Thursday harness preview 12/18/14

Ted Black

December 18th, 2014

On the day in which harness racing's trotter of the year, pacer of the year and horse of the year will be announced, owners and trainers will seek somewhat lesser acclaim this evening at Dover Downs during a deep. contentious 15-race card that appears to offer several value plays for those looking to pad their holiday bankrolls.

In the seventh race, a winners over $45,000 class for pacers that have not earned $100,000 lifetime, look for Something Blue (Jonathan Roberts) to post the mild upset in a race where Fire In The Belly (Victor Kirby) will be the odds-on favorite. Last week in this class, Something Blue raced first over into a quick back half and continued to battle gamely through the lane for a third-place finish. This Josh Parker trainee owns a 5-5-1 slate and $49,500 bankroll from 39 starts this year and his connections are hoping that his 40th outing will prove rewarding.

Two races later in the ninth, the Open for five-year-olds and under, look for either Millennium Wheel (Jason Lynch) or Invictus Hanover (Roberts) to forge the upset as Framed Art (Art Stafford, Jr.) seeks a repeat in this class. Both Millennium Wheel and Invictus Hanover exit the much faster split won last week by Handsome Henry K in 1:51, while Framed Art scored in 1:52. Varsity Hanover (Tony Morgan), the runner-up to Framed Art last week following a first over journey, is also worth using in the gimmicks as "The Crumpton Crusher" looks to regain his winning ways for owner-trainer James Whalen, Jr.

Then one race later in the 10th, the featured $25,000 Delaware Special for the top Delaware-owned pacers on the circuit, look for either So Take That (Montrell Teague) or Bandolito (Darrly Bier) to prevail, while last week's winner, Papa Ray, will seek to overcome his assigned eight post. So Take That and Bandolito both sought to rally from improbable spots last week while settling for second and fifth, respectively, in the Delaware Special. Bandolito owns the fastest mark (1:48) and finally draws an inside post, but he may have a difficult task attempting to outlast the late bid of So Take That this evening.

Then two races later in the 12th, a non-winners of five races lifetime class for younger pacers, look for Provenance (Trace Tetrick) to rebound from last week's fifth-place finish as the even-money choice to score here. Then two races later in the 14th, a non-winners of $12,000 last six conditioned event for older pacers, expect Only The Lonely (Tetrick) to work out a decent trip after he settled for third last week while racing first over into a solid back half. Tauranga (Roberts) also bears watching in this event, since his 1:51.3 lifetime score at Harrington Raceway perhaps indicates that a sub 1:51 mile in somewhere in his future at Dover.

Long before the first race in contested at Dover Downs at 4:30 on Thursday evening, novice and serious racing fans alike will know which horses have garnered the coveted title of trotter of the year, pacer of the year and horse of the year in harness racing for 2014. All of the division winners among trotters and pacers were announced on Wednesday with few surprises.

The unbeaten JK She'salady was the near-unanimous selection for champion two-year-old filly pacer, while Sweet Lou
[older pacer], McWicked [three-year-old colt pacer] and Artspeak [two-year-old colt pacer] won their titles easily. Although it has never happened in the previous 70 years of voting, my guess is JK She'salady becomes the first two-year-old filly pacer to earn both pacer of the year and horse of the year.

Among the trotters, Pinkman [two-year-old colt], Mission Brief [two-year-old filly], Shake It Cerry [three-year-old filly] and Sebastian K [older male] were easy winners, while Father Patrick edged stablemate Nuncio for the honor of champion three-year-old colt trotter. With a bevy of deserving candidates on the list, my guess is Shake It Cerry takes home champion trotter by less than a dozen votes over Sebastian K and Father Patrick, with Mission Brief also getting some support. But with the votes divided among champion trotter, the overall tally for horse of the year should go to JK She'salady.