Sophs ‘Somewhere’ Prep For ‘Cup’; Graduates Go North; Chicago Steps Up Stakes; Indiana Sophs Soar

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

May 31st, 2018


As we leave May behind, June begins with more serious approaches for glamour-boy-and-girl pacers. Aside from two events—the Graduate and Battle Of Lake Erie—all of the sport’s major features during the first weekend in June are sophomore-related. It makes this weekend start for us on Thursday and go through Saturday.

Even soph trotters on The Hambletonian Trail will be busy as highlights. Our specific “Trail” blog posts report on those events as the colts and fillies compete for their dollars and we offer opportunities for players to compete for one another’s wagering dollars.

The suggested contenders in the TwinSpires exclusive horses-to-watch (H2W) list are growing in numbers. Explore these possibilities for use in any wagers of your choice. Do your own handicapping and then consider our H2W selections.


The Indiana Sires Stakes (INSS) finals begin at Hoosier on Thursday, May 31, with one of many $75,000 events. This one is for soph-colt trotters and it includes a $20,000 companion consolation.

It is impossible to spend much time on this race, since a “key” colt is one that has gained national attention at two. One of our winners supported in the 2017 frosh-colt Breeders Crown final, Fiftydallarbill, leaves from post 1 in this event, towering over the other nine. Either go for exotics or let this one go to those who care to cash win tickets for pennies (in the “Crown” he paid double digits to win).

Most odds beyond the Crown winner will be upwards of 10-1 and we think among them, Katkin American, may help inflate an exotic. With the 8 and 9 posts holding obvious second- and third-place candidates, Verlin Yoder’s colt, once out and once second, has not proven to be a repeated loser.

Ten go in the consolation and Ron Burke’s Jesmach Oasis is bound to pick up the role as favorite. Unlike the main event, here we put up a stake to support an outsider. Robert Taylor’s River Otter races for only the third time at three and could pick up his first win check this season against a few colts that have already showed signs of fading class.


Rescued from obscurity when Hawthorne supported harness racing after the deaths of Maywood and Balmoral, the Cardinal Stakes has been split into two $27,100 divisions for Illinois-Conceived-and-Foaled standardbreds. Those go on Friday, June 1.

Division one is another chance for our top-soph pick of the season, Fox Valley Gemini, to romp. Unfortunately, everyone in the Lincoln State knows that even from the 9 hole, “Gemini” is the definition of unbeatable if he stays flat. For any decent exotic price you will have to use Talk About It, who hit the board once in three starts and has not proven to be a dud. There will be no decent offerings beyond that.

Division two should be kinder to value hunters. There are only three winners in 10 starters and they are no Gemini shoe-ins, so to speak. If the crowd penalizes Fox Valley Hijinx for leaving from the outside, Kyle Husted’s already sharp colt could post a surprise price, since it looks as if the crowd will go with Shooting Straight and Backstreet Lawyer on the inside. 


INSS finals continue at Hoosier on Friday, June 1, a $75,000 event for soph-colt pacers with a $20,000 consolation.

The pacers, like the trotters, are burdened with trying to beat one dominating character—Always A Prince. Seven wins in eight starts and $41,000 in earnings this season makes him the dead-on choice with only one true candidate for an upset—Shnitzledosomethin. That one may give “Prince” a few more ticks on the board considering how the public measures posts and that would be all we could hope for value.

The consolation offers a probable favorite in Rockin Billy but that one may be compromised by the 10 horse, Romantic Interest, and his odds will be worth the backing. 


Once a focal point of state-bred racing each season, the New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) has shrunk as fast as the Garden State’s breeding business. In the Friday, June 1 soph-pace filly final for $75,000, only five go for the reduced win percentage prize. As well, there is a standout—Hypnotic Tale. Linda Toscano’s filly has earned more than twice the other four, which is a large amount considering the purses for the legs wilted greatly, and has won three of four—three more than any foe. We will take a shot, however, with Cruzinforavictory, because she may offer more value than expected in the small field.


The $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie gathers seven familiar aged pacers in Northfield’s signature event on Saturday, June 6. Some of the big guns are here—not many. The hot horse is Rockin Ron, off of his sterling Canadian win on the half-mile London oval. If he has as much energy as that, this is no contest. However, “Ron” has four Achilles Heels and so we can bet against him here with confidence and certainly with the expectation of a good price from a good horse.

That good horse, at times underrated when he wins, is Bit Of A Legend N. He has eight starts, two wins, four seconds and a third, all of them against fields better than this from the “Levy” series. Here he may have a shot with a saved-ground trip and the hope that Missile J is going to seriously contest the lead from Ron.


