Weekend Harness Preview for 6/20/2014

Profile Picture: Molly Jo Rosen

Molly Jo Rosen

June 20th, 2014

by Ted Black

In the weeks between the Belmont Stakes and the Meadowlands Pace racing fans can get falsely lured into a lull, when, in fact, there ample quality races for trotters and pacers at various venues.

For instance at the Meadowlands on Friday night is the $50,000 TVG Free-For-All for trotters and it features the top rated horse, trotter or pacer, in all of harness racing - Sebastian K. Since arriving from Europe, Sebastian K has had an immediate impact on the local scene, posting a pair of handy victories in the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial elim and final. His elim win was clocked in 1:50.1, equaling the fastest mile trotted by a horse on a mile track.

Sebastian K and trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt are expected to loom here as the odds-on favorite, although several other talented trotters appear poised for a possible upset. Market Share has won twice in four starts and owns a stellar 1:50.2 mark courtesy of his victory in the $250,000 Maxie Lee at Harrah's Philadelphia and will be seeking revenge against Sebastian K for his Cutler trouncing. Sevruga owns a 2-2-1 slate and mark of 1:52 for trainer Julie Miller and has enough early speed to be in ideal position throughout.

Across the Hudson River at Yonkers Raceway that evening, a solid group of trotters will contest the $44,000 Open Handicap. One of them has already grown accustomed to facing many of the sport's best trotters, including both Market Share and Sebastian K and his latest outing at Yonkers is likely designed as a confidence booster.

Daylon Magician has won 21 of 49 starts and earned over $1.6 million in his career and Friday evening he jumps back into the Open following a handy win against non-winners of $18,000 last six company over the New York half-mile oval. In fact,his last two wins have come against such foes. But Daylon Magician looks set to continue his winning ways in the Open, although he is certainly not a lock to do so despite his favorable post two draw.

Last week Coraggioso overcame his assigned outside post for the second straight start to capture the Open Hcp by three lengths as the odds-on choice in 1:55.1 for trainer Julie Miller. He had also won the May 23 edition of the Open Hcp at Yonkers as the 6-5 favorite from his assigned eight hole. The presence of Daylon Magician will likely prevent Coraggioso from garnering the favorite's role for a third straight start, but the Magician may not necessarily prevent this Miller trainee from reaching the wire first.

Saturday evening the races at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania take center stage as that five-eighths mile oval hosts eliminations for the Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial for three-year-old colt trotters, the James M. Lynch Memorial for three-year-old filly pacers, the Max C. Hempt Memorial for three-year-old colt pacers and the Ben Franklin for older pacers. Both the Lynch and Hempt were formerly known as the John W. Miller and William E. Miller Memorial, respectively, when they were contested at Rosecroft Raceway.

Races three and five on the card comprise the two eliminations for the Earl Beal Memorial where the focus is partly on the trotters by primarily on one trainer. Jimmy Takter appears to be holding a pair of aces in this event as Nuncio (John Campbell) will be the odds-on favorite in the first elim, while Father Patrick will be the solid choice in the second. Both colts have won all three of their starts this year and could potentially give Takter a sweep of the top three spots in the Hambo along with recent Goodtimes winner, Trixon.

Races four, six and eight make up the three elims for the James M. Lynch Memorial for three-year-old filly pacers. The first split is wide open, with Someislandsomwhere (David Miller), Gallie Bythe Beach (Campbell) and Act Now (Brian Sears) will all vie for favoritism and should all return for the lucrative final here next weekend.

The second split is virtually another three-horse affair between Allstar Rating (Gingras), Fancy Desire (George Napolitano) and Gettingreadytoroll (Brett Miller). Like the first split, all three will vie for favoritism and there is a good chance the entire trio will return for the final next weekend.

In the third and final division, much of the attention will get steered toward the two fillies who drew outside. Tyra (Tim Tetrick), recent winner of a $150,000 stakes at Yonkers for trainer Jim King, Jr., will start from post six while Uffizi Hanover (David Miller), winner of last weekend's Fan Hanover final at Mohawk, will leave from post seven. Either of these two talented fillies could go postward as the favorite and either could prevail, but Tyra looks like the better play since she should be a higher price than Uffizi Hanover.

Races seven, nine and 11 comprise the three eliminations for the Max C. Hempt final. In the seventh, expect Always B Miki (Corey Callahan) to go postward as the favorite as he seeks to rebound from his Pepsi North America Cup setback. At Press Time (Matt Kakaley) has won four of seven starts for trainer Ron Burke and will be a factor, as will Limelight Beach (David Miller) who drew the rail for trainer Brian Brown as the colt seeks his first win in five starts this year. He has finished second three times in his four defeats.

In the ninth, the second Hempt elim, All Bets Off (Kakaley) will likely be the solid choice for trainer Ron Burke. He has won four of five starts this season and rose to prominence by capturing the $300,000 Art Rooney final at Yonkers Raceway. He could be primed for a very successful campaign. Cammikey (Brian Zendt) and Western Vintage will attract plenty of attention and both will be likely candidates for the final.

Then in the 11th, the third hempt wlim, expect Mcwicked to garner much of the attention following his third-place finish in the North America Cup final last weekend. Maxi Bon is a serious player in this event, as is Stevensville, who disappointed in the Art Rooney final. Bushwacker has won twice in seven outings for trainer Chris Ryder.

Races 10 and 12 comprise the Ben Franklin elims. The 10th should be a battle between last year's three-year-old champ, Captaintreacherous, a sharp 1:49.2 winner last week at The Meadowlands in his four-year-old debut, and Foiled Again, the ageless wonder who has already won 4 of 9 starts this year and sports 80 wins in  his stellar career.

In the second split, the razor sharp Sweet Lou will be the solid choice although Clear Vision and Bolt The Duer will seek to up