Wednesday Harness Preview for 6/18/2014

Molly Jo Rosen

June 18th, 2014

by Ted Black

With a brief heatwave enveloping the Mid-Atlantic region during the middle of the week, harness racing fans who head to Harrington Raceway this evening for the 15-race card may want to spend most of it in the dining room or the simulcast area where temperatures are likely to feel much more comfortable.

As is normally the case on Wednesday evening, a good portion of the card is dedicated to trotters and there are a good blend of them with several Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund eliminations for three-year-olds, numerous overnight races and the Open Handicap for the top older trotters on the grounds.

The second race on the card is the first trot of the evening, one for horses that have not won $2601 in their last five starts. The modest group includes two horses that were beaten at short prices last week, but one of them was considerably more lucky in the post position draw than the other.

For the second straight week U-B (Jonathan Roberts) draws the rail and the John Wilkerson trainee is going to be difficult to beat from there, although likely as the modest favorite since he is dropping in class. His main rival, Windsong Ingenius (Jim Morand), who finished a good second as the 4-5 favorite last week, drew post seven and will have to spend much of the race parked out second or third over.

Two races later in a non-winners of $5501 last five class for trotters, look for Benns Clearout to end his streak of near-misses and lead throughout to find the winner's circle. In each of his last two starts in this class, Benns Clearout has set all of the early fractions only to be nailed at the wire. He should be able to withstand the late bid of Idol Kemp in this event.

One race later in a non-winners of $7501 last five/optional $15,000 claiming event for trotters, expect Gurf (Art Stafford, Jr.) to finally emerge with his first win of the season. Winless in 16 starts thus far, Gurf has spent much of the year facing tougher rivals and he moves way inside from post seven to the coveted rail for this outing and that should finally enable the Rosemary Smutz trainee to find the winner's circle.

Then in the $17,000 Open Handicap for trotters, a race that was not carded last Wednesday, expect Traverse Seelster (Ross Wolfenden) and NF Happenstance (Jack Parker, Jr) to continue their season long dominance of this event although neither raced last week.

When the two, talented aged trotters last met on June 4, Traverse Seelster gained the early advantage, yielded to NF Happenstance before the half and those two staged an epic battle through the lane that 'NF' won by a head in 1:54.3. Once again they start from their assigned posts six and seven, respectively, but look for Traverse Seelster to turn the tables on his archrival this evening and capture the Open.

Two races later in the first of two opening round DSBF eliminations for three-year-old colt totters looking to earn a berth in the lucrative $100,000 final on the Governor's Day card here July 24.

The first division appears wide open, although Bosston BNZ (Stafford) looks like the logical choice. He won an opening round DSBF elim at Dover then finished fifth in the final there after racing first over. His main competition in this elim should be Call Me Hal (Jeff Fout), a Winbak Farm homebred who failed to earn a spot in the final at Dover but did win the consolation.

In the very next race on the card, onlookers will not have to scan the program long to find the favorite. I Like My Boss (Roberts) has won all nine of his career outings, including six this year, for owner-trainer Robert Shahan and he has typically prevailed at a very short price. He will start from post two this evening and should dominate this race from start to finish.

Of course, anyone looking to upend the odds-on favorite could take another shot at LG's Pride. Last week in a local prep for this event, LG's Pride set the early fractions and then proved no match for I Like My Boss late. This Les Givens trainee has plenty of early speed and appears to have improved considerably since settling for the runner-up spot in the DSBF consolation at Dover.