Thursday harness preview

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Ted Black

November 18th, 2014

While many standardbred enthusiasts might find it too difficult to make any serious plays on Thursday evening with the two-day Breeders Crown festivities looming on Friday and Saturday evenings at the Meadowlands, serious harness racing fans will want to take a shot at several races on the Dover Downs card on Thursday.

Not every track has the same outlook when putting together its best cards and Dover Downs and Rosecroft Raceway are typically two of the exceptions. Each week Rosecroft offers its best cards on Tuesday rather than Saturday and Dover, which does not offer live racing on Friday or Saturday, schedules its top races for Thursday when the signal is most appealing to racing fans watching from other venues.

Now normally the Thursday card offers a bevy of value plays, but upon close inspection of the entries at Dover Downs there are two races that stand out and upwards of four horses are worth backing.

In the 10th, the Delaware Special for the top Delaware-owned pacers on the circuit, look for Bandolito (Darryl Bier) to finally regain his winning ways. Last week in the Special, Bandolito was hard used to make the front before reaching the half in a wicked 53.3, led the field down the backside and then was overhauled late by a pair of rivals in 1:50.3. He should be able to establish a much more reasonable tempo this evening.

Then one race later in the 11th, a non-winners of $100,000 lifetime class for younger pacers, a trio of horses arrive having all raced well in this split condition a week ago. All three raced very well in defeat in separate divisions of this class last Thursday, but as luck would have it they all drew into the same race this evening. Don't be surprised if they complete the triple, although selecting the winner is quite perplexing.

Ballinrobe (Allan Davis) was hard used to make the front in a 54.1 half last week, maintained an honest tempo down the backside and then was nailed late while settling for third in 1:52.4. Laughing Matters (Art Stafford, Jr.) encountered excess cover and a dull tempo while racing third over and rallying widest of all late to finish second as the 4-5 favorite in a split that went in 1:52.4. In the third split, Leyden (Davis) left, yielded, raced first over then was nailed late by Fire In The Belly in 1:52.2 in a solid try.

In the 11th race at Dover this evening, clearly a case can be made for Ballinrobe, Laughing Matters and Leyden. All three raced well in defeat last week and all three merit respect in this class this evening and throughout the meet. But other than boxing all three in the exactas in triples, the best flat bet prospect is probably the longest price of the trio in the latter stages of the wagering.