At Mohawk on June 2, three Graduate divisions are spread throughout the evening. The first division is a pace for the four-year-olds. Back for another year after a somewhat disappointing season is Classic Pro. Among the eight, including two from Burke, we should give Classic Pro a shot early this season, in a spot where there will be a price on his head.

The second Graduate split is for trotters and a dozen have shown up, 11 wanting at Ariana G, who looked awesome winning at four and will be winging to wire this group, as most bettors will agree by backing her. We look to beat her, as futile as that may turn out to be, and we choose to make a try with Yes Mickey. The Ake Svanstedt-trained horse will have the 11 hole, second tier, and since this is such a crowded field, he could take advantage of a sheltered trip, which will help if Ariana G is challenged (they will go after her).

The last Graduate division is another pace, with eight at the gate. This is not the best of the older pacers, so bettors will go with brands from Takter, Burke (two) and local Moreau. We are going to keep with Daiymir, who we looked for an upset from twice already. This race, however, considering its soft opponents, could develop in Daiymir’s favor and that would produce a cool price.


The unofficial prep for the North America Cup is right on time, as June begins and the sophomore-race season is in full swing. On June 2 at Mohawk, the largest number of soph pacers to assemble for racing on one program goes in three $60,000 splits. The Somebeachsomewhere trio is a sturdy audition for the “Cup” elims.

Division one features a pair of former frosh notables—Grand Tetron and Nutcracker Sweet. Both were six-digit earners at two and lead in that category from the other eight. As well, both are from the Takter barn and expected to be public choices. Casie Coleman’s highly touted Summer Travel will get strong local support.

We will be looking for a sharp performance from Scott McEnery’s Simple Kinda Man. In a crop that is ripe for an emerging star, “Simple” may have the elements to be far more popular after his improvement shows in this effort (so we would like to sensationalize on that price).

Division two offers another local that will pick up dollars—Lather Up. He comes from the Clyde Francis group and has been turning heads at Mohawk with his speedy wins—three in three starts. Takter’s Pro Beach could get support in this field of relative unknowns based on it being Takter’s colt.

Jack Moiseyev has a soph worth early attention: Mission Three is aptly named for a colt on his soph campaign. Moiseyev knows he is dealing with some talent and has opted to try it out in the division’s big league. This is worth a shot from the veteran horseman connected to Precious Bunny some years back.

All eyes in the third division will be on Lost In Time, the volatile leader of the division thus far. At two he won $600,000-plus. He comes into this race for Takter having lost his first affair at three. Co-starring is Pedro Hanover, who earned about $300,000-plus. Is there a surprise soph in here?

We say you keep your eyes on Jimmy Freight. The Rich Moreau-trained soph is in top hands. Moreau is sending out strong contenders and some, like this, may go under the radar for a while, at least. “Jimmy” has not met his peak by any means and this is the time to aim your bet at him, as the odds will be on your side.

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.


6/1/18, +Rock Baby Rock R4

6/1/18, +Ali De Vie R3

6/2/18, Crash My Party R7

6/1/18, +Bignprecious R3
6/2/18, Easy DC Does It R5; State Of Play R5

6/4/18, +Rock Proof R2

5/31/18, +Day Of Decision R3
6/1/18, Gabe Henry R7
6/2/18, +Ernie The Mooss R7

5/31/18, +Felona R7
6/2/18, +Blues Queen R4; +Makers Mass R5

6/1/18, Pinkman R6
6/2/18, +So Confused R3; +Cindys Party Boy R4; Beyond Delight R5; Quality Bud R8

6/2/18, Montana Pablo A R9
6/4/18, Bellows Binge R4

6/2/18, +Internet Hanover R10

5/31/18, Roy E Lizbin R3; Tim Lizzie R6

6/2/18, Tigers Sue R3; Da Vinci Artist R5

6/2/18, +Bearly Behavin R1; Airguitar Rockstar R4

6/1/18, +Lil Miss Gorgeous R3

5/31/18, Platoon Seelster R5
6/1/18, +CR Hotshot R1; Kentucky Nick R5; McElodian R8

Running Aces
6/2/18, Swagasaurusrex R2; Tap My Feet R5
6/3/18, Onemorenweallgohome R5

6/1/18, Gina Grace N R5; Miss Irish Rose A R7
6/2/18, In The Huddle R5

6/2/18, Real Yankee R2; +Shuttletruth R9
6/3/18, Cherry Crown Jewel R2; +Blue Fin R5; Ricks Sign R9

6/2/18, +Barnabus R9

6/2/18, Rose Run Rudi R2; Muscle Jared R7

6/2/18, Tundra R8