Before we discuss the kick-off of Tioga's 2011 racing season, I want to make you aware of another special series coming out on VFTRG. The second HANA Harness survey results has been released to members of the group and I have analyized the results and formed my own opinions. However, with most of the horse racing world (not me) focused on the Kentucky Derby, there is no sense issuing my report on the survey at this time. So the current plan is for releasing this two part study on Sunday and Monday, once the Kentucky Derby is in the books. There is some interesting information in the report so be on the look out for the special report for my take on the results, beginning on Sunday.
In the meanwhile, the curtain rises on the 2011 Tioga Downs season with their traditional Kentucky Derby day kick-off. Ten races grace the opening night program with a first race post of 6:50pm. This year, Tioga is expanding their reach with their weekly racing show being seen in more areas and a pre-race handicapping show ontheir simulcast network being hosted by harness veteran Nick Salvi. Nick's insights should provide handicappers unfamiliar with the Tioga horsemen a good leg up fo their handicapping. Let me remind you that Tioga Downs continues their takeout cuts from last year so wagering on Tioga remains a great value.
Looking at the opening night card, there are some new faces showing up at Tioga Downs. With Pompano Park now racing most of the year, the annual exodus of horses from Pompano to Tioga has been reduced to a trickle so expect to see some new horsemen coming in. Ed Hensley a former California driver who has been racing at Fraiser Downs in British Columbia shifts his tack east this year.Greg Gismore, the former Ohio reinsman who has been racing down state has decided to come to Tioga Downs as well.and we will be seeing John Butenschoen from Illinios racing at Tioga Downs.
Here is my final analysis of the opening day card; they represent the final driving changes and scratches so the betting numbers are accurate. I hope to have Sunday's selections completed and posted by Saturday but they will be in a separate entry.
Tioga Downs, Saturday May 7 - First Post 6:50PM
1st Pace - $16,500; FM Open Handicap
1 Leanback Coco (Fluet, 7-2) - Raced well at Chester, looking for a better mile this week.
6 Semjac Legacy (Merton, 2-1) - Brainard traineee winner of two Open Handicaps at Vernon, can't discount.
4 Artistry in Rhythm (Holliday, 8-1) - Been racing well at Buffalo, may pick up game on the larger oval.
2nd Pace - $4,200; Non Winners of 1 PM Race Lifetime
4 Idealpokeher (Grismore, 5-2) - Stopped early last year at two but comes in with a 1:55.1 at Hawkinsville. Ready to go.
1 Shabalabadingdong (Miller, 7-2) - Lots of promise shown last year and comes off two good qualifiers. Can reverse on top pick.
5 Ms Perfect Circle (Holiday, 8-1) - Winner of 4 county fair starts last yer. Good qualifier. Should land share.
3rd Trot - $7,500; Morrisville College Sales Trot LC #1 - 3yo Colts and Geldings
4 New Zion (Krivelin, 5-2) - Winner of last at VD seems to have improved over the winter.
5 Dream Lake (Paquet, 7-2) - Has plenty of talent but jumps at the wrong time. If he stays flat may be unbeatable.
6 Warp Drive (Stark, 4-1) - Won from post eight at the Spa last time and previous efforts good. Threat with trip.
4th Pace - $9,000; FM Non Winners of $6,001 Last 5 Starts
4 Shes Everything (Merton, 2-1) - No chance in last, returns to winning level.
6 Allamerican Tout (Holliday, 3-1) - Woodbine shipper picks up better post, expect better.
1 Isn't She Lovely (Bresnahan, 20-1) - Steps up but has been never better.
9 Modern Legac (Hensley, 4-1) - Looks to land share despite poor post.
5th Trot - $7,500; Morrisville College Sales Trot LC #1 - 3yo Colts and Geldings
1 Take Heart (Grismore, 8-1) - Quit at end of mile. Lasts here.
2 Order By Texas (Allen, 5-1) - Winner of three straight. Logical selection.
8 Glorious Winner (Miller, 9-2 ) - Debuts off two qualifying wins. Post compromises
6th Pace - $4,600; FM Non Winners $2,001 Last 5 Starts
4 Our Superoperative (Lancaster, 5-2) - Finally draws inside post. Takes advantage of it.
1 Anna Sage (Chindano, 10-1) - Has been out of it, but with rail may provide value to exotics.
8 DVC Freewaytofame (Lineweaver, 8-1) - Masy be best of rest. No better than third.
7th Pace - $7,000; FM Non Winners $4,001 Last 5 Starts
3 Winbak Corazon (Fluet, 5-1) - NYSS horses should find this an easy spot.
4 Stash The Cash (Paquet, 5-2) - Just missed in Courageous Lady; ma reverse with top pick,.
6 Jmdancingsshannon (Bresnahan, 15-1) - No change in last. May squeeze in.
1 Winsmith Jess (Di Benedetto, 6-1) - Appears better than on paper.
8th Trot - $7,500; Morrisville College Sales Trot LC#1 - 3yo Colts and Geldings
5 House of fire (Schnittker, 4-1) - Blew them open in last start. Must be rated.
4 Hallin Cash (Mattison, 9-2) - Looking to pick up off decent 2yo season.
1 Vacation Credit (Holliday, 8-1) - No chance in seasonal debut; expect better.
9th Trot - $7,500; Morrisville College Sales Trot LC#1 - #yo Colts and Geldings
7 Ooga Booga (Grismore, 7-2) - Shows class from last year but must fire out from the start.
3 Proud Accolade (Mattison, 3-1) - Raced well in NYSS last year. Seems to have returned well.
4 Big Z Million (Aldrich, 8-1) - Showed improvement at Spa in last. Don't igonore.
10th Pace - $4,200; FM Claiming Handicap $4,000-$5,000
8 Eve Freeluck (Di Benedetto, 3-1) - Consistent sort even from outside. Looks to win.
5 Cosmetican (Grismore, 4-1) - Tries the bigger track of decent efforts
1 Prettyasapageant (Freese, 8-1) - Hoping trip east is beneficial.
9 Cardine Hanover (Braden, 5-1) - Bad post but drops back to winning level. Can't ignore.