The Meadowlands harness meet mercifully comes to an end this weekend. The problem of being able to attract horses to race at the Meadowlands is really magnified with this weekend’s race cards. Last year the Meadowlands had full fields through the end of the meet. This year is totally different. On Friday night, the Meadowlands has only nine races carded. Of the nine races, here is a breakdown on field sizes: Four races with six horses; two races with seven horses; two races with eight starters; one race with ten starters. For Saturday night’s stakes laden finale, there are twelve races on the card due to the six stakes races. The breakdown for the six overnight races have one nine horse field, four seven horse fields, and one six horse field; this accomplished by combining classes. As bad as this is, the reality is next year the Meadowlands meet will be as bleak as this year's or even worse as there will be no relief with regards to the horse shortage. In the next few days we will talk about some options to help the Meadowlands weather this storm until relief hopefully comes in 2011.
As bad as things are at the Meadowlands, things are going great at Yonkers Raceway. There are thirteen races nightly and on Saturday night with the exception of the Hudson Filly and Yonkers Trot eliminations, full fields is the rule as the entry box is regularly oversubscribed. The entry box is so oversubscribed that the SOA of NY has been advising their members to consider racing at the Meadowlands to get their horses raced.
Anyway, this Saturday, the Meadowlands is hosting the four Breeders Crown races for older horses as well as the Sweetheart and Woodrow Wilson stakes for 2yo pacers. In addition Yonkers is hosting eliminations for the Yonkers and Hudson Filly Trots with the finals taking place next week. In tribute to a great racing tradition, we are taking a look at the Gold Cup & Saucer at Charlottetown Driving Park even though it appears the race is not available for wagering through simulcasting in the States; hopefully next year some American tracks will recognize the race with its great tradition is worthy of simulcasting; even if not the full card.
Having completed my initial handicapping, here are my early bird selections for these races. As always, remember these are my initial selections; depending on scratches and other late changes my selections may change.
Meadowlands Race 3 – Breeders Crown Open Trot
2 – Lucky Jim (2-5)
6 – Arch Madness (6-1)
3 – In Focus (10-1)
Lucky Jim completes his amazing year in his seasonal finale. Current plans call for Lucky Jim to take the rest of the year off. Arch Madness had no shot in the Nat Ray; is second best in this race. In Focus is the best of the rest; adds a little value to the trifecta.
Meadowlands Race 4 – Breeders Crown Open Mares Trot
3 – Maid for Tag (7-2)
9 – Spice Queen (8-1)
2 – Buck I St Pat (5-2)
1 – Lavec Dream (8-1)
Handicapping this race is a little challenging. Since there were no eliminations for this race, the Meadowlands had a prep race. When handicapping this race one must question how much these horses were used last week and whether or not the trainer was looking ahead to this week. Maid for Tag is my tepid selection. Winner of the prep race last week she merits some consideration this week. I am expecting her to go off higher than her morning line. Anything close to this morning line or less, I will pass on her. Spice Queen has been close all year and showed improvement last week. If she can show anything like her 3yo form, she will be tough. Buck I St Pat faltered last week after a sharp win at Tioga in her previous start. If the prep race was being used as a tightner she is the horse to beat. On the other hand, perhaps she is tailing off. Your guess. Lavec Dream returns to the big oval; if she returns to her Mohawk form she may be the value bet here.
Meadowlands Race 6 – Woodrow Wilson 2yo Open Pace
1 - I’m Gorgeous (4-1)
2 – Windfall Blue Chip (2-1)
10 – Relaxed Fit (8-1)
8 – Payne’s Landing (15-1)
I’m Gorgeous is a winner of four out of five starts this year with one second place finish. He was an easy winner of his elimination and now draws the rail; looks to upend the other Teague trainee. Windfall Blue Chip is the other trainee. Undefeated (3 for 3) colt can win just as easily but doesn’t offer any value. Relaxed Fit was beaten by the second choice in his last start and draws the worst of it. Consider for trifecta. Payne’s Landing has not won yet but is better than he shows. If Payne’s Landing is racing at long odds consider him as a long shot selection.
