Some may be wondering why I am giving so much coverage to the Tioga Downs opening; almost to the point of ignoring everything else going on. A recent article in the Bloodhorse explains it. Tioga Downs is ground zero for the Tea Party in harness racing. I sensed this last year when I met and heard Jeff Gural and Jason Settlemoir speak (they kept it polite, no f-bombs there) at the USTA conference at the Meadowlands last June and we are seeing it in action here. Whether trying to keep our racing stars racing, developing new race fans, or appealing to horseplayers by reducing the takeout to current levels, it seems Tioga Downs is in the forefront. And it is not only track management. Without the cooperation of the horsemen at Tioga Downs, this takeout reduction would not have occurred.
Make no mistake about it. There are people who are hoping the Tioga takeout reduction experiment fails. Success means other tracks and horsemen will need to change the way they do business (as if the old ways are leading to success). Failure means it may be years before someone else tries to lower takeouts across the board again. For the horseplayer and those who wish the sport to prosper once again, it is important that the Tioga gambit be given every effort to succeed. If this means I need to spend a good part of a week promoting Tioga Downs, so be it.
That being said, other things are going on in this sport so you will see my blog return to its normal state in a couple of days. Today I am providng my selections for the opening night at Tioga (tomorrow) and tomorrow I will be providing my selections for Sunday afternoon's card. After that, it is back to normal.
Now on with today's entry.
The pari-mutuel menu at Tioga Downs features the Daily Double on the first and last two races on the card. Win, Place, Show and Exacta wagering is offered on all the races along with a 50 cent Trifecta. Ten cent Superfectas are offered on the fourth, seventh and last race on the program. Pick-3 wager is offered beginning with races three and six. The takeout rate is 15% on Win, Place, and Show wagering; 17% on Exacta and Daily Double wagers; 21% on Pick-3, Trifecta, and Superfectas wagers.
Yesterday, we discussed HANA's Paper and Micro-Chip Challenge. Here is a link to the Pace Advantage thread which will be listing the handicappers selections. In this link, there are the program pages for Saturday and Sunday's racing card.
Without further ado, here are my selections for Saturday.
1st Pace - $4,000; Non-winners of 1 (Mares 2) pari-mutuel races lifetime
1 Silent Hill – Had some success here last year. Rounding into form at Buffalo.
2 Major Woman – Makes pari-mutuel debut of fair qualifying effort.
3 DVC Freewaytofame – Makes seasonal debut of nice qualifier. Little success last year.
4 Sly Slugger – Can’t recommend.
5 Temotion – Makes career debut. Need to see more.
6 Innocent Fella – Ships in from Pocono seeking first win. Can’t recommend.
7 Sport Mode - Expecting better effort. May not be enough here.
8 Sydney Hanover – Poor post, poor form. Pass.
9 Major Work of Art - Impressive race at Pocono makes him the horse to beat. Overcomes post.
2nd Trot - $7,000; 10-15,000 Claiming Handicap
1 Wen-Mar’s Handsome - Veteran trotter must overcome breaking issues. Must see more.
2 Lively Man - Spa Shipper steps up. Must control fractions.
3 Affaro Hanover – Just missed against slightly easier. A question of rating.
4 Memphis Hall – Little to recommend.
5 K M Sweet Dreams - Missed time since return from Florida. Share with best.
6 Vijay Star – Don’t see.
7 Fabulous Grin – Ignore last. May be able to be contend despite post.
8 Pembroke Chip – Wait for better draw.
Selections : 7-2-3-5
3rd Pace - $7,500; Non-winners of 2 pari-mutuel or $25,000 lifetime – 3yo colts and geldings
