Pocono Parades Big Cast; Vernon’s Aflame With Famed; Mohawk, Tioga Grand Circuit Stories; Cup & Saucer Served

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

August 20th, 2015

The second part of the season is sizzling in the hot August days and nights and this coming weekend piles the stakes on the tracks. The Meadows, Pocono, Vernon, Charlottetown, Mohawk and Tioga host many stars from various divisions.

This week, we supplement our main blog by launching our annual Breeders Crown Countdown (BCC). The exclusive blog coordinates with this, our main harness blog, at and the Hambletonian Society to find great wagering opportunities for "Crown" eligibles as they race their ways to the finals. This year the finals take place at Woodbine on Saturday, Oct. 24, with elims the week before.

Covered in the first BCC blog are the Hudson Filly Trot elims at Yonkers, the Sebastian K Invite at Pocono and the Moni Maker as the Meadows.

Action speaks louder than words, so our harness racing horses to watch (H2W) list simply names sharp suggested contenders for across-the-board and exotic wagering in overnight (and some local stakes, specifically two-year-olds) activity.

Valiant Vernonites

Aged trotters and mare pacers will venture to Vernon Downs on Friday, Aug. 21 for the $177,000 Muscle Hill Trot, $194,000 Artiscape Pace, and $200,000 Crawford Farms Trot.

The Muscle Hill Trot attracts a familiar group of mare trotters, since a majority last raced in the Fresh Yankee on Hambletonian day. Prevailing in the Fresh Yankee was European native D’one, who benefitted greatly from an obscurely fast pace from her position towards the rear of the field. She is not likely to have a similar pace develop here, which could prove troublesome. Bee A Magician will be the main obstacle for D’one to overcome, as she will certainly not put herself in a strenuous position like in the Fresh Yankee, where she led for a majority of the race.

Away from the mares on center stage for this event is another talented mare, Shake It Cerry, who got a beautiful trip in the Fresh Yankee but could only manage to finish third. She has exhibited a struggle in added distance races, finishing an even third in the Hambletonian Maturity and a mild bid in the Fresh Yankee to secure third. Her performance on Hambletonian day shows that she is getting sharper with every mile and should be up to the test of stealing the spotlight.

Anndrovette has risen to prominence once more among the mare pacing division, instilling her as the public contender in the Artiscape. While her effort in the Lady Liberty was more impressive than her pouncing move to win the Golden Girls, many of these mares race their best at the standard distance versus having the extra furlong in the aforementioned stakes. However, Anndrovette’s revitalized speed talent will be a threat to Lady Shadow, who defeated these mares in a practically wire-to-wire effort in the Roses Are Red.

Such a conflict would allow for stalking mares Table Talk and Sandbetweenurtoes to spoil the party. In the case of Table Talk, she is consistently involved at the finish, mostly because she tends to secure a pocket trip. Though, a pocket trip in this event would be preferable under the scenario involving Anndrovette and Lady Shadow producing an unsustainable pace. Sandbetweenurtoes will likely be the better price of this duo since she faltered as soon as she began a bid in the Lady Liberty. Yet, she was wide for that entire mile which, compared to the Golden Girls, was more strenuous. She will likely find a comfortable trip due to her improved draw and should benefit from the move back to a mile

Composing the Crawford Farms Trot is a field of ten aged trotters with no definitive headliner. Favoritism may lean towards Market Share off a 10th-place effort in the John Cashman or towards Flanagan Memory off a win in the “Cashman.”

Regardless, these two are beatable and Obrigado, most likely can pull off the task. Showing guts through a mostly first-over grind in the Cashman, Obrigado finished third. He was well mannered in the Cashman than in the prep, only jumbling his stride once in the Cashman versus twice in the prep. He, based on consistency and resiliency, may be the best horse in this division, and obtaining a 5-1 price or greater on a trotter of that title is value.

Brandywine Battle

In the $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine at Pocono, Aug. 22, Wiggle It Jiggleit will attempt to control the pace from the rail, holding off eight soph colt pacers, though they are not all serious contenders. The divisional champ has shown his weaknesses and only one foe in this field has been able to take full advantage of them.

