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Ted Black

March 2nd, 2016

On Wednesday and Thursday mornings on the East Coast, both standardbred and thoroughbred racing fans will have the chance to see several proven stars compete as well as a number of budding stars, although not all of the races will offer wagering.

On Wednesday morning at Dover Downs, Wiggle It Jiggleit, the 2015 harness horse of the year, will make his unofficial seasonal debut in a qualifier - a race that offers no purse and no wagering - against six rivals. Last year's champion three-year-old colt or gelding pacer and pacer of the year, Wiggle It Jiggleit will make his four-year-old debut midway through the 10-race morning program. Starting alongside him will be another talented local pacer named Remember Me VK and those two should dominate the race from start to finish.

Wiggle It Jiggleit is among the bevy of standardbreds set to compete in the older pacing bracket this spring, summer and fall, with several other members of last year's three-year-old class, including Freaky Feet Pete, Wakizashi Hanover and Artspeak, also set to make their four-year-old debuts soon. Of course, the venerable Foiled Again has already appeared in one qualifier at The Meadowlands and the 12-year-old Dragon Again gelding leads a strong contingent of Ron Burke trainees pointing for the George Morton Levy Series at Yonkers Raceway later this month.

But those handicappers seeking some wagering opportunities will have to wait until Thursday morning when Meydan Race Course in Dubal offers another seven-race program designed as prep races for the ultra-lucrative Dubai World Cup card on March 26. The track will also play host to another round of preps this weekend on its annual "Super Saturday" card.

Thursday's second race in a seven-furlong affair on the turf where Pure Selection makes his three-year-old debut after winning four of six starts last year. While Pure Selection is undoubtedly the most talented runner in the field, he could be primed for an upset in his seasonal debut. Comicas, who has won twice in four starts, won his seasonal debut at Meydan and Calder Prince finished sixth in his local bow and could improve off that effort.

Then one race later even novice handicappers will be able to select the top three finishers in some order since only a trio of sophomore fillies are going postward in the Grade III, $250,000 UAE Oaks at one-mile and three-sixteenths on the main track. Polar River, who has won all three of her starts by a combined 32 lengths and is the Meydan version of Songbird, looms the overwhelming 1-20 favorite. Vale Dori, a Grade I winner in Argentina last year, makes her three-year-old debut, while Dolly Dagger has been fifth twice, beaten a total of 30 lengths, in two tries against Polar River.

Then one race later in the fourth, the Grade II, $200,000 Balanchine Stakes for fillies and mares at nine furlongs on the grass, Very Special appears the one to beat. This four-year-old filly won over the course in her seasonal debut ans owns a solid 3-2-1 slate from six career tries. Euro Charlie makes her five-year-old debut for Team Valor and should benefit the most from the outing, having earned $350,000 from four winless starts last year and sporting a 4-2-1 slate and $850,000 bankroll from 11 career tries. More Aspen has already won over the local course and could figure in the exacta if Euro Charlie is short in her debut.