Surge Of The Sophomore Pacers: Grand Circuit At Yonkers Ensues; Meadowlands Starts Soph Series; Another ‘Cup’ Coming

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May 10th, 2018

The second weekend in May brings out a swarm of fillies and mares that are now sophomores. We are involved with their development, banking on some to show they will thrive before the crowds bet them into oblivion. Grand Circuit stakes get hot, with Reynolds Stakes for pacers at Yonkers and check our other blog, The Hambletonian Trail, for the colt-and-filly trotters in their Hambo-eligible divisions. Those groups are swelling with North American activity.

Filling out the weekend, we begin on Thursday, hitting the multi-race exotic Pick 3 at Philly with eyes on a bigger prize than the general public would normally offer.

Plus, special notes on the Confederation Cup elims for Sunday, May 13, at Flamboro.

And more, of course, as the TwinSpires exclusive horses-to-watch (H2W) list piles on the punting possibilities with serious considerations for bettors to use in any wagers in which they engage. If you know the program then go to it—do your own handicapping and then consider our H2W selections.


Philly / Races 3, 4, 5
Thursday, May 10

Let’s take another P4P shot starting the weekend with a personal feature this week, returning to Philadelphia, for a Pick 3 ticket.

Leg one, Race 3
Rich Secret has a great shot in this F&M conditioned. These are volatile performers at this stage of the season, yet, Rich Secret stands out some with two strong trips , one at Philly, and a glowing chance to break her maiden at last. Also a danger is the non-losing-proven So Long Darling from Indiana. She should get some betting attention since her lack of experience is a plus under these conditions.

Leg two, Race 4
This is a terrific outside-contender race and we found the perfect specimen, sitting with a 20-1 morning line (ML). Chris Ryder’s Braley Hanover was full of pace with a three-call overland journey last week leaving from post 8. From post 7 this time she may be able to save some ground and race more like the favorite she was in her first two efforts at Philly, where she just missed.

Leg three, Race 5
A few step-up entries here should get enough attention to leave valuable odds for Keystone Nikki. Her three performances at this level are enough experience to thwart the others. “Niki” had raced very well at Philly and in her last effort she went off at 3-1, fair by comparison with what the crowd will do in this event, where she may be a strong bargain. 


At Yonkers on Saturday, May 12, six divisions of the Reynolds Stakes bring the Grand Circuit to New York, offering soph-filly-and-colt pacers. The girls go first on the stakes-laden program, with purses of $21,000-plus on the line for each division.

Division one offers no top earner as a frosh in the top 50. Brand-wise, there is Betterthangraduate, from Ron Burke, guided by a track star driver, George Brennan. That trio should attract some big bets even though it is zero for two. Geremel Hanover is the most experienced with seven races to her name and two wins and places, with driver/trainer Steven Nason in the bike. We recommend Pelican Blue Chip, who has been second twice in as many races and finds a perfect spot to take her first win of the season, perhaps at a fair price.

In the second Reynolds for fillies, eight soft-earners at two, three in a debut at three, take the plunge. Burke debuts Python Blue Chip and Nancy Johansson sends Ella Is Awesome to her first mile at three, while Linda Toscano’s KJ Bekah goes her first time as a soph. The public may enforce the chances of Betterthanbrie, a Betterthancheddar filly in the hands of Jimmy Takter that appears to be a true speedy type. Our fancy is Presto Blue Chip, who has hit the board in all three of her appearances and has the third-largest bank account.

The last of the filly triptych presents one of last year’s top frosh earners, Reign On Me, a Nifty Norman trainee that sucked in over $203,000. None of the other eight in this field are in 2017’s top-50 frosh-earners list. Burke and Brennan unite again, this time with Jewels Forreal (top earner in the division this year so far). But, one of the top three choices in the betting, Dolphin Island, could go off fairly pricey and stands a far better chance than most will measure. That’s our gal.

The glamour-boy pacers’ trio of divisions, each worth $23,066, follows. In round one there should be no doubt Jersey Jim will control the majority of the bets. He’s a $177,000-plus winner as a frosh, 23rd on the list of 50. He is expected to step into his soph uniform with an easy win. However, Winston should have something to say about that. John Butenschoen’s colt has been good in a pair of races and should be better in this one. If driver Corey Callahan picks the other horse he is listed to rein (Wes Delight), a less popular replacement could up the ante on the toteboard.

The next colt adventure features another frosh cash cow, Paprike Blue Chip. Butenschoen trains him and debuts the winner of $222,000-plus at two. The crowd will not ignore his towering class as he enters his soph campaign. Although post 7 is not a bettor’s favorite post to bet upon, I Soar Him First will get some money on his nose leaving from it. We will support Major Offense, who is showing some soph talent already for Mark Harder.

