This may be the year of the FFA Trotter with a rejuvinated Enough Talk taking on Lucky Jim through out the season. However, it would be unfair if we count Arch Madness out of the mix. While Arch Madness may not be able to make his own luck, he has enough class and ability to be heard from should racing luck go his way.
Tonight, we see these top FFA trotters featured in the $125,000 Su Mac Lad FFA trotting series final at the Meadowlands. If the final lives up to the first two rounds, fans should be treated to an exciting finish. Many people feel Lucky Jim will be able to rebound to take revenge for last week's defeat, feeling Enough Talk was able to get away with a slow middle half. My gut feeling tells me tonight it is a question of who is able to control the tempo of the race; post position being the key. The projected order of finish for the final is Enough Talk, Lucky Jim, with Arch Madness rounding out the field. Being the odds will be low, this will be a race to watch and enjoy.
In addition to the Su Mac Lad final, there is a Mare Invitational and the finals of the Jersey Girls and the Art Unger on the Meadowlands card. Here are my selections for these three races.
3rd Pace - $32,000; Mare Invitational
3 - Southwind Swallow 8-1 May upset in seasonal debut.
4 - Tug River Princess 9-2 Class of the race, may be short this week.
1 - Rile Rose 5-1 Takes advantage of rail to complete the trifecta.
6th Pace - $65,800; Jersey Girls Final
8 - Harper Lee 10-1 Strong mile last week. Possible upset with trip.
6 - Laughandbehappy 9-5 Favorite can't be disregarded. Skipped last week.
1 - World Fame 6-1 Minor spoils with trip.
7th Pace - $54,000; Art Unger Stake Final
3 - Allamerican Chief 4-1 Looks to complete sweep.
5 - Tamayo 8-1 No match for top choice.
8 - Brandon's Colt 12-1 Needs trip to be a factor.
1 - Bet the Town 5-1 Will attempt to control from the start. Usually falters.
The racing season is well underway with a trio of tracks kicking off their race meets in the next few weeks. Tonight Vernon Downs kicks off their 2010 season and on May 1, the eagerly awaited (at least by gamblers) opening of Tioga Downs with their reduced takeout gets underway. However, of the most concern to the Meadowlands is next Friday's kick-off of the 2010 Chester Downs race meet. Chester Downs has published their purse schedule and the Meadowlands is showing $10,000 claimers and three year old non-winners of 1 pari-mutuel race on their current condition sheet, clearly planning for the possibility of a shortage of horses in the entry box. Time will tell how much of a drag Chester Downs will have on the Meadowlands' horse population.
While last year, the drain of horses came predominately from Chester Downs, the Pocono Downs influence can not be underestimated, particularly with regard to claiming races. Let's compare a few claiming prices off current condition sheets.
Claiming Price Meadowlands Chester Downs Pocono Downs Yonkers
$10,000 $8,000 $8,000 $9,000
$15,000 $9,200 $10,000 $13,000
$20,000 $11,700 $12,000 $17,000 $12,000
$25,000 $14,400 $15,000 $19,500 $14,000
$30,000 $17,000 $18,000 $20,250 $16,000
As you can see, horsmen certainly have their choices as where to race. Unfortunately, horseplayers looking for quality full fields don't have a choice. The serious horseplayers stick with the Meadowlands and it looks like they are going to have to deal with cheaper and short fields.