Yonkers and Meadowlands Offer Saturday Night Cards

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Ted Black

January 28th, 2017

Not long after the dust settles at Gulfstream Park following the inaugural running of the Grade I, $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational, standardbred racing fans will focus their attention on the Saturday evening cards at Yonkers Raceway and The Meadowlands.

Right at the midway point of the Yonkers card on Saturday night, onlookers will be treated to a stellar clash when eight older pacers battle in the $45,000 Open Handicap. Not all of the post positions were actually assigned, but the two outer slots were designated for Roland N Rock (Jordan Stratton) and Somewhere In L A (Matt Kakaley), while last week's 13-1 upset winner, Caviart Luca (George Brennan) won the 3-6 draw when he garnered post three for trainer Ron Burke.

But much of the focus in this event will be on Somewhere In L A, clearly the sharpest horse on the circuit and arguably the best pacer in the country right now, although the connections of Panocchio at Pompano Park might disagree. Somewhere In L A has won all three of his starts this year and four in a row overall for trainer Richard Banca and steps up into the Open Hcp following a pair of wicked efforts in the Preferred Hcp. He arrives with 23 wins and earnings just over $900,000 from 82 career outings and merits respect despite his outside eight hole assignment.

Roland N Rock won the Open Hcp two starts back for trainer Rob Harmon then finished fourth last week from his assigned outside stall in the compact field of six. His win at this level two starts back ended a modest bridesmaid skein when he was second on four straight occasions just below the top class. Once deemed as a pure speedball, Roland N Rock has displayed ample versatility over the last three months and will go in quest of his 40th career victory on Saturday, one that would push his lifetime bankroll past $400,000.
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Just to his inside is Lucan Hanover, another aged pacer with plenty of talent, versatility and back class. This seven-year-old Western Ideal gelding notched his first win in two starts this season last Saturday when he won the non-winners of $25,000 last five starts class in 1:52.4 for trainer Andrew Harris. He was clearly the unlucky horse in the 3-6 draw when getting the six hole, but Lucan Hanover has typically started each campaign in fine form and might deserve another chance in the George Morton Levy Memorial Series here with several more good outings.

Then  one race later in the $35,000 Preferred Handicap, Blood Brother gets some serious class relief after dropping out of the Open Hcp where he just failed as the 3-4 favorite last week. Another talented Banca trainee, Blood Brother has been second in both of his starts this year and is seeking to end a five-race skid dating back to a handy 1:52.3 score against Winners Over foes here on Nov. 27. He was predictably assigned the outside eight hole and likely looms the favorite, but he is no cinch.

In fact, E Z Noah (Daniel Dube) exits the Open for trainer Rene Allard and will look to regain his winning ways having won two straight against conditioned foes before finishing sixth in the top class last week. Sports Bettor (Brennan) was a solid third at this level last week after finishing fourth in the Open the week before. Milliondollarwave (Kakaley) was a nondescript fifth in this class last week, while Phil Your Boots makes his seasonal debut for Harris following a pair of good qualifiers at The Meadowlands.

Then several races later in the finale, a non-winners of $25,000 last five starts class for older pacers, railbound Sweet Talkin Satin (Jason Bartlett) and Polak A (Stratton) should settle the issue in the lane in this conditioned affair. Sweet Talkin Satin defeated non-winners of $15,000 last five company last week in 1:52.3 in his seasonal debut despite missing six weeks for Banca and gets the rail upon double jumping in class. Polak A has been second twice in three starts this year and draws favorably and should be able to work out an ideal trip.

That same night in the seventh race at the Meadowlands, a competitive, non-winners of $15,000 last five starts class for older pacers, Doctor Butch (Jim Marohn, Jr.) will likely assume the favorite's role again despite failing as the 1-2 choice against non-winners of $20,000 last five company at Yonkers last week. Despite his immense back class and solid 32-26-24 slate and $1.2 million career bankroll, Doctor Butch is clearly vulnerable to fail again as the post time choice.

In fact, both Ontario Success (Yannick Gingras) and Hillbilly Hanover (Brett Miller) look destined to complete the exacta again despite a moderate class hike. Last week in the non-winners of $11,500 last five starts class pacers here, Ontario Success prevailed as the 5-2 second choice in 1:50.1, while Hillbilly Hanover finished second as the even-money choice. Both should be 3-1 or higher in this spot thanks to the presence of Doctor Butch and another Hillbilly Hanover-Ontario Success exacta could prove far more generous than a week ago.