Sires-Stakes Sophs Meet In Season Start; Older Pacers, Trotters Chase Cash Over Kentucky Derby weekend

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

May 4th, 2017

Things are becoming busy in the stakes-features department. We are heavy in harness on Kentucky Derby day as most tracks simulcast “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” Look for our coverage of the Saturday events from the East, including Pennsylvania Sires Stakes for glamour-boy pacers, to the Midwest, including top trotting mares at Miami. 

The Hambletonian Trail blog begins this weekend with the traditional start of the three-year-old trotters aiming at August. Read about betting the Dexter Cup and Lady Suffolk at Freehold on May 6.

And again, pay close attention to the weekly H2W (the horses-to-watch) list. Do your own handicapping, and then compare and consider our selections when betting.


Pennsylvania Sires Stakes (PASS) opens a long and fruitful season on May 6 at the Meadows with soph-colt pacers, including debuts from some former frosh headliners. The first PASS ($37,820) is a field of seven, most not staked to the bigger events of the season. The public won’t research what these colts have to lose or gain in these state-bred affairs, so driver and post position will be more important to the reasons for their support. This being the Meadows, driver Dave Palone will suck up many dollars on any horse he drives. In Division 1, therefore, a price on Fear The Dragon should steer a bettor to his side. Also, the debut of Photobomr Hanover needs attention.

Division 2 ($37,820) also presents seven on the gate, with three colts in their debut appearances. More brand-name trainers and drivers should guide dollars to the pools, while we look around the obvious. Joe Holloway is too often left off of the brand-name trainer list, though much to a player’s benefit, so his entry here, Machiavelli, may come up valuable against entries from Ron Burke and Jimmy Takter. This colt has 10 races to his soph experience already and has cashed in more than 50 percent.

Another seven go in Division 3 ($37.820) where debuts the great colt hope, Huntsville, at three. From post 1 with a frosh resume that spills earnings from its sides, Huntsville will be soaked with support, especially since trainer Ray Schnittker puts Tim Tetrick aboard (at press time Tim is also listed on two other horses). A price on Stealth Bomber is guaranteed and he is worth an investment having five soph races already, a bunch of money earned and the prospects to become even better at three. Trainer Tony O’Sullivan deserves the attention but, again, the public will feel more confident with Burke, Takter and Schnittker in this case.

Division 4 ($37,820) features the start of the season for Downbytheseaside, highly rated from his frosh campaign for trainer Brian Brown. Another seven are offered and more brand names send some. Burke has Normandy Beach in it and that one looks for a second win after a positive debut. Schnittker sends second-stringer (to Huntsville) Summer Side out for his debut and he may be better than his stable mate for all we know now. Chris Ryder’s Rough Odds may be the best shot for a price. This may be a walkover for the obvious but if we want to shake things up—as we always do—it’s Rough Odds or a pass. Your call. 


Two $50,000 divisions of the 2017Graduate Series get the four-year-old-pacer parade of stakes going at The Meadowlands on May 6. Last week we handed you Western Fame, who once again raced far better than his odds for a good win in his first conditioner as a four-year-old. He won’t be as juicy a price this week in the small field of six that is wide open by all measures.

Roll Away Joe is ready to challenge, coming off of a strong-priced win, too, and Awesomeness looks for a better trip and has what it takes to take this group for a few bucks. Artmagic could wind up the best price among these even though his chances for a win need to be addressed. He was right behind Awesomeness in a Sagamore leg and made two moves in the final that qualify as a tough-trip excuse (at 46-1). Here he can prove he belongs in the first tier of four-year-olds.

In Division 2, seven hit the track, including the surprise “Levy” loser, Missile J. The mile track may appeal to him for a revenge mile that will offer a decent price among the more popular colts from the soph crop last year, including Check Six, JK Will Power (who just missed last week, Boston Red Rocks and the debut of Lyons Snyder. Taking on his own age group, Missile J may offer odds better than his chances while the public invests in the usual suspects new to the division.


Ten stalwart sidesteppers aim for the largest purse the division has offered yet this season in the $200,000 Arthur J. Cuter Memorial. Make note that the distance of this event is 1 1/8 mile. Some of the popular ones return for another campaign against the aged crowd, including Resolve, coming off a great qualifier for trainer Ake Svanstedt. One time or another Resolve has left most of these in the dust but we have been fortunate enough to hit on a few that have defeated him here and there (Obrigado, for one, who is not involved in this event).

Who, then, can give Resolve a defeat as his six-year-old season dawns? It could be a few, if Resolve is, simply, short in his first race of the season, but price-wise we would look for a strong effort and reward from Musical Rhythm. No stranger to upsets (some from the outside and here he is in the 10 hole) and with a great win percentage, all the race has to do is set up for him, which is not a stretch to hope for as there will be shuffling while Resolve attempts to take them around start to finish, which he may not be able to do easily in his first big start. 


The $50,000 Van Rose Memorial Invitation at Pocono on May 6 reunites some foes from the “Levy” series—a few veterans that didn’t race in the 2017 edition. A field of nine will go behind the gate, including some early speedsters. With Mcwicked getting post 2, lots of money on him could allow for some bulging prices on much better horses, ones that will take advantage of Mcwicked’s short-sighted speed, even though they leave to his right.

Rockin Ron once again draws outside with the 8 hole but there is one less turn here, in addition to a lickity-split inside rail path that opens in the short stretch. “Ron” can leave quickly and find a spot to complement his chances using the lightning lane while speed fades. Soto may have a longer journey, unless he finds the better spot and can charge late. Both should promise prices blessed by the Mcwicked fractions, themselves compromised by Sunfire Blue Chip and Mach It So, if not more.


Sunday, May 7, Miami Valley presents the $86,400 distaff trot for mares. Super-mare Hannelore Hanover hopes this, her 2017 debut, starts her on a long string of wins and earnings, which is nothing unusual to the mare that has often easily beaten the males. Her backing will be strong, especially from locally-bred Churita, from the rail, who has a two-win streak going in the new season.

Christopher Beaver’s Kestrel could be the surprise winner with a strong price coming off of her first start and first win of the year. She is raring and ready to be among the top trotting mares this season and to beat Hannelore Hanover this early is going to be worth it to her and moreover to bettors.

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.


5/6/17, Badgirls Hanover R3; Magical Alex R6; Aint No Mo R7

5/5/17, +VIP R7; +Jim Dandy R9
5/6/17, Mcturesque R1; It’s A Good Thing R8

Cal Expo
5/5/17, +Soul Diva R4
5/6/17, +The Lehigh Legend R3; Ragins Flight R7

5/6/17, Woodmere Dancenart R1; +Cabo Pan Lucas R5; +Beechwood Tiger R10

5/7/17, Leonardo Da Lindy R7

5/5/17, +Catalyst R5

5/4/17, My Sugar Daddy R5; Rosietellthetruth R8

5/6/17, Rock It On Out R7

5/5/17, +Won For Gigi R7
5/8/17, Clara Bea R1

5/6/17, Getting Rowdy R1; +Charlie B R2; PL Adder R5

5/4/17, +God Forbid N R14
5/5/17, +Alwaysafirsttime R1; Moments Of Joy R8

5/4/17, +Kennel Browser R2
5/5/17, Pembroke Newt R5; Burl Hanover R8

5/6/17, Splitsville R6

5/4/17, +KZ Crazee R10
5/6/17, +The Green Knight R3

5/6/17, +Color Palette K R7
5/7/17, Lucy From Hebron R3

5/5/17, +Wagon Master R1; March Awareness R5; +Know It All R9; Perfect Road R10
5/6/17, +Spinarama R1