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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Are You Ready for Harness Racing?

Tomorrow is it, while Hambletonian Day is harness racing's ' Super Bowl' with the strongest overall standardbred race card in North America, Jug Day is harness racing's 'Final Four'; sure some races may be of local interest but there are some races of interest to anyone that follows harness racing.

For those that say half mile track is boring, Thursday may change your mind. While the payoffs may not be big, you will see thrilling, exciting racing. You will see speed duels, three wide moves in the backstretch, and duels to the wire. More importantly, the action will be up close for everyone to see; this attracts newcomers to the sport, unlike the mile tracks where it is hard to see anything. To those doomsayers that say half mile racing is going to disappear, this race card will show you the half mile track has a place in this sport.

With 21 or 22 races (if a race off is needed) on store tomorrow (there is a two race mini card which kicks off the day) there are too many races to discuss in a blog entry, so I will focus on what I feel are the main races on the card.

5th Race - Winbak Pace, Aged Colts & Geldings
4 - Won the West (6-5)
3 - Mister Big (9-5)
2 - Atochia (6-1)

While this race is short in starters, it promises to be an exciting race. Won the West and Mister Big are the two big horses in this race. Won the West is a slight favorite in this race. He seems to be able to make his own racing luck. Mister Big has always been classy but typically needs cover to win; in a four horse field it will be more of a grinding game, something I don't think he will be able to do. Atochia is clearly a step below the top two but is able to handle a half mile track.

10th Race - Old Oaken Bucket, 1st Division - 3yo Colts & Geldings
5 - Salutation Hanover (9-2)
2 - Winning Mister (8-1)
1A - Citation Lindy (10-1)
4 - Cantabmyway (4-1)

Salutation Hanover has been a steady performer in this division and seems to have a class edge over these. Winner of PASS Championship in last and shows a credible finish in Yonkers Trot elimination. Winning Mister seems to be roudning into form and should find this field to his liking. Citation Lindy has to overcome the second tier, inside horses don't figure to leave; should land part. Cantabmyway raced will in overnights in Lexington, tested for class here.

12th Race - Old Oaken Bucket, 2nd Division, - 3yo Colts & Geldings
3 - Photoforwin (5-2)
1 - Up Front Prayer (3-1)
7 - And Heez Perfect (8-1)
6 - Road Rash (4-1)

Photoforwin does not have to deal with the division's best here; should dominate. Up Front Prayer will dangerous from rail; completes chalky exacta. And Heez Perfect has been racing well with division's second tier; may spice up trifecta. Road Rash has been improving; completes the superfecta.

14th Race - Little Brown Jug, 1st heat - 1st division, 3yo Colts & Geldings
4 - Mr Wiggles (2-1)
6 - Annieswesterncard (6-1)
3 - Keep it Real (8-1)
10- If I Can Dream (7-2)

Mr Wiggles finally draws into easier division, should win but offers little value. Annieswesterncard has quietly been having a successful season. The Jug tends to be the spot where the horse that has been under the radar explodes on to the scene; he may be that horse. Keep it Real has been given time off; should land part. If I Can Dream is compromised by drawing into the second tier. Best hope is to make it to the second heat.

15th Race - Little Brown Jug, 1st heat - 2nd division; 3yo Colts & Geldings
4 - Vintage Master (8-5)
8 - Well Said (5-2)
9 - Sheer Desire (6-1)
3 - Chasin Racin (8-1)

What a race this is shaping up to be. This may be the race of the year. Vintage Master at career best, plenty of early speed in this race but has the ability to fly late. Choice in a speed filled race to win and advance. Well Said is saddled with post position eight. Just a question if he can tuck in early. I suspect the decision made during race is to look forward to heat two. Sheer Desire can close. What is a Jug second heat without Dave Palone? Lands part though if speed duel develops he may be your heat winner. Chasin Racin has been freshened; should be heard from early and hold on to return for second heat.

17th - Ms. Versatility Final
3 - Buck I St Pat (9-5)
4 - Classic Lane (4-1)
2 - Autumn Escapade (6-1)
5 - Lavec Dream (3-1)

Buck I St Pat gets her chance to shine on the famed oval. Wins a competitive race. Classic Lane beat older at Yonkers in last start; can land second. Autumn Escapade has raced well of late, lands share. Lavec Dream needs a fast pace up front to be a serious factor in this race. If speed duel develops, she can be your winner.

18th - Little Brown Jug, 2nd Heat

Of course it all depends on how the 1st heat eliminations turn out but based on my earlier picks, Well Said wins this heat to send the Jug to a third heat race off. Annieswesterncard picks up second with Vintage Master holding on for third.

20th Race - Little Brown Jug, Race-Off

If we get this far, my prediction is Well Said wins the race-off to make this Jug one of the most memorable in recent history.

Tomorrow is my day to be a racing fan. Enjoy an excellent day of racing.

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