Plenty of stakes action at Scioto Downs and Mohawk this weekend

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Ted Black

September 8th, 2018

While many sports enthusiasts are gearing up for a full slate of NFL games on Sunday afternoon and evening, harness racing fans will focus their attention of the bevy of stakes taking place at a quartet of ovals this weekend.

Saturday night Scioto Downs will offer an octet of lucrative stakes final for Ohio Sired trotters and pacers and most of the divisions appear contentious while several others feature a genuine standout.

In the second race on the card, the $275,000 OHSS final for two-year-old filly trotters, Only Take Cash (Aaron Merriman) looms the odds-on choice since the juvenile daughter of Cash Hall trained by Robert McIntosh has dominated the group en route to five straight victories and six wins in seven starts overall. But those who don't want to accept a short price on a freshman filly trotter can opt for Vivi D (Kyle Ater), Spirit Bell (Ryan Stahl), See Me Sparkle (Jim Pantaleano) or Stone In Love (Chris Page).

Then one race later in the $275K final for two-year-old filly pacers, Queen Of The Pride (Tony Hall) rates the slight edge for trainer Kevin Lare and owner Frank Chick in a solid group that also includes Rylee Roo (Merriman), Rose Run Uptowngal (Page), High Reward (Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.) and Final Offer (Trace Tetrick) who has won her last two starts while Queen Of The Pride has lost her last two outings but was a good third in the Eternal Camnation elims at Mohawk last month.

One race later in the $275K OHSS final for two-year-old colt pacers, Smackitwithahammer (Tetrick) rates the choice having won his last start in 1:52.3 at Northfield and two of his last three tries for trainer Brian Brown. Rock Candy (Wrenn) won his last start at Northfield in 1:53 for Brown, while High On Paydaze (David Miller) finished third as the 2-5 choice in his latest outing at Northfield which was won by Rose Run Ulysses (Dan Noble) in 1:52 who got post eight here.

Then one race later in the wide open $275K OHSS final for two-year-old colt trotters, Lane Of Stone (Jeff Nisonger) drew the rail and gets the slight nod having won six of seven starts this year for trainer Mark Winters. But competitors such as Never Say Uncle (Miller), Cumberland Gap (Wrenn), Oh So Pine (James McDonald), Yes (Josh Sutton), Wittyville (Page) and Homer Hall (Stahl) all certainly rate upset chances.

One race later in the $275K final for three-year-old filly pacers, Kay Again (Hall) should go postward as the favorite in a solid group that includes leg winners Lily Grace (Joey Putnam), Smiley Dragon (Tetrick), McPansy (Miller), Baron Remy (Page) and Prsntpretynperfect (Wrenn). Believe In Waco (Merriman) has won five straight on the Ohio Fair circuit for trainer Steve Novak but gets another acid test against this kind.

Then one race later in the contentious $275k OHSS final for three-year-old filly trotters, Looking For Zelda (Hall) looms the solid choice following her 1:54 score at Northfield for trainer Norm Parker, but California Love (Wrenn), Spunky Bottom Girl (Tyler Smith), Sesame (Miller) and Non Smoker (Noble) all have a chance for a lucrative tally in this spot.

One race later in the $275K final for three-year-old colt trotters, Two O B Wonkenobi (Wrenn) figures to be the odds-on choice having won three straight and seven of 14 starts overall this season for trainer Ernie Gaskins. Just to his inside is Uncle Buck (Merriman) and to his outside is Pass The Vape (Derek Watiker), Mission Accepted (Stahl) and Northmedo Mission (Miller) who have upset possibilities if the favorite does not deliver.

Then one race later in the $275k OHSS final for three-year-old colt pacers, Lather Up (Montrell Teague) rates the odds-on selection and the most recognizable name of this group. The George Teague, Jr. trainee as already won nine of 11 starts this year for owner-breeders Gary & Barbara Iles capped by a lucrative score in the Grade I, $750,000 North America Cup final at Mohawk Park in 1:48.1.

