Solid Stakes Weekend: Molson Pace, Art Rooney Lismore; Philly Fiesta Features Betsy Ross

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May 25th, 2017

Take out your white pants because the Memorial Day Weekend is upon us to confirm such apparel meets the season’s approval. Rain or shine, harness racing is packed with action and we are ready to meet the challenges with our exclusive acumen for producing profits.

Sires stakes in New Jersey (NJSS) continue with leg two for the soph colts and fillies. The pacers are analyzed in this blog, while the trotters become the focus of this week’s Hambletonian Trail blog. More Hambo hopefuls pop up in Currier & Ives action as the weekend begins, too.

Friday night the Molson Pace finds older pacers firing their best strides for one of Canada’s great early-season events. Saturday the sophs are at it again, this time at Yonkers with the Art Rooney Pace and the Lismore finals. Then, Sunday’s patriotic weekend theme explodes in Philly, where America began, with pacing mares in the Betsy Ross and older trotters shaking the oval in the Maxie Lee.

The action doesn’t end there and this extended weekend brings more to Monday. Players continue to pay close attention to the weekly H2W (the horses-to-watch) list for solo wagers, single-race and multi-race exotics. Choose wisely, do your own handicapping, and then compare and consider our H2W selections when playing your bets. Of course, remember to be fully armed with a plentiful TwinSpires betting account.


Here come the stalwart older pacers again, pounding their hooves to the tune of $150,000 at Western Fair for its premium event, The Molson Pace. Eight familiar names meet at the gate for the mile race, the feature on Friday, May 26. This race is an invitational and the acceptors are either millionaires or teetering on the brink of such milestone earnings.

The only $2-million earner is Clear Vision. He is no stranger to the half-mile from any post, having the bulk of his past performances zooming over and through the tricky four turns at Yonkers. Fool Me Once replaces Soto (you recall him from the “Levy” series), who withdrew due to a foot injury. “Fool” has been on a rampage at Mohawk, winning three straight.

Rockin Ron is back, stuggling a bit at four, he has been in tougher fields than this, though he is one of the two weakest earners here, the other being Rockin In Heaven. That one is hardly “on fire” this season and will meet a lot of talent he has never seen the likes of before.

Last year’s winner, Evenin Of Pleasure, is here again but that was a gratuitous win, his winning late charge set up perfectly for him. He won’t be afforded such charity from this group.

A strong concern is Sunfire Blue Chip, a Jimmy Takter-trained pacer who seems to be getting better with age. At three he was a tough challenger and he kept racing, picking up checks and satisfying Takter enough to stay racing with the big boys. Considering the field, this could be a great spot for a great winning price on Sunfire Blue Chip.


NJSS pacers battle in leg two of the sires-stakes series on May 26 at The Meadowlands. Two splits, each worth $20,000, are on the program, one for colts and one for fillies. The lack of available horses is representative of the poor condition of breeding in the once affluent state.

The colts go first, all of them represented by products of If I Can Dream, a sire that no longer stands at stud in the state. There are only six to charge. Every Way Out won easily in the first leg and will get the bettors’ nod here, too, as the other five have all fallen to him. Getting a tougher trip as the second choice last week is Deo Galileo. He will obviously fit in the public’s second slot if not more closely share the top spot. We will go again with the fresh Indian River Ace, who still has to prove he is not up to the grade of the aforementioned. He finished fifth of six in leg one and probably needed that race. He was 46-1 in the sextet and that is too much considering the similar breeding and this being his second pari-mutuels race with more prospect to win than lose.

The fillies’ event offers 10 gals and more chances for good win prices. Last week we scored with Colorful Jasmine, though we demanded a larger price and she turned out the favorite. She will capture that status again here. Oddly enough, Colorful Jasmine is the only product of a sire other than If I Can Dream, that being Philos Hanover.

Worth a look for value is Livingthedream, who busted at 10-1 in leg one. The race before that was a tough conditioner at Tioga. She was lightly raced at two and if she stays flat could be much trouble for “Jasmine” and Ron Burke’s Ringing Ofthe Bell, which suffered a tough trip last week, and Wonderful World, which is stuck leaving from outside post 10 (at The Meadowlands, remember, the second tier starts with post 11).

The $300,00 Art Rooney Final at Yonkers on Saturday, May 27 is among the largest for glamour-boy pacers thus far this season. We don’t know how many of these sidesteppers we will see as the heavier pursed stakes come along but for now, this group represents the division’s most promising few.

The best of them is allegedly Downbytheseaside because of his 10 wins in 15 starts and his easy victory in the lone elimination last week. There is no doubt he will go off at prohibitive odds. Whether or not those odds reflect the actual chances, however, must be proven. Downbytheseaside is no lock, for sure, and we want to be there for an upset.

