Older pacers highlighted weeknight cards

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Ted Black

April 23rd, 2015

Last Monday evening Harrington Raceway in Delaware kicked off its spring meet with a card featuring a mix of younger and older pacers and then one night later Rosecroft Raceway Maryland presented another solid Tuesday program highlighting the aged pacers.

Monday evening at Harrington, Bandolito maintained its sharp recent form with a wire-to-wire score in the $15,000 Delaware Special in 1:51, a clocking faster than any of the top horses in the George Morton Levy Memorial Series at Yonkers Raceway have posted on a half-mile oval. A five-year-old Ponder stallion owned, bred and trained by Daryl Bier, Badolito has won five times this season, topped by a wicked 1:48.1 score at Dover Downs, which also rates best on a five-eighths mile oval.

Several races later on the Harrington opening night card, Tauranga (Jonathan Roberts) gained command soon after the start, got rated superbly by the half-mile mark in 56.3 then held sway through the lane for a length score in 1:51.4 to garner the Open II tally. A pacer with plenty of raw talent for trainer Doug Lewis, Tauranga will be a major player at the recent Harrington meet if he can mind his manners on the track each week.

Then on Tuesday evening at Rosecroft the older pacers, male and female, had their time to shine.

In the opening race on the card, Valerya (Roberts) lived up to her role as the 4-5 favorite when she rallied from last with three-eighths remaining to capture the $9000 Filly-Mare Open 2 Handicap by a length in 1:51.1 to establish a new track record for aged pacing mares. A seven-year-old Dream Away mare trained by Trish Foulk, Valerya notched her eighth win in 11 starts this year and pushed her seasonal earnings past $40,000 and got her name in the record books in the process.

Just past the midway point of the card, Manhattan Rusty N (Art Stafford, Jr.) overcame a first over journey and outlasted Hi Sir (Russell Foster) to capture the $9000 Open 2 Handicap for aged pacers in 1:51.3. A nine-year-old Artsplace gelding owned and trained by Gary Ewing of Ge's Romanero fame, Manhattan Rusty has now won three of six starts at the meet and banked nearly $14,500 this season after failing to earn a dime in six outings at Dover Downs.

One race later on the card, I Wanna Go Fast (Stafford) also overcame a first over trip and a two-week break to notch a gritty score in the non-winners of $6000 last five starts class for older pacers. An eight-year-old Three Olives gelding trained by Brian Callahan and co-owned by the trainer and Gloria Kinnamon, I Wanna Go Fast posted his second win in five tries at the current meet and held safe Racin Best (Brian Burton) who now sports a 2-3-1 slate in seven local outings for trainer Phil Jasper.

Then one race later in a non-winners of $4000 last five conditioned event for pacers, Dalhousie Dave (Corey Braden) and Beammeupscottie (Daryl Bier) finished in a dead-heat for first in 1:51.2, with Shady Breeze (Frank Milby) a nose back in third. It was the first win in seven starts this year for Dalhousie Dave, but Beammeupscottie now boasts three wins in five tries at the meet for Callahan.

One race later on the card in a non-winners of $6000 last five class for pacing fillies and mares, Little Miss Woohoo (Roger Plante, Jr.) maintained her sharp local form with a 1:54.2 score. A six-year-old Cams Rocket mare trained by Clyde Oglesby, Jr., Little Miss Woohoo has now won three times in six starts at the meet and likely earned another chance to tackle Open 2 rivals here.

In one of the earlier races on the card, one of the track's promising, lightly raced four-year-olds notched his second win in as many starts this year. Energy Shakes (Corey Braden) stepped up into the non-winners of $2500 last five starts or non-winners of four races lifetime class to prevail handily in 1:53. A four-year-old Western Terror gelding trained by Colby Hubble, Energy Shakes has won both of his starts this year and certainly bears watching as a potential rising star on the circuit.

But the best performance of the night by a four-year-old trotter was delivered at Pocono Downs when JL Cruze (John Campbell) gained command soon after the opening quarter, got a breather to the half and then held safe rival Opulent Yankee (Andy Miller) to capture the $30,000 Bobby Weiss Series final for trotters in 1:52.4.

A four-year-old Crazed gelding trained by Eric Ell for owner Kenny Wood of Denton, Maryland, JL Cruze notched his seventh straight win and 11th victory in 13 outings this year and the Weiss tally was his fourth series final triumph already this season. JL Cruze is certainly an emerging star on the national scene and his connections recently turned down a private purchase offer of $300,000 to keep the trotter with their sights set perhaps on open stakes company at some point this spring and summer.