I must confess, I love 'B' track racing. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing the Muscle Hills, Well Saids, Won the Wests, and other great standardbred stars, but I love racing at the minor league tracks. What is the draw? Perhaps it is the possibility of seeing an up and coming driver or trainer plying their trade; maybe it is the intimate feel you get at these tracks; perhaps it is they tend to be half mile tracks (I cut my teeth on the half miler). I don't know. The bottom line is there is something that draws me to these tracks.
'B' tracks get no respect. However, where would racing be without these small tracks? As much as some would like to think it is not the case, racing at the Meadowlands, Yonkers and other tracks depends on these smaller tracks. After all, where did drivers like George Brennan and trainers like Ron Gurfein get their start (Monticello)? Many of our sports greats started at these smaller tracks.
In tribute to the 'B' tracks, I will start handicapping a race card from different tracks each week and listing my selections here during the late fall/winter months. Sure, not being familiar with each track and their trainers and drivers will make things challenging, but I'll give it a go. For the most part an American track will be selected each week, though an occasional look at a Canadian track can't be ruled out.
Have a track you wish to recommend? Let me know. The only requirement is the track can not be considered an 'A' track; if something special is going on at the Meadowlands, Yonkers, or Woodbine, I will cover it). While I will not guarantee which track will be handicapped each week, when you submit your suggestions, if you know of a specific stake or early/late closer occurring there, let me know.
Meanwhile, Dover Downs has a few stake races worth looking at tonight. Here are my selections for those races.
6th Race - $167,250 Matron Stakes - 3yo Pacing Fillies
While Showherthemoney is obviously the horse to beat, my selection is Ginger And Fred. Ginger and Fred has not been as good of late as her early season form but she is showing some life. In last week's preliminary she made two moves, always a good sign, to take third; worth taking a stab. Showherthemoney as previously mentioned is the horse to beat, but her likely 1-9 odds is a deterrent. Special Sweetheart finished second to Showherthemoney last week; has been knocking heads with the division’s best all year; completes the trifecta.
8th Race - $214,163 Matron Stakes - 3yo Trotting Fillies
Honorable Daughter went a tough race last week to finish third; my pick here to win in a very competitive race. Yursa Hanover was very impressive in her elimination last week following my top pick last week; expect a tougher trip this week. Rapsong rode the rail last week, expect the same here tonight.
10th Race - $350,000 Progress Pace - 3yo Open
Arctic Warrior is upset selection in the Progress Pace. Top pick has chance with top horses drawing the outside with a trip; must have good odds to play. Vintage Master has become somewhat of an enigma; showing signs of brilliance and then throwing in a clunker. Bad post draw and low odds leads me to try for an upset. Schoolkids won his elimination last week; expect tougher task tonight (coupled with Vertical Horizon). Mr Wiggles has shown signs of brilliance all year; with driver on home track must consider in exotics.
11th Race - $253,537 Matron Stakes - 3yo Trotting Open
Calchips Brute raced well in his elimination last week and draws much better this week, has legitimate chance to win this week but don't expect anything near his 10-1 morning line. Swan For All, won his split last week; don’t expect it to go this easy this week. Colt looking for a stakes win to close out his racing career (heading off to stud); comes up short. Jaavos Boy finished credible second last week in first start back since September; completes trifecta.