Stellar Mohawk Saturday card kicks off weekend of harness action

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Ted Black

September 14th, 2018

This weekend will offer serious harness racing fans a chance to see many of the sport's best trotters and pacers compete at various venues as many standardbred fans look forward to next Thursday's Little Brown Jug, the third jewel of pacing's triple crown.

Saturday evening Mohawk Park will kick off the weekend with a bevy of superb events, including several lucrative finals and eliminations for other stakes which will have their finals next weekend.

In fact, Saturday's first two races are the $40,000 eliminations for the $890,000 Metro Pace final for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings. Only five juveniles from each of the two elims will advance to the final, with the second elim coming up considerably tougher than the first.

The first elim features Stag Party (David Miller), who has won four of six starts for trainer Casie Coleman but arrives off a second-place effort in the Champlaign Stakes over the strip. While Stag Party looms the odds-on choice here and a cinch to reach the final, others such as Cruise Captain (Sylvain Filion), Shake That (Yannick Gingras) and Semi Tough (Matt Kakaley), who hails from the Ron Burke barn, will look to upset the choice and secure a berth in next week's lucrative final.

Then one race later in the loaded second Metro elim, Captain Ahab (Andrew McCarthy) will put his undefeated record on the line for trainer Tony Alagna against a solid group that includes Captain Crunch (Scott Zeron), De Los Cielos Deo (Gingras), Lyons Night Hawk (Tim Tetrick) and Goldberg (Montrell Teague). Captain Ahab has won all six of his starts and rates the leading juvenile colt pacer at this point, while fellow sons of Captaintrecherous Captain Crunch and De Los Cielos Deo have upset chances and Goldberg has ample ability for owner-breeder-driver Teague.

Then one race later in the $385,000 Peaceful Way final for two-year-old filly trotters, The Ice Dutchess (Gingras) looms the favorite for trainer Jim Takter following her sharp elim score and previous tally in the Jim Doherty final at the Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day. Sisters Promise (Tetrick), Evident Beauty (David Miller) and Susy (Takter) all have solid upset chances.

Then two races later in the $400,000 William Wellwood final for two-year-old colt trotters, Green Manolishi S (Tetrick) rates the solid choice following his six-length score in 1:54.4 in the elim mast weekend, while Swandre The Giant (Gingras) will look to rebound from his first career setback for Takter. Union Forces (Zeron) overhauled the Giant last weekend for a 33-1 shocker and gets another acid test to prove himself legitimate in the final.

Then one ace later in the first of two, $35,000 She's a Great Lady elims for two-year-old filly pacers, Trecherous Reign (McCarthy) looms the choice for Alagna against Sylph Hanover (Kakaley), Queen Of The Pride (David Miller), Ideation Hanover (Jody Jamieson), St. Somewhere (Gingras) and Key West (Brett Miller). Trecherous Reign has won four of six starts, while Queen Of The Pride has won five of seven tries while dominating the Ohio Sire Stakes fillies.

One race later in the $665,000 Canadian Trotting Classic for three-year-old trotting colts, Met's Hall (Andy Miller) will look to continue his winning ways when he faces Fiftydallarbill (Brett Miller) and Crystal Fashion (Tetrick). Met's Hall has won three of four starts this year and eight of 18 lifetime and the Maryland-bred son of Cantab Hall is in peak form, having won the Zweig and finishing second in the Hambo. Crystal Fashion won his Hambo elim but faded in the final as Atlanta beat the boys.

Then one race later in the second $35,000 She's A Great Lady elim, Quebec Blue Chip (Jamieson), Warrawee Ubeaut (Gingras), Tall Drink Hanover (McCarthy) and Prescient Beauty (Doug McNair) will vie for favoritism and all appear destined for the final. Quebec Blue Chip has won six of eight starts and banked over $250,000, while Warrawee Ubeaut owns four wins and $165,000 banked from six outings.

One race later in the $34,000 Preferred, Lazarus N (Gingras) will look to restore his moderately tarnished reputation when he goes postward as the odds-on choice against Te Kawau N, Rockin In Heaven, Nirvana Seelster and American Wiggle. Dubbed the 'Down Under Wonder' for his success in New Zealand, Lazarus N won his North American debut in the Dan Patch at Hoosier Park then was overhauled by McWicked in the Canadian Pacing Derby. He will seek to rebound in a much softer spot this weekend.

Then one race later in the $340,000 Elegant Image for three-year-old filly trotters, Hambletonian heroine Atlanta (Zeron) will once again face Hambeltonian Oaks winner Manchego (Gingras) and Oaks runner-up Phaetosive (Trond Smedshammer) in the most anticipated race on the card. Atlanta has won six of eight starts this year and 10 of 18 in her career and rates the division leader and front-runner for harness horse of the year honors although Machego, a winner six times in nine tries this year and sporting 18 wins and $1.4 million banked from 21 lifetime outings. Pheatosive is truly a worthy foe for both and looms a serious upset prospect.

Sunday afternoon Lexington's Red Mile will host eight, $250,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes finals for two- and three-year-olds of both gaits and genders. The Red Mile has opted to save the best race for last as Thinkbig Dreambig (Jordan Stratton) will tackle American History (Gingras) in the finale for three-year-old pacing colts.

That same evening Rosecroft Raceway will kick off its three-month fall meet with a trio of Maryland Sire Stakes elims and a solid overnight card that includes both an Open I for pacers and an Open II for pacers and another similar class for trotters. There will be four Maryland Sire Stakes final on the Wednesday, October 3 card and the feature event of the fall will again be the $100,000 Potomac Pace for free-for-all pacers slated for Sunday, December 2.

Each of the two previous editions of the Potomac have produced track record performances. All Bets Off (Kakaley) won the inaugural edition of the Potomac in 1:48,2 on a night when temperatures dipped into the upper teens. Last year, under far more moderate climes, Keystone Velocity Daniel Dube) prevailed over All Bets Off in 1:47.3 to shatter the all-age track record en route to that Rene Allard trainee being named champion older pacer for 2018.

Speaking of free-for-all pacers, eight of them will take center stage on Monday evening at Harrington Raceway when the Delaware half-mile oval hosts the latest renewal of the $150,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial. Defending champion Bit Of A Legend N (Stratton) drew post seven and missed his final tuneup, but Rockin Ron (Gingras) drew the rail and Yonkers Open regulars Somewhere In L A (Jason Bartlett), Evenin Of Pleasure (Joe Bongiorno), Scott Rocks (Eric Goodell) and Sunfire Blue Chip (Mark MacDonald) are on hand to tackle Indiana invader Endeavor (Trace Tetrick) who arrives with the most wins (10) and fastest mark (1:48.3) this year.

Also on the Quillen undercard, Harrington will offer the opening round of Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund elims for two-year-old pacing colts and pacing fillies, along with a $15,000 Open I and $12,000 Open II. DSBF star Slick Tony won the Open II last week in 1:51.4 and now steps up into the Open I to face the likes of Inforce and Options Areadream who were Open Handicap winners at Ocean Downs during the summer.