Of course, those not willing to concede this event to Lather Up can take swings at Rockathon (Miller), Seeing Eye Single (Wrenn) and Bounding Dragon (Noble), either of which would likely return $15 or more for every $2 win wager. Seeing Eye Single and Bounding Dragon were both narrow winners of their most recent starts.

Three races later in the main event on the Scioto Downs card, McWicked (Miller) will seek to successfully defend his title in the $250,000 Jim Ewart Memorial for aged pacers following his 1:49 score in the Canadian Pacing Derby last weekend at Mohawk in which he overhauled favored Lazarus N (Yannick Gingras) to score by two lengths over the acclaimed Down Under Wonder now under the tutelage of trainer Jimmy Takter.

Looking to play the ultimate spoiler role in the Ewart is Nuclear Dragon (Noble), who has won three straight including a pair of stellar victories over the Scioto Downs strip in 1:48.3 and 1:48.2, respectively. But the deep group also includes Western Joe (Page), hero of the $100,000 Great Northeast Open series final last weekend at Pocono Downs and the $260,000 Sam McKee Memorial final at The Meadowlands two starts earlier; defending Breeders Crown hero Split The House (Merriman), Dealt A Winner (Tetrick) and Ron Burke trainees All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) and Filibuster Hanover (Hall).

Tomorrow evening Mohawk Park will host a pair of eliminations for the Peaceful Way for two-year-old filly trotters and the William Wellwood Memorial for two-year-old colt totters as well as a pair of Simcoe Stakes for three-year-old pacers.

In the first $30,000 Peaceful Way elim, The Ice Dutchess (Gingras), upset winner of the $350,000 Jim Doherty Memorial at the Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day, rates the solid choice against Angies LUckeylady (Trevor Henry), Evident Beauty (Bob McClure) and Fraulein Blucher (Scott Zeron), then in the second elim Susy (Gingras) merits the favorite's role for Takter against Cambridge Kate (Jody Jamieson), Speed Tutan (Zeron), Sisters Promise (Tim Tetrick) and Teddys Littleangel (Paul MacDonnell).

Then several races later in the Wellwood Memorial elims, Green Manalishi S (Tetrick) gets the nod over Kings County (Zeron), Southwind Avenger (Henry), Hudson River (Gingras) and CT Conabra (Jamieson), while Indiana champion Swandre The Giant (Gingras) looms the odds-on choice in the second elim while making his debut for Takter following a seven-race win streak. Gerry (Tetrick), White Tiger (Anthony MacDonald), Okeanos (Roger Mayotte) and Union Forces (Zeron) rate upset chances.

Then in the lone $150,000 Simcoe Stakes for three-year-old filly pacers, Kissin In The Sand (Zeron) and Youaremycandygirl (Gingras) will renew their rivalry in this event. Youaremycandygirl posted the mild upset over Kissin In The Sand in the Shady Daisy Stakes at the Big M on the Hambo Day undercard, but 'Kissin" has since won three straight and could end Youaremycandygirl's four-race win streak. Shower Play (Louis Roy) and Parisian Blue Chip (Tetrick) are both in good form and cannot be completely overlooked.

Then in the first of two $85,000 Simcoe divisions for three-year-old colt pacers, Babes Dig Me (Gingras), The Downtown Bus (Tetrick) and St Lads Neptune (Jamieson) will be the top choices with Torrin Hanover (Randall Waples) and Phil The Thrill (Doug McNair) getting some support. Babes Dig Me was recently fourth in the $500,000 Messenger Stakes final at Yonkers, while The Downtown Bus and St Lads Neptune were one-two in an Ontario Sire Stakes event last out over the strip.

Then in the second Simcoe split, Stay Hungry (McNair), sharp winner of the Messenger Stakes last weekend, rates the odds-on choice against ONSS hero Backstreet Shadow (Gingras) who has won his last two. Stay Hungry had earlier won the Cane Pace on Hambo Day and remains alive for capturing the sport's Triple Crown for pacers heading into the September 20 Little Brown Jug in Delaware, Ohio.