Stakes Still Rule Harness Racing Schedules

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

October 14th, 2020

There is no pause in stakes before the Breeders Crown. Selected Grand Circuit action, supplemented with state- and province-bred finals offer six-digit events for locals. We visit the tracks with the most money on the line as our features and escalate the betting possibilities with our never-ending TwinSpires’ horses-to-watch (H2W) list reflecting opportunities in the harness hinterlands.


Longer than the TV cartoon show, harness racing’s Simpson Stakes have been a part of the Grand Circuit. Philly offers a quartet of Simpsons for two-year-old filly pacers and trotters on Oct. 16.

The first of two filly-paces (both around $30k) offers six youngsters. We hope to back the Betting Line first-crop-sired Darby Hanover. Julie Miller is having a great season with her trotters and this pacer is also pumping profits with four wins in eight starts and only off the board once.

The second filly-pacing installment has five at the gate, and another Betting Line baby worth a look is Let’er Buck from the Ray Schnittker barn. The other four are well-bred fillies by well-known sires and certainly contend strongly in this short field, but the Betting Line babies are competing for cash with fervor. This sire is turning out better than we touted in our lockdown-essay on first-crop sires.

The trotting gals ($56k for each mile) begin with a field of seven headed by Love Muffin. She is a surprisingly profitable progeny from older sire Andover Hall. She out-classes this field for trainer David Wiest with six wins in nine starts.

The other trotting-filly split involves eight at the gate with one standout—Anoka Hanover. It is tough to look beyond her but we give an outside chance to Iglare AM. A daughter of Southwind Frank, she makes it the first time we recall seeing a Tim Twaddle-trained Grand Circuit horse. She has been lightly raced and if she improves upon her obvious stats, the leap of faith for an upset will seem like genius handicapping.


At the Meadowlands on Oct. 16, another Grand Circuit mainstay event, the W.N. Reynolds Memorial (WNR), is responsible for a single $61k, five-colt field on the program.

One outstanding feature in this frosh-colt trot edition of the WNR is that four of the five entries come from the Ake Svanstedt stable. The lone colt from another stable comes from Linda Toscano’s outfit.

Ake’s star in his quartet is the unbeaten (four for four) Captain Corey, who is the other outstanding feature because his sire is Googoo Gaagaa, a pacer. Though it is rare, now and again a pacer produces a trotter. Googoo Gaagaa has produced more than his share and most have inherited his incredible speed. Captain Corey has a mark of 1:53.3 on a five-eighths mile track, which is sterling for a freshman. He has already earned over $264k at two.

Unless he breaks stride—and a minor turn of foot won’t do his foes much good, it will have to be a full gallop that ensues—it is hard to envision an upset. This is a good event to watch some harness history—the pacing trotter beats the trotting trotters—rather than dip into your betting bankroll.


The super finals for two- and three-year-old Indiana-breds, each worth $270k, are the brunt of the Oct. 16 Hoosier Park program. We have selected our favorite finals among the eight divisions based upon proposed prices that are not public choices. Remember, however, that our choices are being made three full days before betting on those races begins and that public-choice winners come in quantity with these events.

Two-year-old colt trot
Walter Haynes, Jr.’s Illini Earl is lightly raced and still makes it to the big dance. This colt is just getting started as he ends his freshman journey and may make it a splash before turning into a strong sophomore earner.

Three-year-old filly pace
Even though Julie Miller’s Priceless has not collected much in finishing, the filly has raced nationally with better than these. She could surprise some bettors who do not consider her in this high-purse race, the kind Julie and husband Andy (who has traveled to Hoosier to steer) are good at nailing.

Three-year-old colt trot
Last week, Bluebird Deacon proved he is worthy of toppling the obvious foes here. Trainer Jay Cross has developed this guy well enough to make it in the Indiana-bred big leagues.

Two-year-old colt pace
We have been following Virgo on his way to this event and he is looking better each time. This is a good time for him to excel.

Three-year-old colt pace
Island Of The Sea will race better than last week and can beat the big favorite. Shane Bowermaster has proven this colt is as good as they come in the Hoosier state.


Northfield Park’s Courageous Lady for soph-filly pacers is worth $120k this year and features eight speedsters on Oct. 17 at the half-mile oval.

Brian Brown offers two femmes; his top earner, Pettycoat Business and one that impressed us at the “Jug” meet and at The Red Mile, Blazin Grace.

In a Bluegrass, “Grace” finished fourth, 3 lengths alongside other public choices chasing powerhouse-favorite JK First Lady. In that race, Grace went off an astounding 69-1. She has picked up purses through 15 races; six from win money and four from place or show. Grace may go off a lesser but worthy price here, too, first because of Brown’s other filly, Pettycoat Business. She is the field’s top earner, nine wins for 11 starts and a notch over both Ron Burke entries.

Burke’s Drama Act is bound to improve but will have to do it quickly, since she is strapped with Northfield’s 8 post on the four-turn track. Still, she will get a lot of action, more than Burke’s other entry from post one, Dance Club. Also dangerous, though needing some racing luck, is Perfect Storm (possible crowd choice?) who as of our deadline is one of two fillies driver David Miller has a choice to commit steering.
H2W Legend

Review our choices and confirm the wagers available at the prescribed track. H2W offers possible contenders researched from reviewing races. Horses’ names are listed beneath the name of the track with the date of their race and the race number (R6 ) follows. If a + is in front of a horse’s name, it appears on the list for the second time (horses are listed twice only if, at first, they failed to win. An “ae” signals also-eligible. Types of wagers to make are based on your judgment.


10/17/20, +Rearview Blue Chip R1; Brunello N R6

10/15/20, +Cray Bad K R3
10/17/20, +Random Task A R6; Deweydiddonegood R9; Persistent Threat A R10

10/17/20, Victorydaze Wilwin R1; Wicked Business R7

Oak Grove
10/15/20, Always Relentless R4; Little Ms Ayrss R7; Blood In Blood Out R8

10/17/20, Go West Go Fast R11; Alkippe R12

10/16/20, Sullivan R8; +Major Nemesis R9; +Dracary Z R12

10/15/20, Redemptionbluechip R2; Dirty Devil R3; College Hanover R4; Noble Woody R8

10/17/20, Boots Off R1; Cody Hanover R11

10/16/20, Tellem R2; +Haulin Cash R3; +My Partner Finn R3

10/15/20, Sweet Tea R13; Father Figure R13; Tymal Tullo R13

10/16/20, +Free Exchange R6; +Caviart Caterina R9

10/17/20, +My Lindy Winner R3

10/16/20, Torrid Bromac R1; +Southwind Moroccan R4
10/17/20, Show The Fashion R2; Italian Delight R2