Our Season’s Soph-Trot-Colt Choice, Marion Marauder, Wins Hambletonian; Shambala $19 Upset Beats ‘Miki’

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August 8th, 2016

We made our annual sojourn to New Jersey again this year to cover the parade of stakes surrounding the main events at the Meadowlands, the Hambletonian and the Hambletonian Oaks.

The headliners were the classic sophomore trots on Aug. 6. The $1-million Hambletonian Final (all boys this year) was won by a colt we predicted would have a good season in the three-year-old trotters review of Hoof Beats, the USTA monthly, early this year. Marion Marauder was also our pick at the Hambletonian Trail blog on July 9, when he paid $15.00 winning, and on July 16 in a division of the Stanley Dancer when he paid $4.00 to win. Though he won his Hambletonian elim heat over the immensely backed Southwind Frank, paying $8.80, “Maurader” yielded favorite status in the final (as did “Frank) to the other elim-heat winner, Bar Hopping. Marion Maurader closed on Frank in the stretch and beat him, while Bar Hopping was short and finished fifth.

In the “Oaks,” trainer Jimmy Takter’s only entry, All In Time ($9.20, $4.40, $3.00, beat the favorite, Caprice Hill, with one of the many off-the-pace wins on the mile track for the day.

Our last Hambletonian Oaks blog will be up shortly with an essay on the 91st Hambletonian from our unique position as an industry insider who serves the betting public first and foremost at TwinSpires.

Throughout the heavy stakes program of Aug. 6, there were few upsets. Here is a rundown of the day’s stakes:

In the Shady Daisy, we tried to beat our own favorite, Darlinonthebeach, but she has totally recovered from her brief heart ailment and won as the second choice in the five-horse field. Penpal (11-1) finished fifth.

The Fresh Yankee mare trot was a walkover for Hannelore Hanover, beating our outside contender, Rules Of The Road (43-1), who trotted a good half mile nonetheless, finishing fifth.

The frosh Peter Haughton Memorial trot produced an upset but not the colt we backed. What The Hill (8-1) won and will lead the traditional list of 2017 “Hambo” favorites. We backed Devious Man (37-1) who may have given “Hill” some trouble if staying on stride. Devious Man broke at the start. Though he made a remarkable comeback he could get no closer to Hill than 4 lengths and finished fifth.

The John Cashman trot for older horses went to the favorite, Resolve, while our contender, JL Cruze (4-1), finished fourth.

We were certain and so was everyone about the winner of the Cane Pace. It was Control The Moment ($3.20, $2.60, $2.20). Our exacta suggestions were not potent, as Adrian Hanover (34-1) broke and finished 11th and Manny (30-1) finished ninth.

We were off the board with Wings Of Royalty (3-1) in the Vincennes, while our second choice finished second. That was Musical Rhythm ($3.80, $3.40), as a 6-1 snuck through a line of horses at the wire to win.

Our best suggestion, price wise, was the possible upset in the US Pacing Championship. Considering a fast, dueling scenario in which the obvious favorite, Always Be Miki, is compromised to work extra hard in the 1 1/8th-mile stakes, we brought to your attention the eventual winner, Shamballa ($19.80, $6.00, $11.60). The other exotic partner we supposed, All Bets Off (57-1), finished sixth. Always B Miki’s tough speed challengers cost him dearly—he finished fourth.

We won the closing stakes with a super mare, Lady Shadow ($3.80, $2.80, $2.20) in the Lady Liberty. Offered as exotic partners were three horses, two of which finished second and third to complete the $41.40 trifecta. They were Solar Sister ($3.20, $2.40) and Katie Said ($3.40). Devil Child (11-1) would have made for a decent Superfecta character had she not finished sixth.

Friday night, Aug. 5 at the Meadowlands, we were second in one Townsend-Ackerman split with Hititoutofthepark ($3.40, $2.60) and third in another with Southwind Hope ($2.80).

On various Wednesday nights we tweet for TwinSpires Twitter members from @FrankCotolo –retweeted by @twinspires—and the raceway involved. Losers from each week will appear on the next week’s horses-to-watch (H2W) list unless they race before that blog is published, so watch for them returning to the races on days in between blogs. Watch for special tweets from raceways on various Wednesdays.

With the Hambletonian Trail ending with the Aug. 6 classics, we are poised to begin our next annual events blog, The Breeders Crown Countdown (BCC). In two weeks we will again offer two blogs, our main betting blog and the BCC, where we will follow the top performers in each division racing in events leading to the championships in cooperation with the Hambletonian Society, which administers the series. Great wagering races will be analyzed on the BCC blog weekly through the elims and finals, this year in late October at the Meadowlands.


