Stakes Season kicks into high gear this weekend with stakes action at Freehold Raceway and the Meadowlands. Today at Freehold Raceway is the Lady Suffolk for three year old trotting fillies and tomorrow Freehold hosts the Dexter Cup for trotting colts. Saturday night also brings us the Berry Creek for three year old pacing colts as well as eliminations for the Graduate for FFA Pacers.
We will pass on discussing the Lady Suffolk. Not only does the two divisions of five horses each make the races unbettable, but with seven of the ten horses making their first start of the year, these races are more fitting for Historic Track in Goshen where there is no wagering. For all practical purposes, these races are glorified qualifying races.
Quite honestly, I don't understand the logic of having the Dexter Cup run as a single dash with eliminations, and the Lady Suffolk being run in divisions. Not only is it the lack of consistency of companion stakes; you are certainly not making the race attractive to the owners of the majority of three year old filly trotters. It is hard enough to get stakes horses to show up to race on a half mile oval, but do you expect them to show up to race for only $40,000? If the race was run as a final with a $80,000 purse; not only would you possibly attract more horses, the horses may actually show up with some starts under their belts.
Now, the Dexter Cup on Saturday is worth looking at. This race is a favorite of Ray Schnittker with him winning six editions of the Dexter Cup since it has been moved to Freehold. This year, Schnittker trains three (Flex the Muscle, Shaq is Back, and Big Stick Lindy) of the entrants in this eight horse field so expect him to make a serious challenge for win number seven. I expect Shaq Is Back to win the race, but Big Stick Lindy, with Schnittker driving from post position eight, could be an interesting prospect with an impressive win in his last start at Saratoga in a nw4500L5cd trot where he drew off by nine lengths. I also expect Senor Glide and Flex the Muscle to be heard from in this race.
Since we are looking at the Meadowlands for the Graduate and the Berrys Creek, let me give a brief mention regarding the so called Invitational pace being contested. Pilgrims Toner has been on amazing tear but the competition he has been against has not been true FFAllers. Once he starts having to compete against horses like Shark Gesture, Won The West and Bettor Sweet when they are race fit, reality will set in. Saturday night, Pilgrims Toner needs to contend with Southwind Lynx who made more than a respectable showing in the now completed Levy Memorial series at Yonkers Raceway. My pick for the Invitational is Southwind Lynx, Pilgrims Toner, and Golden Receiver.
Here are my detailed selections for the Berry Creek Final and Graduate eliminations.
4th Pace - $50,000; Graduate Elimination (1st Div) - FFA
1 Hypnotic Blue Chip - Winner last week going against some better horses. May be overplayed.
2 Won The West - Expect improvement off last. Pick to win.
3 Drop Red - This is much tougher company. Pass.
4 Annieswesterncard - Better post but still facing better.
5 Lisagain - Not ready to call this one a true FFAller.
6 Share The Delight - Given freshner. Looking to qualify for next week.
7 Jeremy's Successor - Should improve with return to the mile oval.
8 Corky Baran - May have seen his best earlier this year.
9 Mr Wiggles - Goood recovery off miscue in last. Post hurts his chances.
5th Pace - $220,000; Berry's Creek Final - 3yo colts and geldings
1 Morgan Shark - Should improve but still has a lot to overcome.
1A Four Starz Trace - Will not be able to substain his drive.
2 Pan Shui - Tough Spot. Weaker part of entry.
2A European Union - Could upset this field if #5 falters despite poor post.
3 Foreign Officer - Last weeks win was with weaker. Going against better this week.
4 Kyle Major - Winner last week will be one of the main contenders.
5 Rock N Roll Heaven - After two races, he may be ready to take it all.
6 Cambassador - Don't see him against these this week.
7 Fred and Ginger - Share with a trip.
8 Shark's Legacy - Draws poorly this week.
6th Pace - $50,000; Graduate Elimination (2nd Div) - FFA
1 Mucho Sleazy - What is he doing here?
2 Chasin Racin - Classic example of a 4yo trying to take on the older FFAllers early in the year. Pass.
3 Jovial Jester N - Appears overmatched. Pass.
4 Bettor Sweet - Prepped well. Second best.
5 Pacinello - Not with these.
6 Shark Gesture - Should be tighter off first start. The one to beat.
7 Blueridge Western - Tough spot.
8 Dial Or Nodial - Second start on lasix. Could land share.
For those of you looking to take advantage of the reduced takeout rates at Tioga, here are selections for Saturday evenings card.
Tioga Downs - Saturday, May 8
1st Pace – Non-winners of 1 (Mares 2) Pari-mutuel races lifetime
4 – Ghostly Delight 15-1
6 – Prince Polygon 5-2
5 – Chatty Kathy 7-2
2nd Trot – Class C-1
9 – Seven Bends 9-2
5 – Miss Rambo 12-1
1 – Ebba’s Yankee 5-1
3rd Pace – Non-winners of 2 (Mares 3) Pari-mutuel races or $6,500 lifetime
3 – B Street Smart 3-1
6 – Major Work of Art 2-1
7 – Cruiseomatic 12-1
4th Pace – Winners of 1 but not more than 3 pari-mutuel races or $15,000 lifetime
1 – Snow Dog 5-2
4 – Southwind Maize 3-1
2 – Sisyphus 6-1
7 – Prince Tasman 12-1
5th Trot – Class C
6 – Broadway Score 8-1
7 – Double D Fine 8-1
8 – Swiss Star 5-1
6th Pace – The Kenneth J – Late Closer #1 – 2nd leg (1st division)
8 – Virtual Escape 7-2
2 – Mystery Island 5-2
3 – Tim Whiskers 8-1
7th Trot – Class B
2 – Ten Yard Penalty 5-2
5 – Court Cost 5-1
4 – Keystone Thomas 3-1
9 – Asolare 6-1
8th Pace - The Kenneth J – Late Closer #1 – 2nd leg (2nd division)
4 – Upfront Cosmo 6-1
7 – Gentleman Friend 7-2
2 – Takemewithyou 9-2
9th Trot – Class A Handicap
8 – Badboy Paparazzi A 5-1
4 – Cross Creek Photo 10-1
7 – Yankee Nola 7-2
10th Pace – The Kenneth J – Late Closer #1 – 2nd leg (3rd division)
5 – Cmon Blaze 4-1
1A – Harmony Oaks Rengo 7-2
3 – Upto 8-1
11th Pace - $4,000 Claiming
1 – Briarwood Rex 4-1
6 – Iam Billy The Man 10-1
5 – J D;s Sweet Art 6-1
12th Trot - $4-$5,000 Claiming Handicap
6 – Great Thunder 4-1
7 – Peggy Dee 12-1
4 – Talkabout Joy 3-1
3 – Image of Ship 8-1
Dean over at Pull the Pocket talks about racing using slots as welfare instead of using it to improve the sport. Make sure to catch his entry.