Sunday harness preview

Ted Black

November 28th, 2014

While many sports enthusiasts might wake up on Sunday morning looking forward to the full slate of National Football League games that will kick off at 1 p.m. and end around midnight, serious harness racing fans will get their day started early and also continue to make plays well into the evening.

Each Sunday morning at Yonkers Raceway, the cards begin with five events for trotters all contested at one-mile and one-quarter over the New York half-mile oval. Both the early post at 11:10 AM and the added distance races offer a change and a challenge to onlookers and participants as the card gets simulcast to France where the trot races take center stage and the incoming revenues have averaged over $1.5 million.

Sunday's opener is the weekly featured $35,000 Open Handicap for trotters, but the second race appears to offer the best value play of the card. Sevruga (Andy Miller) raced well in defeat last week in a similar, non-winners of $26,500 last six starts condition and figures to improve off that effort. Sevruga, who sports a modest 3-4-3 slate and $160,000 bankroll from 20 starts this year, began the season by facing the best older trotters in the land and has ample back class to beat this group at a 5-1 price.

Sunday's feature several hours later at Harrah's Philadelphia is the $25,000 Winners Over Handicap in which all eight post positions were assigned. Last week's Open winner, Dial Or Nodial gets assigned the eight hole, but the play here is the talented and versatile Mach It So, who was the beaten 9-5 favorite in the Open last week. This PJ Fraley trainee owns a solid 8-4-1 slate and $220,000 bankroll from 22 starts and boasts a stellar mark of 1:48. He should make immediate amends for last week's modest failure as the public choice.

Then Sunday evening at Dover Downs, the feature is the $25,000 Progress Pace preview for three-year-old colt pacers, with all eight participants returning for next week's $250,000 Progress final. Last week's Breeders Crown hero, McWicked, boasts 10 wins and $1.3 million banked in 21 starts this year and may have already secured divisional honors. But JK Endofanera, who has won 10 of 18 starts and over $1 million this season for trainer Ron Burke, will be looking to rebound from a modest, third-place effort in the Crown last week. Messenger Stakes winner All Bets Off, a winner 11 times in 16 starts this year for Burke, will look to regain his winning ways in the preview and the final.