Trotters hightlight weekend cards

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Ted Black

October 9th, 2015

Thoroughbred racing fans are accustomed to seeing the best horses compete during the afternoon and standardbred fans are usually heading to the track during the evening to watch the trotters and pacers compete. But Saturday afternoon offers a twist on those plans.

Saturday afternoon both Yonkers Raceway in New York and Lexington Raceway in Kentucky will offer afternoon cards that highlight the trotters. Yonkers will present the $1 million International Trot on a special afternoon program that gets underway at 2 p.m., while Lexington will host the Kentucky Futurity on a card that kicks off at 1 p.m. and features several major stakes for trotters and pacers.

Yonkers is also offering a $75,000 guaranteed pick five pool that begins with the second race, a non-winners of $18,000 last five starts class for pacers. Players would be advised to use Sir Ziggy's Z Tam (Pat Lachance), Willie Boots (Jordan Stratton), Emperor Montana N, Fort Knox and Mr Hasani in this wide open affair.

In the very next event, 12 trotters will go postward in the $60,000 Open Handicap at the uncommon distance of one-mile and one-quarter. Melady's Monet (Jason Bartlett) won this event last week and gets post eight here, but needs to be used along with Luminosity (George Brennan), Zooming (Tyler Buter), Daylon Miracle (Daniel Dube) and Crazy About Pat (Brian Sears).

Then one race later all eyes across the globe - the race should draw plenty of pari-mutuel support from the European markets - the revived, $1 million International at one-mile and one-quarter will take center stage. The top trotter in the land, Bee A Magician (Sears) will once again take on the boys and this time they're coming from all over the world.

Creatine (Johnny Takter) is no stranger to the major races here and abroad, although this will be the five-year-old Andover Hall stallion's first start on a half-mile oval. The Jimmy Takter trainee drew the rail for this five-turn marathon and he should be in striking distance throughout.

Other serious major contenders in the International include Papagayo E (Ulf Ohlsson), Timoko (Bjorn Goop), On Track Piraten (Erik Adielsson), Natural Herbie (Verlin Yoder), Mosaique Face (Adrian Kolgjini), BBS Sugarlight (Johan Untersteiner) and Oasis Bi (Orjan Kihlstrom). Several of the trotters that drew the outside or in the second tier can expect to be parked the duration, but European races often unfold that way.

One race later in the fifth, a non-winners of $18,000 last five starts class for trotters traveling one-mile and one-quarter, Awsome Valley (Dube), Brickyard Toots (Ray Baynes), KLM Express (Jim Marshall, III), Cash Me Out (Tyler Buter) and Theraputic (Brennan) all need to be used in the pick 5 play, then in the sixth, a non-winners of $12,000 last five class for trotters, Kascara Rosa (Dube), Tober (Bartlett), Fico (Brennan) and New York Muscle (Brent Holland) should be used.

That same afternoon at Lexington, the famed Red Mile will host the Kentucky Futurity for sophomore trotting colts and the Kentucky Filly Futurity for three-year-old trotting fillies. Both events feature the leading candidate for divisional honors and those races, coupled with the result of the International, will start to impact the results of the voting for champion trotter.

Saturday's sixth race at Lexington is the first division of the $115,000 Tattersalls for three-year-old filly pacers. This division has clearly been suspect all season since reigning horse of the year JK She'salady has been one of the sport's major flops this season, but this event will help determine the division champ.

Bettor Be Steppin (Corey Callahan) was a sharp second as the 3-5 choice in last week's Bluegrass Stakes here, contested over an off track that proved hindering the speed horses. She likely turns the tables on Wicked Little Minx (Brett Miller) this weekend, who won the Bluegrass and is helping trainer Nancy Johansson ease the pain for JK She'salady's dismal campaign.

Then two races later on the card the other half of the Tattersalls for three-year-old filly pacers will go behind the gate. Divine Caroline (David Miller) won last week's Bluegrass as the even-money choice despite a first over journey, but could get overbet here. Look for Band Of Angels (Yannick Gingras) to carry her speed a long way over a fast track for trainer Ron Burke.

