Weekend harness preview

Ted Black

October 11th, 2014

As both thoroughbred and standardbred racing fans can attest, the fall races often mark the beginning of the final stages when the best horses of all ages and both genders look to make their last push for division honors and potentially horse of the year. With that in mind, harness racing fans will turn their attention to Balmoral Park near Chicago on Saturday.

In what appears to be an early prep for the Breeders Crown cards at The Meadowlands on November 21-22, Balmoral Park will host several lucrative American-National Stakes for various pacers and trotters. Among the participants are several horses seeking multiple year-end honors, including horse of the year.

In fact, the fourth race on the card, the $200,000 American-National for three-year-old colt trotters features Father Patrick (Yannick Gingras), last year's champion two-year-old colt trotter who is among the leading candidates for champion three-year-old trotting colt, trotter of the year and horse of the year although his lone miscue came in the sport's biggest race, the $1.5 million Hambletonian final.

Father Patrick has won 10 of 13 starts and banked over $1.2 million, but his stablemate, Trixton, won the Hambo and another stablemate, Nuncio, was second in the Hambo and then upset Father Patrick in last week's Kentucky Futurity. Father Patrick, a winner 20 times in 24 lifetime starts, will be the odds-on favorite in this Am-Nat event and this should be the starting point to his campaign for three year-end honors.

Two races later in the sixth, the $150,000 American-National for three-year-old trotting fillies, both Lifetime Pursuit (Gingras) and Shake it Cerry (Ron Pierce) will vie for favoritism here and both seek to claim year-end divisional honors. Lifetime Pursuit has won eight of 14 starts and earned $675,000, while Shake It Cerry has won 11 of 13 starts and will look to defend her title as champion of this age, gait and gender.

While the seventh race will not factor into the year-end honors among two-year-old colt pacers, it should prove to be a competitive event. Earndawg (Todd Warren) owns a 5-2-2 slate from 12 starts, while Roland Park (John DeLong) has won all 13 of his career outings while competing exclusively at the fair tracks. Saturday will mark his first attempt on a big track against genuine open competition.

Then  two races later in the $165,000 American-National for older trotters, Creatine (Dan Noble), Market Share (Tetrick) and Master Of Law (Jimmy Takter) will face one another in a competitive affair. Creatine posted a 31-1 upset over Sebastian K last week in the Allerage Farm at Lexington's Red Mile, while Master Of Law upset Sebastian K two starts back in the Centaur at Hoosier Park. Market Share, a former Hambo champ, is looking to regain his winning ways amid an extended drought.

One race later in the 10th, the $175,000 American-National for three-year-old filly pacers, look for Gettingreadytoroll (Gingras) to regain his winning ways after finishing third as the 4-5 favorite in the Glen Garnsey Memorial at Lexington. Act Now (Tetrick) posted the narrow upset in the Glen Garnsey and will seek a repeat here. Weeper, the Maryland-bred hero of he Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final at Harrah's Philadelphia, will seek her first open stakes tally.

Then one race later in the 11th, the $225,000 American-National for three-year-old colt pacers, a quartet of sophomores will look to join the short list of contenders for division champion. Let's Drink On It, Limelight Beach, JK Endofanera and Somewhere In LA will each look to begin their fall open stakes season with a major win. Limelight Beach has won three straight, including the prestigious Little Brown Jug, while JK Endofanera has competed in all of the major stakes to this point.

Then one race later in the 12th, the $180,000 American-National for aged pacers, Foiled Again and Clear Vision will look to carry the baton left by the idle Sweet Lou, who has lost three straight races since compling a 10-race win streak. Foiled Again (Gingras) was second last week in the Allerage Farm at Lexington and owns a 6-5-5 slate and $630,000 banked this year and boasts an amazing 82-54-32 slate and record $6.65 million bankroll in a stellar 219-race career.

Looking to upend Foiled Again in this competitive affair are two other Burke trainees, Clear Vision (Miller) and Bettor's Edge (Matt Kakaley), last week's Allerage hero, State Treasurer (Tetrick) and the durable Thinking Out Loud (John Campbell). State Treasurer benefited from a second over trip behind Foiled Again last week in Lexington, but look for both Foiled Again and Clear Vision to work out better journeys this evening and that Burke duo could again finish one-two as they did in the $220,000 Robert Quillen Memorial at Harrington Raceway in Delaware each of he last two years.