Yonkers, Pocono Downs, Meadowlands and Rosecroft offer weekend action

Profile Picture: Ted Black

Ted Black

May 19th, 2018

Not long after the Preakness Stakes is concluded and racing enthusiasts know whether or not Justify will head to the Belmont Stakes with a chance at becoming thoroughbred racing's 13th Triple Crown winner, harness racing fans will pay close attention to the action at a quartet of ovals.

Saturday evening Yonkers Raceway will host the eliminations for both the Lismore Stakes for three-year-old pacing fillies and the Art Rooney Stakes for three-year-old pacing colts. There is only one elimination for the Lismore and only one sophomore pacing filly will get eliminated from the $110,000 final one week later, but there are two, five-horse eliminations for the Art Rooney, with eight of those 10 colts returning for the $340,000 final.

The lone Lismore elim includes Reynolds Stakes winners Alexa's Power (Tim Tetrick) and Checkered Past (Mark Macdonald) who got posts eight and nine, respectively. Reynolds runner-ups Reign On Me and Pass Line Blue Chip did not fare much better in the draw, getting posts five and seven, respectively, while Python Blue Chip (George Brennan) got the coveted rail after finishing third as the 1-2 choice in her Reynolds split. All six should return for the six-figure final one week from now.

Saturday's first elimination of the Art Rooney includes Jimtastic, Major Authority, Decoy, Matinee Fashion and Minnie Vinnie. The second offers Trump Nation, Kwik Talkin, Springsteen, Babes Dig Me and Handsoffmychips. Four of the five in each elim will return for the final and the second split looks the deeper of the two. Kwik Talkin won five of eight starts and earned nearly $125,000 last year, while Springsteen posted a 3-3-2 slate and nearly $200,000 banked from 14 outings at age two.

Also on the Yonkers Raceway Saturday card is a solid edition of the $50,000 Open Handicap for aged pacers and the weekly feature includes prominent George Morton Levy Memorial Series participants Always At My Place, Bit Of A Legend N and Evenin Of Pleasure. Bit Of A Legend N, the 2016 Levy hero, finished second in the most recent edition of that event, while Evenin Of Pleasure rebounded from his Levy final performance to capture the Open last week by seven lengths in 1:51.1.

That same evening at Pocono Downs, the Pennsylvania five-eighths mile oval will offer three, $55,000 divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for three-year-old pacing colts and several of the sport's best will be in action. The track will also present two, $30,000 divisions of the Great Northeast Pacing Series for Open free-for-allers.

In the first of the three PASS splits, Grand Teton, Points North and Sometimesawinner will garner most of the attention. Both Grand Teton and Points North were among the top freshman pacers last season, while Sometimesawinner has emerged on the scene by winning four of five starts for trainer Kevin Switzer.

Several races later in the second PASS split for sophomore pacing colts, This Is The Plan, Captain Deo and Dorsoduro Hanover will battle for the major spoils. This Is The Plan enjoyed a solid freshman campaign and he has already won the first two starts of his sophomore season and looms the favorite in this split.

Then several races later on the latter portion of the card, Hayden Hanover, Stay Hungry, Lost In Time and Nutcracker Sweet all make their sophomore debuts in the third PASS split, while Wes Delight goes in quest of his third win in four seasonal starts.

Saturday's first division of the Great Northeast Series includes Rockeyed Optimist, Christen Me N and Rockin Ron, the latter two having performed well in the Levy series. Two races later the second split includes Mel Mara, Mach It So, Dr J Hanover, Barimah A, Bettor's Edge and Boston Red Rocks. Both Mach It So and Dr J Hanover were multiple Levy leg winners and both earned a check in the final.

Also that evening at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, the one-mile oval will host two divisions of the Graduate Series for four-year-old trotters and two divisions of the Rainbow Blue series for pacing fillies and mares that have not won two races or $25,000 lifetime.

The first division of the Graduate Series for trotters features the return of Ariana G (Yannick Gingras), the immensely talented trotting filly who won 12 of 15 starts and over $1 million last year and sports 21 wins and nearly $1.9 million banked from 26 career tries. She was overwhelming division champion at age two and again at age three and she was among the finalists for trotter of the year and horse of the year last year and makes her seasonal debut off two solid qualifiers for trainer Jimmy Takter.

The second division does not feature a standout, but it does include Moonshiner Hanover, Achilles Duharas and International Moni, a trio of talented trotters who are perhaps grateful they did not draw into the same split with Ariana G. At some point during the series and later in open stakes they will likely have to face her, but for not 'Moonshiner', 'Achilles' and 'Moni' will have their chance to garner the spotlight in a separate Graduate division.

Sunday's Rosecroft Raceway card will kick off with a trio of Maryland Sire Stakes eliminations, two for three-year-old filly pacers and one for sophomore trotting colts.

In the Sunday opener, HS Shauna (Roger Plante, Jr.) will look to regain her winning ways after finishing second in the fastest opening round split, while first round winner Miss Choptank (Gene Long) and runner-up Sansa (Jonathan Roberts) will look to secure their berth in the May 30 final for this group. HS Shauna sports a 7-4-4 slate and $57,500 banked from 16 career outings, while Miss Choptank has won six of 17 starts. Sansa has been second in all three of her starts this year and four times in eight winless outings to begin her career.

Then one race later in the MDSS prelim for sophomore trotting colts, What That Is (Brian Burton) will look to continue his dominance in this division despite leaving from post eight. He won the opening round leg in 1:56 in his seasonal debut and now owns seven wins from 11 starts for trainer Judy Welty and owner-breeder Brian Emerson. Uncle Ike (Frank Milby) was second in the opening leg and drew post two for this one for trainer Betsy Brown.

Then one race later in the second MDSS elim for three-year-old filly pacers, Cool Toy (Jason Green) will look to continue her sharp form after winning the opening round in 1:53.1 for trainer Elwood Tignor. Princess Rusty (Milby) was an unlucky fourth in the opening split as the 4-5 favorite, but arrives with three wins from four starts this year and six wins from 15 career outings.

Sunday evening's card at Rosecroft Raceway is also part of the 'Trotting For Charity' promotion this weekend and the various catch drivers will compete for their favorite charities, including St. Jude's Children's Hospital, the Talbot County Special Riders and the Potomac Valley Boxing Association. All 11 races are designated for a specific charity.