Saturday cards highlight horses with bright futures

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Ted Black

December 5th, 2015

With many of the stakes races complete across the landscape at most harness racing venues, a pair of races at two different tracks on Saturday night will highlight pacers who are winding down this season and perhaps poised for a successful one ahead.

Midway through the Yonkers Raceway card on Saturday night a full field of eight horses will go postcard in the 4YO Open Handicap. As the name implies the two best horses have been assigned to the outside.

Assigned post position eight on the outside is Always At My Place (George Brennan), a very talented sort trained by Ron Burke. In 21 starts this year, Always At My Place has posted 14 wins, including a handy 1:52.3 score here two weeks ago in this event.

Always At My Place has dominated the 4YO Open in his occasional arrival on the scene and he has also fared well against older horses in Invitational events at other venues and looms one of the genuine rising stars among older pacers next season and the potential heir apparent to Foiled Again in the Burke barn.

Just to his inside is Melmerby Beach (Jason Bartlett), a recent $185,000 Harrisburg sale purchase by owner-trainer Ettore Annunziata. Last week Melmerby Beach led throughout to capture this event, one week after finishing second to Always At My Place. This could be the beginning of a prolonged rivalry.

While the 4YO Open might appear to be a match race on paper, do not entirely overlook VIP Bayama (Pat Lachance), who will start from post two. VIP Bayama exits the $75,000 claimers where he had no chance from post eight. He had won three non-winners conditions in his previous four starts and could split the favored exacta.

That same night at Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland, Elusive Point (Donald Dancer) will seek his fourth straight victory while starting from post two in the ninth race. A three-year-old Art Major gelding trained and co-owned by Dancer, Elusive Point has won four of nine starts and earned roughly $12,500 since Dancer purchased the former Burke trainee for $18,000 at The Meadowlands sale. It seems like only a matter of time until he surpasses his purchase price.