Wakizashi Hanover, beat “Wiggle” in the North America Cup with a fully covered trip, allowing for a late sweeping move as Wiggle came up short (he was second, holding off the rest of the field). Dealt A Winner, beat him in the Cane Pace, thanks to a Wiggle-In The Arsenal speed duel that gifted him a winning stretch drive through the smoke of the burned out jousters.

Wakizashi” would need a similar trip as in the “Cup,” to win, which does not seem realistic. Even if “Dealt” didn’t have the 9 hole here, he would be no threat. Nor are the five leaving to the right of Wiggle. Indeed, the best pacer here once again gets a bad draw—Artspeak leaves from post 8. Wiggle certainly looks to scoop the race but we contend you can never count Artspeak out and now that the public has crowned Wiggle the better horse, we submit the possibility he can still be beaten by Artspeak, it is worth a shot as an upset (even from post 8) and he certainly has become a strong exotic partner since being dismissed as the divisional leader. Those three are also a solid triple play.

Colonial Colors

In the glamour-boy trotters division there is also a half-million up for grabs and Pinkman should grabbing most of it. From post 2 he faces trotters he beat twice in one day in the Hambletonian and a few that didn’t go for the classic. Takter has his other top soph tortters here, too—Uncle Lasse, The Bank, Canepa Hanover and French Laundry.

You won’t be getting the fabulous low prices Pinkman offered in the Hambo heat and final thanks to Mission Brief; this will be a prohibitive price. But even Wiggle has not been the key lock that Pinkman has been, so look for the best combo of exotics with him on top. An all-Takter-trained triple is not out of reach. So to speak, you can take Pinkman to The Bank … etcetera.

Valley Forge Fighters

The Valley Forge for three-year-old filly pacers will be raced in three increments consisting of two consolations and a final.

The second consolation goes for a $75,000 prize and comprises such memorable names as Well Hello There and Southwind Roulette, both of whom dealt with stakes fillies but struggled at the level. Despite their back class, the duo is practically in the same form as the rest of this field, which makes this a wide-open event.

Off a sharp qualifier at Plainridge, Luck Be A Lindy may be the most viable contender for value. Before qualifying, she was competing on the New York Sires Stakes circuit, putting in slightly above average performances against presumably tougher fillies than she is up against here.

The $150,000 consolation seems to be in the hands of Ideal Nuggets, who appears with three wins in a row. But even though she has the class and the form to win easily here, Gigi Deo may be a threat. She attempted to compete with the top gals in the Shady Daisy after finishing second in a Delaware-bred event, which proved futile after she stayed at the pylons and struggled to find room late in the mile. She is now competing with fillies in her league, which can only benefit her.

The $300,000 final has no definitive favorite, as well as the division has no definitive leader. The only filly here that comes close to the criteria is Moonlit Dance and she has not seen these fillies since the Mistletoe Shalee a month ago. Certainly Bettor Be Steppin, if not sent off the favorite, would be worth the shot, seeing as she raced well off a trip in the Shady Daisy.

Yet, Wicked Little Minx will arbitrarily be ignored from post 8. She raced reasonably for a first-over trip in the Shady Daisy but she did fail as the favorite. She should not be dismissed off of one race where she ventured through a difficult trip and retreated slightly, especially when her post will likely set her up for a better trip.

Grand Circuit Canada

At Mohawk this Saturday, Aug. 22, the Nassagaweya and Eternal Camnation stakes offer big bucks for Grand Circuit-class horses. They also serve as final preps for the Metro Pace and She's A Great Lady Stakes eliminations on Aug. 29. A total of 21 freshman pacing colts split into three $78,334 divisions of the Nassagaweya and 15 frosh-pacing fillies go in two Eternal Camnation divisions worth $110,631 each.

In Nassagaweya split one, seven combatants are lead by Voracity, a sharp frosh by leading Canadian sire Sportswriter. Tony Alagna trains the probable favorite. The second choice should be Talk Show from post 1. From mid-pack, the Linda Toscano-trained Bottom Deals will be overlooked, giving an improving frosh a chance at a good price.

In round two, Control The Moment will control the win pool as the undefeated colt shoots for a fifth-straight win. The Alagna student, Racing Hill, is from the early-season’s productive sire Roll With Joe and will offer a good price to upset.

