Weekend harness preview 1/9/15

Profile Picture: Ted Black

Ted Black

January 6th, 2015

After a brief respite for owners, trainers, drivers, patrons and horses alike, live racing will return to Yonkers Raceway in New York on Friday evening and the three-day weekend card features a trio of Open events for pacers and trotters.

As is normally the case at Yonkers, the Friday card will highlight the top pacing mares on the New York half-mile circuit and the inaugural Open for 2015 features a trio of distaff pacers who will be prominent this weekend and throughout the year.

Not surprisingly, Voelz Hanover (Pat Lachance) will garner much of the support while being assigned the outside six slot in the field. This 10-year-old Astreos mare is a new addition to the Lachance barn, but she is a recognizable name among most standardbred players. Voelz Hanover posted a solid 7-4-2 slate and $255,000 bankroll from 18 starts last year and she owns a commendable 45-34-25 slate and $1.7 million in earnings from 170 lifetime tries.

Fresh off a pair of good qualifiers at the Meadowlands, Voelz Hanover notched her last victory of the season on November 15 when she bested the B-2/A-1 Handicap at the New Jersey mile oval before finishing ninth in the Breeders Crown Open Mare behind the likes of Shelliscape and Anndrovette. Voelz Hanover is clearly the class of this event, but she may not be entirely tightened for her season opener and could need a start or two before reaching peak form.

Looking to upend Voelz Hanover in the Filly-Mare Open are two distaffers accustomed to winning recently. Set Me Up (George Brennan) won both of her starts at the Meadowlands during the break against the B-1/A-2/A-1 handicap ranks for pacing mares for trainer Ron Burke in 1:52 and 1:52.2, respectively, and looms a serious threat here. Robin Cruiser (Jordan Stratton) won three times at this level here in the fall, including the most recent edition of this event on Dec. 12 for trainer Julie Miller and she will not part with her local crown easily.

Then on Saturday evening the feature is the $44,000 Open Handicap for older pacers and this race - as it has been for much of the last 10 editions - appears to be very wide open.

Take It Back Terry (Brennan) finished sixth in the tough A-2/A-1/FFA at the Meadowlands last weekend behind Doctor Butch, Beach Memories and Wake Up Peter, but he won his last start over this track on closing night. Mickey Hanover (Daniel Dube) recorded his last four wins of the previous season against upper-level conditioned foes at Yonkers, but has yet to reach the winner's circle in the top class here. McErlean (Eric Goodell) won the Open on Nov. 29, but was fifth and seventh, respectively, in his last two outings here. BJ's Guy defeated non-winners of $25,000 last six company in consecutive outings on Nov. 29 and Dec. 6 before finishing third in the Open. Sapphire City climbed through the conditioned class later in the fall by winning four straight races, including the Open on Dec. 6 and finished second to Beach Memories on closing night.

Then on Sunday morning, before the second day of Divisional Round contests in the National Football League playoffs, the $44,000 Open handicap for trotters will take center stage at the midway point of the card and like the Open pace one night earlier this event is wide open.

Take My Picture (Jason Bartlett) draws the rail and should be a major player here after finishing fourth in the top class on Dec. 14 when burdened with post position 11 in the second tier. Backstreet Hanover (Tyler Buter) was second in the Open on the Sunday finale last month and draws inside again and looms a danger. In Nomine Patri (Jim Marshall, III) was seventh in the finale, but was a good second in the Nov. 30 edition of the Open, while Dancehall Mistress (Dube) recorded a stellar, four-length score in the Nov. 23 edition of the Open before finishing third in each of her last two tries at this level.