A soft second or third choice should be Miso Fast, who was second in the elim as the third choice at 5-1. Last week’s second choice was Funknwaffles, mostly due to his driver, Brian Sears, who Yonkers’ fans buy into far more than they are rewarded.

We liked Summer Side and vote for an upset by this, Ray Schnittker’s soph that races in the shadow of the barn’s top praise, Huntsville. Summer Side could actually be better at three than Huntsville (who we beat last week in a rousing upset by Fear The Dragon). Summer Side made the final with Ray in the bike (he is here again), making two moves while trapped in a tight spot. From post 6 Ray may ooze the colt’s speed with strong cover, perhaps from Stealth Bomber, who will be all out due to getting post 8. Along with the favorite, these three could provide a healthy trifecta.


The “Rooney” counterpart is the $140, 770 Lismore final for the glamour-girl pacers. Agent Q should be the public choice by many dollars, especially since she easily won the first of two elims and the second elim featured three longshots on the board because the public choice broke at the gate and was eliminated.

Agent Q wasn’t the top choice in her elim, that status belonged to Tequila Monday, who tumbled home second after chasing Agent Q and others through the mile. Tequila Monday gets the 7 hole, leaving a clear path for Caviart Ally. Noel Daley’s barn appears to be cooking up a great season that will share a lot of wins among its residents. Caviart Ally was third going the overland route against the top two gals in the Agent Q elim and could square off nicely with a win at a good price in the final.


On Memorial Day Weekend’s Sunday, May 28, Philly harness presents a trio of $150,000 events in the spirit of patriotism and remembrance. It starts with the Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational, presenting open trotters. Eight go to post, led by top money-earner Taco Tuesday.

Charmed Life upset Hannelore Hanover in the last program at Miami, Tuonoblue Rex is three wins for three starts for Julie Miller and Burke’s Crazy Wow always gets strong backing. With all of that going on, we have to look at JL Cruze, who began this season as if he was going to trot the way he did a few seasons back. He has raced three times, won a race and took third in the other two. He will offer some cash in the win pool and maybe not for long—if he returns to true form soon, his odds will dip concurrently, so take him now.

Next the Betsy Ross offers mare pacers a chance at a big pot. Lady Shadow versus Pure Country could be the promo slogan, since the former has been relentless and started this season with a win and the latter was a strong soph dominatrix in her division. But the heat is on for sure, since there are others here that can shake up the results. Down a rung or two on the class ladder is Medusa, who should be looked upon as a contender and could provide a very good price among this group.

The tail of this triumvirate is the Ben Stafford Invitational Pace, with a few of the top older pacers and a few lesser known. Regardless of tailing off of late, Missile J gets the rail and will get plenty of backing. Support will also go to Rock N Roll World for a speed badge that still signifies one race rather than a lifetime of racing. All Bets Off and Somewhere In LA have records that will grab bettor attention. A gutsy play would be Great Vintage, Takter’s persistent older pacer that will promise a price. Why doesn’t Takter retire or sell this guy? Most likely because he has a strong conviction and sends him out to do damage each time. He would be a big upset here but not much of a surprise to Takter, just to the bettors who would never expect to get such a price from a Takter entertainer.

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.


5/26/17, Sinners Prayer R6

5/27/17, +Pennys Spirit R4

5/25/17,Fleurje R4; +Dusty Lane Jacob R5
5/27/17, Lexis Mandy R7

5/25/17, Da Chef R3; Life Is Good As R6

5/26/17, Our Dragon King R3; Atomic Art R5; We Rob Banks R6; +Mar Dream R7

5/25/17, Real Roknrol R5; Justlikeithought R6
5/27/17, +Holy Halibut R7

5/27/17, JJ Flynn R6

5/26/17, Ghosts And Legends R5; Bourbon Street Hanover R10

5/25/17, +Musical Rhythm R10
5/27/17, +Big Yellow R11

5/25/17, Art For Arts Sake R4; Themailwomen R6; Troon R9

5/27/17, +Power Everywhere R3; Always Sunday R7; Hot Cycle R12

5/26/17, +Dastardly Dick R2
5/27/17, +Kiss Me In French R1

5/26/17, +Concerto R13
5/28/17, Frost Damage Blues R9

5/26/17, +BJ Randy R1; +Pembroke Newt R4

5/28/17, +Go Daddy Go R9
5/29/17, +Star Studded Cast R10

5/25/17, +Chocolate Biskit R4

Running Aces
5/27/17, Broadway Jose R1; My Guiding Light R8; +Ragnar Rocks R8; Windsun T Bird R9

5/27/17, +Cruzing Hill R8; +Legacy N Diamonds R10

5/25/17, +Sure You Are R4
5/27/17, +Aint No Mo R2; +Pan Taylor R4; Hedges Lane R7

5/25/17, +Major Nemesis R2; Rosas Touch R4; RM Imp R10

5/26/17, +I Saw Red R4; +Jaipur R5

5/27/17, +Three Of Clubs R4