Meadowlands Race 7 – Breeders Crown Open Mares Pace
3 – Darlin’s Delight (6-1)
4 – Dreamfair Eternal (3-1)
5 - Btwnyurheartnmine (5-1)
8 - Cuz She Can (15-1)
Here is another race where eliminations were not required. Darlin’s Delight and Dreamfair Eternal will not surprise if they finish one-two in this race; go for the value on top. Btwnyurheartnmine had sharp 1:48.4 prep at the Meadowlands; could be an upset possibility. Cuz She Can been sharp at Chester; finished fourth in her Meadowlands return; may improve now that she had a race over the track.
Meadowlands Race 9 – Sweetheart – 2yo Filly Pace
2 – Western Moonlight (9-5)
4 – BJ’s Canouan (4-1)
8 – Lover of Art (5-1)
1 – By Your Side (10-1)
Western Moonlight won her prep in 1:53 by open lengths; look for a repeat. BJ’s Canouan skipped the prep last week. Filly won Countess Adios in last start in 1:54; completes the exacta. Lover of Art raced a big mile to finish second behind top choice in prep; draws a bad post. By Your Side jumped in her last race; may complete superfecta if filly minds her manners.
Meadowlands Race 10 – Breeders Crown Open Horse and Geldings Pace
5 – Mister Big (2-1)
4 – Art Official (3-1)
1 – Won the West (10-1)
Press reports indicate Shadow Play is a likely scratch due to continuing foot issues. Mister Big is a horse that is known to be a threat in big money races; expect a better effort with the money on the line and a short field. Art Official won last week, finishes cheap exacta. Won the West has been under the radar most of the year; completes the trifecta.
Yonkers Race 4 – Hudson Filly Trot Elimination 1 – 3yo fillies
5 – Windsong Soprano (3-1)
6 – Yursa Hanover (5-1)
3 – Sea Raven (12-1)
Windsong Soprano was impressive in last start at Meadowlands. Filly was wiped out in her elimination in the Hambo Oaks; the one to beat. Yursa Hanover had two sharp qualifiers; would not surprise with a victory here; consider only if her odds provide value. Sea Raven is the best of the rest.
Yonkers Race 6 – Hudson Filly Trot Elimination 2 – 3yo fillies
4 – Seaside (3-1)
5 – Celebrity Juliet (1-1)
1 – Hall of Wishes (10-1)
Seaside draws into the easier division. She has been competitive against her division’s best and is my pick to win. Celebrity Juliet can beat the top pick but offers no value. Hall of Wishes qualified at Freehold; possibility if looking for a long shot play.
Yonkers Race 8 – Yonkers Trot Elimination 1 – 3yo Open
1 – Judge Joe (7-5)
3 – Copy Catch (6-1)
6 – Celebrity Athena (5-1)
Judge Joe had no chance in Hambo with an impossible post. Has been racing well prior and shows wins over the half mile track; one to beat. Only caution is his best efforts have come in NYSS races. Copy Catch met some monsters in the Colonial at Chester, this is a much easier field. Celebrity Athena has been competitive against the best fillies in the country; takes on the boys here and can upset this field.
Yonkers Race 9 – Yonkers Trot Elimination 2 – 3yo Open
4 – Vesuvio AS (6-1)
2 – The Chancellor (8-5)
7 – Calchips Brute (4-1)
Vesuvio AS has a proven ability to handle the half mile oval with good showings in the Dexter Cup elimination and finals. Colt took time off and prepped in NJSS race at Freehold in 1:58 and is my choice to upset The Chancellor. The Chancellor does not have to face Muscle Hill or Explosive Matter this week; is the horse to beat but will likely be over bet. Calchips Brute has been quietly picking up thirds in Hambo elimination, final and Colonial Trot at long odds. He clearly shows he belongs with these; only concern is the post position likely eliminates any win possibility.
Charlottetown Driving Park Race 13 -- Gold Cup & Saucer
8 - Silent Swing (7-2)
1 - Pacific Oak (5-2)
4 - Along Came Polly (3-1)
5 - All the Weapons (8-1)
Silent Swing is my selection here. Yes, the gelding draws post position eight and his wire to wire win in his trial was two seconds slower than the fastest trial but my feeling is he went only as fast as he needed to. Silent Swing has won the Des Smith Memorial early this season as well as some Opens at Mohawk so he has the class; also picks up Wally Hennessey for the final. Pacific Oak finished second to Along Came Polly but draws the rail; lands place spot. Along Came Polly won the fastest trial but looses the rail; this will be the difference. All the Weapons; former $20K claimer finished in a deadheat with Secret Weapon but had tougher trip; completes the superfecta.
Good luck and good racing.