The Reynolds’ nightcap is another eight-colt field with no prospective stars from the frosh-earning list of ’17. Takter’s Decoy will attract bettors, having won his only start this year and Mach N Cheese, who has hit the board in eight starts so far will also get attention. From the rail, Heartbeat Hill, with the biggest bankroll of the group, will also have fans. Here’s a good shot—Lucky Leonard from Ray Schnittker’s barn. This guy was okay at two and has every reason to be better as a soph, hopefully starting with this appearance after one place in three starts.


On May 12, the Meadowlands begins a pair of sophomore-pace series to get more members of the division riled up for the big stakes to come. These initial legs are merely $12,000-plus each. In order of their appearance on the program, here are some quick comments about our contenders in each of the splits.

Escort, soph-colt pace, division one
American Vision may not get the respect he deserves from his early soph season, as the crowd may heavily favor Delaware Chrome and split the differences with Life Happened so we will stick with American Vision.

Rainbow Blue, soph-filly pace, division one
Ross Croghan’s Nurse Pie Q may be looking at a powerful season and pace her way into the upper tier of this division starting with this race and perhaps dominating the series.

Escort, soph-colt pace, division two
Nifty Norman has two colts here—Van Helsing and Joe’s Life. The latter is zero for three but comes from a better family and will offer better odds here as the one with the shortest bankroll.

Rainbow Blue, soph-filly pace, division two
Noel Daley sends Ideal Talker, his sole entry, to her second soph event and it’s probable the crowd won’t back her as much as they will some more obvious and less-green sophs by three pair of trainers in this field of seven.


Fifteen four-year-old pacers go in two $20,000 splits on May 13 to decide the field for the $182,500 Confederation Cup Final at Flamboro. The top four finishing in each elimination, plus a fifth-place finisher drawn by lot, qualify for the May 20 “Cup.”

In the first elim, Funknwaffles comes from a Graduate leg at the Meadowlands where we had him and he finished fourth at 18-1. However, we will let him go for Luc Blais’ Hurricane Beach. Back at four, he produced some sharp miles last season against tough sophs and he may not be a strong public choice in this group of seven.

The other elim has eight going, with a possible big favorite in Burke’s Fillibuster Hanover. He came back at four with a vengeance and the crowd will be all over him here as they were last week, also in a Graduate leg. Burke also sends out Rock N Tony from post 8.

Of the others there may be a good investment in Clyde Francis’ Dalymir. He could have a strong four-year-old season, even when battling older, and he will be all out to make the final, which could lead to an upset where surely the price will be right.

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.


5/11/18, Rock Baby Rock R2; When In Doubt R4; +Camstar R5

5/12/18, Snapshot Springs R8; Royal Reception R10

5/12/18, +Torch Of Royalty R10
5/13/18, +Workin Them Angels R1; +Bettors Mark R8

5/10/18, Jeb R3; +Putnams Spitfire R4; Julep Hanover R10

5/12/18, +Lost A Sock R3

5/10/18, Spider Man Hanover R3; Master Faster R5; Crafty Xample R7

5/14/18, +Sagebrush Sid R3; +Truly My Way R10

5/10/18, Powerful Temtrist R4
5/11/18, +True Detective R4; +Real Sheila R10
5/12/18, Sheriff Coffey R3; Another Temptation R7

5/10/18, +Jetstream Mystic R3; Spirited Encounter R6
5/12/18, +Pennysfromheaven R5

5/11/18, +Karets R6; +Lovetap Hanover R7

5/12/18, +RJP R5; +Rockin Roger R12

5/11/18, Manofmanyimages R3; Reiki R4

5/10/18, Thisguysarockstar R2; Arts Dancing Devil R7

5/12/18, +Anegada R7; +Sand Sonya R8

5/11/18, Kick It In Kate R6; Hail Caesar R7

5/11/18, Lil Miss Gorgeous R6; +Do Your Job R12

5/10/18, Old Oak R3; Box Car Johnnie R5; Ugly Stik R6

5/12/18, Verdad R1; Appealing Art R4; City Hall R6; Cooperstown R11

5/10/18, Anja R6; +Steed R7

5/12/18, Dragon Seelster R2; Bin There Said So R5; Benjaminbanneker N R8
5/13/18, +Camtizzy R10

5/10/18, Mighty Rock R3; Yankee Moonshine R10

5/12/18, Rose Run Rudi R3; +Granite State R5; Busy Doing Nothing R12

5/12/18, +Frisky Joe R10
5/13/18, Atomic Tom R2; Fuzzylegsanall R6

5/10/18, Western Hill R11