1 It’sabouttime – Well primed to win at first asking. Ranger picked him over the #2 and the #6.
2 Extaordinary Guy – Upset winner in last. Doubt he can repeat feat.
3 Bet Together – Dropping into slightly easier class. Not out of it.
4 Mystery Island – Schnittker trainee racing well since departure from Meadowlands. Serious contender.
5 Trevor Win for Us – MI fair graduate has been racing well at Yonkers and drops into easier. Horse to beat.
6 Tim Whiskers – Still looking for first win. Can pick up share with trip.
7 Thishorseisrockin – No excuse in last. Pass here.
8 Goldstar Vincenzo – FL Bred gets poor post in seasonal debut.
4th Pace - $5,800; Late Closer - Winners of 1 but not more than 3 pari-mutuel races or $15,000 lifetime
1 Southwind Maize – Freehold shipper seems to be coming around. Threat from rail.
2 Boiler Bob The QB – Nothing to recommend.
3 Take The Long Way – Poor form. Enough said.
4 Sweetys Finale – Rapid pace should eliminate her from consideration.
5 Kolander – Expect to see improvement shortly. Is this the day?
6 Jazzmo – Drops down to a winning level.
7 Flagship Victory – Don’t ignore Canadian shipper.
8 Goalie Avenue – Post eliminates.
9 Sisyphus – Well prepped. Post only hinderance.
5th Pace - $7,500; Late Closer - Non-winners of 2 pari-mutuel races or $25,000 lifetime – 3yo colts and geldings
1 Red Stick – May land share coming from the rail.
2 Beepo And Clem – Was not disgraced in seasonal debut. Should improve off that effort.
3 Goldstar Patriot D – Figures to need a race.
4 Martin Hanover – Is he this good? Willing to find out if the odds are right.
5 Gaelic Thunder – Will find this field more to his liking. Main contender to Martin Hanover.
6 Virtual Escape – Came back well. Wouldn’t surprise me.
7 Detail Man – Tough order from this spot. Ranger opted off this mount to driver #5.
8 Northmedo Cruiser – Post eliminates this Ohio fair circuit regular.
6th Trot - $14,000; Class A Handicap
1 Ten Yard Penalty – Tough assignment
2 Rose Run Kevin – Taking on better.
3 AJS Send Money – May find this field more of his liking.
4 Blazing Winner – Tough Spot.
5 Chips Full House – Needs a start.
6 Mystic Splendor – Meeting better.
7 Flashy Lady – Post is a hindrance.
8 Yankee Nola – Seems to have huge class advantage over these. Must clear early.
7th Trot - $6,300; Class C
1 Talkaboutjoy – Needs fast pace to be a factor.
2 Marong A – Disappointed thus far this season.
3 Double D Fine – Threat with trip. Ranger's choice over the #5.
4 B Girl – Possibility if she minds her manners.
5 Clearly Possessed – No chance in last. Must consider for exotics.
6 Benns Gogetter – Unreliable at end of last season. Pass for now.
7 Miss Rambo – Qualifier signals ready.
8 Prank Player – Meeting easier. Don’t ignore.
9 Chief Cochise – Easier competition but hampered with post.
8th Pace – $7,500; Late Closer - Non-winners of 2 pari-mutuel races or $25,000 lifetime
1 Harmony Oaks Rengo – Will be a factor from the rail.
2 Takemewithyou – Makes seasonal debut. Not out of it.
3 Copy My Swag – Seems overmatched here.
4 Upto – Hasn’t been racing well but returns to the track of most success.
5 P L Dragon - Will still be a maiden after this start.
6 Cmon Blaze – Hosier shipper is the horse to beat.
7 Gentleman Friend – Has the ability to overcome the post; second best.
9th Trot - $9,500; Class B
1 Broadway Score – Has the best form and draws the rail. The horse to beat.
2 Worldly Possession – Will take a shot to overtake in the stretch.
3 Slow Poker – Seems to be overmatched.
4 Dusty Diamond – Would be a contender when flat. “When” is the key.
5 Stormont Wok – Tough spot to be in against these.
6 Valley Crown – Steps up after impressive win but failed when against these type of horses.
7 Court Cost – Usually falters at the end plus saddled with outer post.
8 SJ’s Leo – Bad actor, bad post. Just bad.
10th Trot - $4,500; Class C-1
1 Carolyn’s Mikey – Is the horse to beat.
2 Peggy Dee – Don’t see her against these.
3 Don’t Hunt Me Down – Making seasonal debut. Pass
4 Seven Bends – Well primed. Can challenge the top choice.
5 Governor Sands - Don’t see anything to recommend.
6 Ebba’s Yankee – Field more to his liking. Lands share.
7 Bobby Ray – Starting to round into form.
8 Arctura – Gets class relief, but the post negates.
9 Aunt Ruby – Also eligible draws in. Can hit the board despite outside draw.
Scratched: Lost Weight (#9)