Then in the ninth a solid group of older trotters who may not have been quite good enough for the International will go postward in a $134,000 Open. Il Sogno Dream (Scott Zeron) arrives off a sharp win in the Dayton Trotting Derby last week and gets the rail, but Master Of Law (Brett Miller), Obrigado (John Campbell) and Flanagan Memory (Tim Tetrick) all merit respect in this spot.

Then one race later in the tenth the top older pacers on the continent will go postward in the $150,000 Allerage Farm Open and, like the trots that will follow, the race attracted the leading candidate for division honors.

State Treasurer (David Miller) has been the dominant force among aged pacers this year, winning nine of 16 starts and over $850,000 for trainer Dr. Ian Moore. He romped to a five-length score last week in the Dayton Pacing Derby in 1:48.4, to establish a new stakes and track record in that event and he will be difficult to overtake here at a short price.

But those looking for an upset could try railbound Limelight Beach (Matt Kakaley), Foiled Again (Gingras), Doo Wop Hanover (Campbell), JK Endofanera (Brett Miller) and McWicked (Corey Callahan). Doo Wop Hanover and Foiled Again, the sport's all-time richest horse with over $7  million banked from 240 starts, were both unlucky at Dayton last weekend and could rebound at very generous prices here.

Then two races later in the 12th all eyes will be on Mission Brief (Gingras) who waltzed to a five-length score over an off track here last weekend to capture the Bluegrass. Last year's champion two-year-old filly trotter is well on her way to a repeat honor this year at age three, having already won eight of 10 starts and finishing second as the 3-5 choice in the Hambletonian against the boys.

Mission Brief is still very much a candidate for champion trotter and even horse of the year, although front-runner Wiggle It Jiggleit would have to go into a late season tailspin to enliven anyone's chances. She looms as the odds-on choice again tomorrow, with Wild Honey (Campbell) and Classical Annie (Aaron Merriman) posing the only remote serious upset prospects unless Mission Brief jumps.

One race later the three-year-old pacing colts - sans Wiggle It Jiggleit and Wakizashi Hanover - will contest the $450,000 Tattersalls. Artspeak (Zeron), last year's champion two-year-old pacing colt, will get plenty of support as onlookers wait for him to regain glimpses of his freshman form.

But the likely top three finishers here all raced over the track last week. Split The House (Tetrick) rebounded from a series of subpar efforts to win his Bluegrass split in sharp fashion, while Dude's The Man (Callahan) should improve off his fourth-place finish last out while In The Arsenal (Brett Miller) scored in first over fashion last week. Lost For Words returns following two stellar efforts in the Jug elim and final, but gets post 10 and may encounter traffic trouble.

Then in the finale, a full field of 10 sophomore trotters will go postward in the $527,000 Kentucky Futurity. This race, along with the Kentucky Filly Futurity and the International, will start to determine the trotter of the year.

Of course, much of the focus will be on the leading candidate for that honor, Pinkman, hero of the Hambletonian and the Canadian Trotting Derby. Last year's champion two-year-old trotting colt who has won 10 of 14 starts this year for Takter, Pinkman has been giant on the big tracks and something less inspiring on the small ovals.

Saturday afternoon on the famed Red Mile, Pinkman will be the solid favorite and will be difficult to tackle even from post nine. Four of his stablemates, French Laundry, The Bank, Uncle Lasse and Canepa Hanover will make life difficult for Crazy Wow (Tetrick) and Crazy Diamond (Campbell) who loom the only genuine threats to the Hambo winner.

But keep in mind, both Crazy Wow and Muscle Diamond won divisions of the Bluegrass Stakes over the track last weekend while Pinkman has been idle for three weeks. The Hambo hero is the class of the group, but it probably would not hurt to box Crazy Wow and Muscle Diamond in the exacta just in case Pinkman is a little short.