Saturday Harness Preview for 8/16/2014

Ted Black

August 16th, 2014

While many thoroughbred racing fans will focus their attention on Saratoga Race Course during the day, many standardbred fans will quickly turn their thoughts to Saratoga Harness and Mohawk Racetrack in the evening as those ovals offer plenty of quality events.

As is usually the case during the day at its neighbor, Saratoga Harness actually earns top billing for the weekend since it will host the $260,000 Joe Gerrity, Jr. Memorial for aged pacers. While the group might be lacking the sport's dominant aged pacer, Sweet Lou, who earned the week off following his eighth straight score last Saturday at Hoosier Park, it contains many of the top free-for-allers in the land.

Although trainer Ron Burke opted to give Sweet Lou a well-deserved rest, the nation's leading trainer certainly did not arrive empty-handed. Burke sends out his second- and third-best older boys, Foiled Again and Clear Vision.

Although he is not on top of his game right now, Foiled Again (Matt Kakaley) is always a threat to succeed any time he sets foot on the track. The sport's richest pacer with over $6.3 million in earnings on the strength of 80 wins from 212 career outings, Foiled Again has not won since taking a George Morton Levy Memorial series leg at Yonkers Raceway in April. But he drew post four for this event and merits respect based on his lifetime achievements.

Clear Vision (Brett Miller), who generally begins to peak around this time each year, had the misfortune of drawing post position eight on the New York half-miler. Recent winner of the $150,000 Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield Park and hero of last year's Robert Quillen Memorial final at Harrington Raceway, Clear Vision has enough ability to overcome his post and any prolonged parked out journeys.

Looking to upend the Burke tandem are two horses from trainer PJ Fraley's barn, Fat Mans Alley and PH Supercam, the Levy final hero, and two other Levy finalists, Apprentice Hanover and Dancin Yankee, who will start from posts two and three, respectively. PH Supercam sports the highest earnings ($450,000), while Dancin Yankee and Apprentice Hanover are second and third on that list, respectively with 'Yankee' easily leading with 14 wins this year.

While the older pacers are on display at Saratoga on Saturday evening, Mohawk will turn the spotlight on the two-year-old pacers of both genders. Mohawk will offer three divisions of the Eternal Camnation for freshmen pacing fillies and three splits of the Nassagaweya for juvenile colt pacers. Any of them could provide the stepping stones to stardom for someone.

In fact, the first $76,000 Eternal Camnation split features the undefeated Happy Becky. A Maryland-bred daughter of Cam's Card Shark trained by Casie Coleman, Happy Becky has won all four of her starts to begin her career and will likely be the odds-on favorite to garner a fifth tally in a field where the Tony Alagna-trained Bedroomconfessions should offer her a test.

One race later in the second Eternal Camnation split, the unbeaten JK Shesalady seeks her fourth straight score and second open stakes tally against Cashaway, who has won twice in three starts for Alagna. Both captured divisions of the Tompkins Geers Stakes at Tioga Downs in New York last out; Cashaway in 1:53.1 and JK Shesalady in 1:54.

Two races later in the third Eternal Camnation division, A Plus arrives off a solid debut score at Vernon Downs against New York Excel company and gets an acid test here. Ideal Nuggets, third following a first over journey against Cashaway at Tiogo, owns the big edge in experience and merits respect despite her maiden status.

One race later in the first $90,000 Nassagaweya divisions for two-year-old pacing colts, Asap Hanover (Tim Tetrick) overcame a first over journey to win at first asking over the track last week, while The Wayfaring Man (Jack Moiseyev) has won two of three starts, including the Dream Maker final here. Dudes The Man drew well and has shown plenty of ability winning twice in four outings.

Three races later in the second Nassagaweya split, Traceur Hanover (Randy Waples) was an unlucky second behind Asap Hanover last out and gets the nod over railbound Amora Beach (Tetrick) who has won once and been second four times in five tries. American Legend drew outside but deserves consideration after trying two different tactics unsuccessfully to start his career.

Then in the 11th, the fourth and final Nassagaweya split, all eyes will be on the unbeaten Artspeak (Scott Zeron) who has won all three of his starts for Alagna, including a New Jersey Sire Stakes final at the Meadowlands and later a conditioned event over that oval in 1:50.4. Lyons Again was second last out against Pennsylvania Sire Stakes foes behind the ultra-talented Yankee Bounty, a recent addition to the Burke barn.