Ideal Rocky will capture the obvious handicappers’ attention and they may be right to accept a low win mutual. However, Jimmy Takter’s youngster, Cruise Patrol, has a good shot at making the winner’s circle compared to what the public may support. Takter sends his frosh pacers out as sharp as his trotters but the crowd doesn’t back them equally, leaving worthy bets aloft.

In the first of the Eternal Camnation duo, a trio of provence-bred winners meet a New Jersey gal and the latter gets the focus for us. Blue Moon Stride is four for five and is bound to be bet less than the hometown gals as Canadian harness loyalty kicks in. “Blue” is one of two fillies by Rocknroll Hanover, while all the other sired horses are from Canada. JK Fannie is the other U,S.-bred and Nancy Johansson sends her out. A New Jersey exacta is not a stretch for a price.

Top-earner LA Delight should take the most money in round two. Johansson has another filly player, Darlinonthebeach, here and she should be firing early and may be able to take this group all the way from the front, wearing out the favorite in the process and paying well. As the crowd handicaps from the brief history of these pacers, we look to cash in on the future improvements. Johansson is one to trust in that department.

Charlottetown ‘Cup’

We don’t get a chance to feature Charlottetown Driving Park in a feature category until this time of the season when its signature race, the God Cup & Saucer, comes to its final. Eight pacers of all ages are featured after their “trials” in the final on Aug. 22.

All eyes will be on the trials’ winners, Crombie A and Take It Back Terry but we like Lucan Hanover to upset. This guy has been a stalwart of the older pacing crowd in much better company than these and he made the final because he is tough. As a contender he will offer the overlay to the top two and that’s the way we like to roll, so to speak.

Tioga Tussles

Sunday. Aug. 23 at Tioga, the Empire Breeders Classic finals are featured. The $269,000 soph-filly pace is first. It’s another great case for Divine Caroline, who won her elim and certainly seems the best of these from a tough season losing by very little more than a few times at the wire. She could be favored but it’s difficult to look past her.

The glamour-boy pacers don’t have to face Wiggle here and the colt that ruined the Cane Pace for Wiggle is bound to be a favorite after winning his elim for this event. That is, as mentioned in another race, In The Arsenal. However, from post 8 there could be a price with National Seelster, who has seen some tougher company this season than the others.

Top older pacers line up six across for the $150,000 Roll With Joe Stakes. It’s the usual suspects led by State Treasurer, the division’s “now horse.” A serious contender here, though, will be Doctor Butch, Linda Toscano’s pacer that could benefit from some of the wild fractions expected and certainly may be the price that is most attractive.

H2W Legend

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.


8/22/15, +Frou Frou R4

8/21/15, +Meet Me Tonight R3; +Hf Nancy Babygirl R5; Capitol Hill R5; +Lust R9

8/20/15, Brief Bliss R6
8/21/15, +Oakrock Almighty R9; Meirs Hanover R12
8/22/15, For All We Know R12

8/21/15, Totally Ravishing R1; Don’t Worry B Happy R6

8/19/15, +Shesasmokinlady R1; +Fashion Katie R7
8/21/15, +Promisemethis R6
8/24/15, Go Go Jo Jo R6; Good By Alibye R7

8/21/15, Wegoferdaprize R3; Eye Just Expect It R7; +Emotional Blast R9; Naked By Nine R14

8/21/15, +Carmens Image R5; Jailhouse Juice R6; +Only In American ae R11

8/21/15, Bo Tox Hanover R10

8/20/15, Growly Gus R 3; +All Day Ray R5; +Chocolate Xplosion R6; Lindyaholic R9

8/22/15, +Bandolito R9; Deli Beach R14

Red Mile
8/20/15, Bellatricks R4
8/22/15, +Daggy R4

8/20/15, Heni R2

8/20/15, +Lady Julie R1; +Diamond Amber R3; +Shakin Friskie R4; +Last Flight In R4
8/21/15, Neat R1

8/20/15, Cobra Joe R2; Skip Jive R7; +Report For Duty N R10
8/22/15, +Dynamic Youth R6

Ray Cotolo contributes to each edition