The H2W results list across-the-board prices. Also, exactas listed are included when a H2W horse finishes second with a race favorite or the first two finishers making up the exacta are H2W horses (an asterisk appears when both horses were listed to complete a cold exacta). The note “ok” determines that prices published are correct even when a show price exceeds a place price or any or all of the prices are the same. This week, there were 59 active horses (a 10-percent win hit rate and a 37-percent in-the-money hit rate).

Please note that some H2W results reflect win, place, show and exotic results occurring by press time but some horses race after the blog is posted (we list them the following week) It is up to you to follow horses that have not performed before this weekly review is posted.


Bogey Buds, $9.20, $4.60, $2.80, Red Mile
Shakina Hanover, $5.10, $3.00, $2.70, Batavia
Blueridge Empire, $4.90, $4.30, $3.00, Tioga
BB Tinkerbelle, $4.60, $2.60, $2.60 ok, Northville
Psyched, $4.10, $3.10, $3.80 ok, Vernon
Crann Tara, $2.80, $2.40, $2.10, Philadelphia

Sabrine Pass, $19.50, $7.70, Mohawk
Junior Pride, $10.00, $6.40, Batavia
Hold On Tightly, $6.00, $4.80, Tioga
Steph’s Place, $4.40, $3.20, Running Aces
Samba Gal, $3.40, $3.20 (Exacta $9.00), Northville
Caseofthesillies, $2.40, $2.50 ok (Exacta $6.40), Saratoga


Best Escape Route, $7.40, Plainridge
Bettor Believe It, $6.00, Meadowlands
High Card Wins, $5.80, Ocean
Amped Up Hanover, $5.20, Running Aces
Jonigold, $4.70, Saratoga
Omaha Survivor, $3.60, Monticello
First Girl, $3.30, Saratoga
Texas Rattlesnake, $2.80, Running Aces
Whirlwind, $2.80, Plainridge
Call Me Hal, $2.40, Scarborough

News & Notes

while many of us in the standardbred racing industry continue to mourn the closing of Colonial Downs—harness racing’s sole one-turn mile—in Virginia, pari-mutuels harness racing is set to continue at the Shenandoah County Fair. Formerly Woodstock Raceway, racing will begin Saturday, Sept 10, programs offered on Saturdays and Sundays for five weeks. Renovations updated the grounds of the 98-year-old facility, according to sources, “while keeping the county fair charm.” The track’s administration announced that the “smallest purse would be $3,500” and there would be total purses daily of “approximately $50,000.”

Programs should include approximately 10 races with Virginia Preferred horses having preference in all races but “it is anticipated that most events will be opened up.” The half-mile track has been widened to accommodate eight horses with banked turns. The Virginia Harness Horsemen’s Association secured a five-year lease with three five-year options at Shenandoah Downs.

One of the highpoints of the Hambletonian weekend was having a conversation with Mal Burroughs, whose history with the classic events for colts and for fillies since the Hambo moved to the Meadowlands, is deeper than anyone involved with it, since Mr. Burroughs is responsible for building the original Meadowlands. As well, he is the owner/driver of Malabar Man, who won the Hambletonian and Gleam, who won the “Oaks” Malabar Man went on to become a productive sire and Gleam a fruitful mare. Mal was not a professional driver when he drove either of those victories.

Mal rose from poverty to create a multi-million dollar development and construction company and in the mid-1970s that company was responsible for building the original Meadowlands after having developed much of the unsavory swamp area of northern New Jersey. His real-estate empire is testament to an area that few thought could thrive but Mal conducted plans that made the swampland into neightborhoods, shopping malls and, of course, the Sports Center that houses the Meadowlands and Giants Stadium. He also bred and trained horses at his own Malabar Farms.

Mal has survived two major bypass surgeries and told us he is finally ready to slow down. At 76 he looks great and is ready to hit the golf courses for retirement play and watch the New York Yankees battle for more championships. Of the many standardbred owners I have met in my decades of harness racing, Mal Burroughs remains one of the sport’s most dedicated and supportive to the industry. The original Meadowlands structure has is yet to meet its doom. Though it is empty, dark and discolored, its huge concrete body is planted on the ground from which it was build. It rises from its foundation and can be seen from the opposite side of the new Meadowlands like a defiant monument to Mal Burroughs.

Extraordinary Extras

Indulge in many standardbred topics at my Hoof Beats blog titled Vast Performances.

Ray Cotolo contributed to this blog

For Thom Pye cartoons, informative harness history and more, click here ~