlucky last week, should complete the exacta.

Then one race before the featured Open I, look for Feel Like A Fool (Roberts) to regain his winning ways when he leaves from the rail as the 8-5 favorite in a non-winners of $7501 last four starts conditioned event. A seven-year-old Art Major gelding trained by Robert Clawk, Feel Like A Fool won his previous start over the oval in this identical class and did so while pacing first over into a brutal 55.2 back half. He should be able to control the tempo or be near the front throughout while starting from the rail on Monday.