North By Northwest
We begin this weekend’s blog with an unprecedented report on a main event that was cancelled.
Northfield Park finally got the brunt of offering the last glamour-boy pace of the season. On Dec. 9, only five colts entered one of the track’s premier events. Along with that decision are the plans to have the stakes return in 2015 but no longer for the soph-colt division.
As our readers are aware, this season produced a number of glitches in the three-year-old pacing crop, including the disappointing exits of high-profile contenders such as Always Be Miki, Limelight Beach and Hes Watching. The “Cleveland” affair had 38 eligibles. The fact that the Progress Pace last week only got six entries, the Northfield Park brass knew there could be trouble.
The five that did enter the stakes were All Bets Off, Big Boy Dreams, Boomboom Ballykeel, Forty Five Red and Good Citations. The track will award them $17,000 each for entering but bettors get no rebates for wanting to handicap the event. The track said next year the race becomes The Cleveland Trotting Classic and will be held in July.
From Cleveland’s Northfield to Edmonton’s Northlands, Alberta-bred soph-pacing fillies battle, after earning spots from two elims last week, for the crown of queen pacing dame in the Northlands Filly Pace. Sometimes the theater of outstanding upsets, the event becomes our main feature this weekend.
As well, we offer at Yonkers an analysis of another international simulcast Sunday program. This is the final TwinSpires Yonkers Sunday special program, where you can earn 30 points on the full card when you cash a wager. Click here for details.
Follow tweets at @FrankCotolo, @Twinspires and @HarnessRaycer all the time for great late-minute action from harness ovals everywhere.
Northwest pacing fillies from Alberta go for the gold on Saturday, Dec. 13, at Northlands Park in the $70,000 Northlands Filly Pace Final, the division’s premier event in the province of Alberta.
The trainer-driver king of Alberta standardbreds has long been Keith Clark. Here is he represented by Rummys Command, who surprisingly was not the favorite in one of the $12,500 elims. She won at 5-1, defeating Book My Flite (10-1) and Charismatic Art (8-1). The favorite in that mile, Wrangler Rockette, finished last, and the second choice broke to finish next to last, keeping them both out of the final field.
The second elim saw favorite Philly Collins (2-1) finish third to 7-1 Tajemallover and place-horse Smilys Amira (5-1).
The fourth-place finishers in each elim were, respectively, GTs Jamie and Nighttraintovegas. Those two are rank outsiders in the final, even for us.
The most impressive trip in either elim came from Charismatic Art. She dueled with “Rockette” and was largely the reason that one became hanged and why “Rummys” was able to clear the field by the half. “Art,” after settling in third, made a second move to the outside in pursuit of Rummys and while still gaining at the wire was just nipped by the filly she gave cover, Book My Flite.
The other noted performance came from Tajmeallover, though it was a single move, one huge brush from the half to three-quarters. “Taj” came from 9 lengths off the pace to 2 lengths, maintaining the second-tier engine. Her momentum swung her by “Amira” and “Collins” to win.
These two should team up for the first two spots. But Charismatic Art, for us, seems to be ready for what could be her biggest mile of the season.
Global Yonkers Sunday
The matinee begins at 11 a.m. ET, with a dozen races. Here are our suggested contenders for the races, with extra comments on the ones we like best.
In Race 1, Backstreet Hanover comes out of a race that, at face value, won’t impress most handicappers. But the mare raced most of that 1 ¼ mile in the short span of the Yonkers stretch and she closed strongly. The week before she took the lead off the gait and came back to be third after being buried most of the way. A 20-1 morning line (ML) is a figure we can only hope will be near correct. Also in here, Crazy About Pat broke and lost all chance last week in a mile race and comes back to where the gelding won at the extra distance. If he can steer clear of the traffic a 12-horse race can accumulate, he could come back at a far better price than winning as the 2-1 favorite.
Race 2 could very well belong to Keenan, who has worked hardest against stronger since October.
Not Afraid was short at the longer distance, mostly due to working too hard in an early duel. The Jimmy Takter product may offer a good price against this lower level of trotters and could go wire to wire at a fair price in Race 3.
Race 4 is the spot where Seagram could finally make the extra distance and do so as a weak second or third choice, since Bingo Queen from post 10 should get far more action.
If you care to play against a huge favorite in Race 5, Angels Ransom from the coveted Yonkers rail, Bourbon Bay will be leaving in an attempt to steal the top and the fractions and will be greatly overlooked in the wagering, arriving here from recently closed Batavia.
The standard mile returns for races 6—12. In Race 6, Ron Burke’s Hunkofburninlove steps up into a good spot, a class he has handled at Philadelphia. With probable favorites on the outside, “Hunk” could do it and pay well.
It would come as no surprise in Race 7 if Perfect Picture used the rail and early foot to try to steal this from probable public choices on the outside. A strong price is guaranteed if this scenario takes flight wire to wire.
Race 8 is a total mystery to us in every way, so let’s move to Race 9, where Little Michael B needs serious consideration in this drop.
Race 10 presents a prospect in recently claimed American Flight. Coming from Indiana, the gelding was nabbed and did well on the half-mile. He should be geared up for this race and perhaps a third choice or worse.
Race 11’s the first part of the late Daily Double and we love the chances of Our Cullenscrown N coming off of grand effort from post 8 on the half-mile last week, going overlayd for three calls.
The finale, Race 12, just has Stonebridge Tonic written all over it, so judge value for yourself but even at a low price, if you are alive in the Double off of our suggestion, you’re looking at a strong pay off.
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.
12/13/14, Little Nicky B R1; +The Evictor R2; Hiho Legacy R10; I’m Real Good R12
12/14/14, Waltxzacrossthewire R6; Nottin Too Much R5; Persuade Me R12; +Gentle Dragon R12
12/12/14, +In The Grippers R2; Pipecreek Star R3; +Cyclone Sweetheart R5;
12/11/14, Von Ryan’s Express R6; +Only The Lonely R7; +Cambassador R11; Getitoffyourchest R12; Tavranga R12
12/11/14, Fox Valley Shooter R2
12/12/14, Freshman Phenonom R1; Galactic Star R4; Lovedancinwithyou R6
12/12/14, Chocoholic R4; Mistery Woman R6
12/13/14, Twin B Spy R4
12/12/14, ER Gypsy R2; Skates N Plates R6; Martini Twist R8 +TT Tucker ae R9
12/11/14, Kadabra Girl R5; Stormy Ghost R7; Blue Time Ice Lady R15
12/12/14, Non Pareil R9
12/13/14, Powerful Passage R2; Eastwood Aurora R8; Whitesville Liz R9; Happy Madison R10
12/12/14, Jolie’s Prayer R1; Iced Out R4; Mr Orlando R5; Golden Tate R8; +Master Act R11
12/13/14, Wheelaway R5; +Dragon Power R6; Claremont Hanover R6; Western Rival R9; Northern Regent R10
12/12/14, +Crown Glory R6
12/13/14, Calm As Can Bee R1; Abs Jesse Hall R1; Halfa Century ae R2; Sf Donttellonme R5; Bold Decision R9; Major Starlight R11; +Money To Burn R13; Front Page R13; Devil Rei R13
12/12/14, +Time Stood Still R4; Flipper J R10
Ray Cotolo contributes to each edition.