Three-Year-Old Pacers Battle For Big Bucks In Sires Stakes And Art Rooney Elims; Trotting Graduates Face Ariana G; ‘Cup” Upset May Appear

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

May 17th, 2018

Mid-May Saturday action includes the return of some big names from 2017, including Ariana G and the harness press’s predicted best among glamour-boy pacers this year—Lost In Time, Stay Hungry and a few others. Some of the sophs are battling for berths at Yonkers in Art Rooney elims. In all the features, purses are pumped through Sunday with the Confederation Cup Final set to end the jam-packed day.

Our spin-off blog, The Hambletonian Trail, has trotting colts and fillies on tap in three states, with some great betting opportunities throughout.

More suggested contenders surface in the TwinSpires exclusive horses-to-watch (H2W) list. As usual, these possibilities are 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.


Pennsylvania Sires Stakes (PASS) offers three lucrative splits for glamour-boy pacers on May 19 as the sophomore season thickens with big purses. Each of these contests are worth $55,000-plus.

Division one features Points North, a $155,000-plus winner at two and one of two colts in this field on the top-50 earning list from last season. Nifty Norman sends his trainee into his second soph fray and will obviously get much support. Jimmy Takter gets his colt, Grand Teton, who made a bunch last year, on the track for the first time at three, while top-earner in the field for this season, Sometimesawinner, has lost only one in five starts.

The presence of those three could enhance the value of Whos Better, a Brian Brown entry with a win in two starts and every reason to improve just enough to make a winning impression here.

Division two presents three top money-winners from their frosh seasons. Pedro Hanover is the top earner, going for his first win in two starts. This Is The Plan has won his first two starts. And Closing Statement looks for his first win in a pair of starts. Then, there is Ron Burke’s Dorsoduro Hanover, already a winner of over $42,000 with a single win in a single start. His presence may increase the odds of Closing Statement, who should race better than his debut performance and offer a price worthy of investment, especially coming from post 7.

The afternoon’s last PASS brings out the potential stars of the glamour-boy division, according to their frosh resumes. Lost In Time (Takter) and Stay Hungry (Tony Alagna) are the top two frosh earners from 2017 and how the crowd separates them is your guess as good as it is my guess. Both debut here, as do the other top frosh earners Hayden Hanover (Julie Miller) and Nutcracker Sweet (Takter). Only one from the ’17 list has seen action and it has been productive action. Wes Delight has won two of three and placed once for Mark Harder, earning upwards of $40,000 as he meets the pundits’ projected heroes for the first time. The race leaves much to be predicted that cannot produce enough evidence for a good argument, so we look at the least obvious of the newer sophs and hitch on to Hayden Hanover.


Also at Pocono on May 19, the Great Northeast Open Series continues with $30,000 splits. In the first chapter we will back Bettor Memories again, after his competent finish third in the recent leg.

Division two is a good spot to back Mel Mara. From post 1, his return to the older ranks this season may include more front speed that could steal this event at a good price for trainer Dylan Davis, who didn’t give the horse any prep events before dropping him into this series—a good move is suspected.


On May 19 Yonkers hosts two eliminations for next weeks final of the $380,000 Art Rooney Memorial for soph-colt pacers. Each elim is worth $40,000. Then, the Lismore for the fillies surfaces with a single elim.

In division one of the “Rooney,” a five-horse field of virtual unknowns at two score as very even matches. None have raced more than twice at three and four of the five have already won a soph race. The brand name here is Takter, as Jimmy sends out Decoy and he should take a lot of dollars, having the fastest speed badge along with the brand.

Matinee Fashion, from the Jim Campbell barn, may turn out to be the second choice but he could turn the tables on Decoy, as he already is showing signs of improving at three and is in just as good hands as Decoy, though some would argue. Campbell’s youngsters demand attention they don’t always get, thus the price could be worthwhile.

In the second elim there are also five colts (five was the only and fairest way to break up the 10 entries into two contests). The focus will be upon Springsteen, a top winner of $192,000-plus as a frosh. Rene Allard’s colt is bound to be the favorite, even though he has not started at three yet, simply for being the classiest of the 10 colts entered. This season already, Babes Dig Me, from the Alagna barn, has banked $27,000-plus, and will get, most likely, the role of second choice.

Still, we have to turn to an outside contender for a price, so we will take Kwik Talkin. From Rob Harmon’s barn, Kwik Talkin is in a perfect spot coming from post 2, where he can salvage some ground while the others push the fractions. The four turns may trip up some of the speedsters here, causing some dueling and shuffling that will cost them precious space down the short stretch. Hoping for a “trip win” here will pay off.

The filly companion to the Rooney is the Lismore and because only nine entered, this is a single elimination worth $20,000 (the 9 hole starts from the second tier).

From the frosh’s top-earning list comes one soph filly, Reign On Me. She grabbed $203,000-plus in ’17 and looks to be Nifty Norman’s division-leading candidate this year. None of the others have such a resume, though a few are well connected to training brands.

Burke has two here—Jewels Forreal and Python Blue Chip and they will get support though neither has won yet this season. Campbell sends Alexa’s Power but the 8 hole will do her no favors getting attention.

