Weekend harness preview 1/2/15

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Ted Black

January 1st, 2015

While many sports enthusiasts are eagerly looking forward to the Wild Card weekend in the National Football League playoffs, standardbred fans will be seeking to cash a few tickets at several tracks along the East Coast beginning on Friday night.

The Friday evening card at The Meadowlands offers a stellar group of competitive events for pacers and trotters of different ages and varying levels, but among the races there appears to be one genuinely solid play. In Friday's 11th race, a non-winners of three races or $40,000 lifetime class for pacing fillies and mares, look for Empress Deo (Tim Tetrick) to regain her winning ways following a narrow miss at this level last week. The Wayne Givens trainee had won her previous four outings before just missing last week in 1:51.4, but she finished a whopping eight lengths clear of the show horse and now figures to prevail again at this level.

On Saturday night at the Meadowlands a pair of pacers in consecutive races during the middle of the card look playable. In the sixth, the B-2/B-1 Handicap, give Ok Commander a solid chance to score after last week's gutty third-place effort when he was parked the opening half from post 10 to make the front and still battled bravely through the lane before being overtaken by a pair of rivals. Then one race later in the A-2/A-1/Free-For-All, look for Wake Up Peter to redeem himself after he finished second as the 4-5 choice following a long, first over journey on a night when Dapper Dude controlled the tempo throughout and lasted for a mild upset.

Then on Sunday evening at Dover Downs after three of the initial four NFL playoff games have already been decided and the other pending during the 15-race card, a trio of pacers of varying levels look playable.

In the third race, a non-winners of $4001 last six class, expect In Treatment (Ron Pierce) to rebound from a narrow defeat last week at this level to score here. Owned and trained by William "Doc" Moffett, In Treatment delivered a superb effort in this class last week while beaten just a nose. He raced second over to the half, fanned three-wide and surged to command on the far turn then was overhauled in the lane by Chipoffablueblock in the final strides. He should be able to work out a better trip this weekend.

Several races later in the 12th, a non-winners of $6001 last six condition for pacing fillies and mares, give Itz Cherry Ripe N (George Dennis) the nod in this group. A durable sort for trainer Jeff Clark, Itz Cherry Ripe N posted a 3-8-5 slate and banked $37,500 from 32 starts last year while spending much of the season facing slightly tougher in conditioned events at Dover and Harrington. Itz Cherry Ripe N should kick off the New Year in style on Sunday evening and is worth backing while Dirt Diamond (Pierce) earns the favorite's role for trainer Nick Surick.

Then two races later in the 14th, the penultimate race on the card for $10,000 claimers, look for two durable ages pacers who thrived at Rosecroft Raceway last year to settle the issue in the lane. Cowboy Artist (Victor Kirby) posted an 8-7-2 slate and $28,000 bankroll from 29 starts last year for trainer Eric Ell and owner William Still, including five wins at the Rosecroft fall meet where he was among the horse of the meet finalists. Osceola Gold (Tony Morgan) won 10 of 30 starts and banked over $42,500 for owner-trainer Jeanmarie Kurowski, including a modest skein last spring at Dover and Rosecroft when he established a lifetime mark of 1:51.