Interest should rise from Brett Pelling’s Believe In Me. The noted trainer is back from his Down Under hiatus and this colt is the first youngster to be traversing the stakes arena. We like her chances a lot and Brett’s brand has not come back since his return, so we may get a good price.


The second leg of the Graduate Series, two divisions of four-year-old trotters for $50,000 each, is the main feature at the Meadowlands on May 20.

The first split, an eight-horse field, brings together some new to the division, including the great filly-now-a-mare Adriana G. A scourge in her division at three, Takter’s trotter opens her 2018 campaign among some male competitors also greeting the new season and new division. That duo is Lindy The Great and Sortie, both productive last season.

Bill’s Man lost his first ’18 event; New Jersey Viking has won two of four; Yes Mickey won his first outing; Dunbar Hall is the most active with four wins in seven starts and Fraser Ridge is the rank outsider.

Bettors will probably invest heavily in Ariana G, making her the favorite. There is simply no reason to think she has not, at the very least, maintained her sophomore strength and talent. If she is short first time out, it could be Yes Mickey nailing her and offering a decent price to backers.

The second Graduate split has a cast of seven, including a few unfamiliar sophs from last season that are putting on a shine so far at four. Take, for instance, Benoit Baillargeon’s Achile Duharas. He is five for eight and the field’s best earner so far. Todd Rooney’s Swell Chap has only lost one of four races. The other vague names include Lord Cromwell, Don Dream and Barn Bella, none of whom have had much to say in their few races this year.

The only returnee is International Moni. At three he was a victim of many bad trips and part of the tangle in the ’18 Hambletonian that disqualified What The Hill from first. He was tough through it all and when he won he did so with command. Does he need a race here? Not as good as “Moni” at three but shining late in the season is Moonshiner Hanover, who has already won both of his starts for Chris Beaver and leaves from the rail here. We like International Moni because if this were a soph race, he would be a strong contender and probably a favorite. Here we could see him win at a worthy price, since many bettors may shy away from his first start at four.


There is little doubt that succeeding at wagering in the 2018 Confederation Cup (CC) at Flamboro on May 20 is going to take some cooperation from the two huge favorites, Filibuster Hanover and Western Joe. Such cooperation means troubled trips, enough so that their journeys pave the path for a pricey winner.

Last week we searched the elims for upsets, only to come up flat. However, it was a few bad trips by the longer shots that ruined us, yet were overcome to wind up in the final field. One of our choices, Hurricane Beach, wound up sixth at 18-1 due to a tough trip, but in that same race, Funknwaffles (who we backed in the Graduate the week before the CC), in the same elim, made his outside trip count to get fourth at 1-1 and make the CC final.

In the other elim, our choice, Daiymir (8-1) finished fourth to get into the final despite interference that affected him and three others, including two longshots that took second and third. Daymir and Funknwaffles are the two in the CC final that could turn the race around in a win upset and certainly in league with either of the favorites in exotics. That’s how we will treat the CC final.

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.


5/19/18, +Benjaminbanneker N R4; Paris Beau R7; Nuclearccino R8

5/19/18, Screentest Hanover R4; Ali De Vie R6

5/17/18, Innocent Kiss R1; Bignprecious R3; +Jeb R10

5/19/18, Foolish Virgin R2; Piece Of The Rock R10

5/17/18, +Spider Man Hanover R7; Hetties Commander R8

5/17/18, Mighty Oaks Mandy R6; +Powerful Temtrist R6
5/19/18, +Another Temptation R5
5/20/18, +Bo I See Time R5; +Sheriff Coffey R10

5/19/18, +Nurse Pie Q R2; +Ideal Talker R4; +Ghost Pine R6

5/19/18, +Lyons Levi Lewis R12
5/21/18, +Rebel Soul R3

5/17/18, +Reiki R8
5/18/18, +Manofmanyimages R10

5/17/18, See You Smile R2; Rocknroll Delight R8

5/19/18, Right On Time R2; Spanish Dream R8

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

5/17/18, Explosive Ridge R8; +Rich Secret R12; +Braley Hanover R14

5/17/18, +Ugly Stik R3; Neverdies R5; Zorgwijk Nova R8

5/19/18, +Verdad R2; +Karets R14
5/20/18, +LA Delight R5; +Cooperstown R8; Crazy Wow R9; Agent Q R11

Running Aces
5/19/18, Sectionline Emery R5; Im Blue Too R6
5/20/18, Scramble Camp R1; Bringoverthemoney R1; Friskies Angel R5

5/17/18, Treasured Tina R4; +Anja R7; Chili R7

5/20/18, +Bin There Said So R9

5/17/18, War Chief R5; Barnabus R9
5/19/18, Lyons Snyder R7

5/19/18, Queen Adjala R1; Iaquinta R4; Thatsjusthowiroll R8
5/20/18, Sir Ziggys Z Tam R8

5/19/18, +Macs Black Hat R7; Atomic Tom R9

5/17/18, +Western Hill R4; +Lady Eagle R5
5/18/18, +Motu Moonbeam N R6; +Always At My Place R7