For the past two weeks all you have been hearing in the media is the Breeders Cup and Zenyatta. Now, Zenyatta is a special horse, perhaps a once in a lifetime horse worthy of the attention she is getting from horseplayers of all breeds. That being said, being we are a primarily a harness racing blog, I'll let others promote thoroughbred racing. The point is despite all the attention being focused on the runners, there is some top quality harness racing this weekend in the United States and Canada.
Yonkers Raceway hosts the Messenger Stakes and the Lady Maud for three year old pacers while in Canada, two year olds take center stage with the finals of the Goldsmith Maid, Three Diamonds, Valley Victory, and Governor's Cup. FFA pacers take center stage in The Indiana Pacing Derby at Indiana Downs. While not finals, Dover Downs host eliminations and prep races for the Matron Stakes and the Progress Pace all weekend. Plenty of action for harness racing fans.
The Messenger draws a short field of five this week but with Rock N Roll Heaven and One More Laugh starting from post positions four and five respectively, you couldn't ask for a better match-up. While Rock N Roll Heaven has locked up the 3yo Pacing Colt of the Year award and possibly Horse of the Year, One More Laugh's connections have a chance to win one for personal satisfaction.
Here is my analysis of some of the key races this weekend in harness racing. All these races are being contested on Saturday evening. You will note in some races I pick a long shot selection. With the selection, I list the minimum odds I would accept before wagering on it).
6th Pace - $326,680; The Lady Maud - 3YO Fillies
1 - Barks Like A Dog (Schnittker, 12-1) - Back in with 3yos. Expecting improvement tonight.
2 - Cannae Cammie (Dube, 4-1) - More than respectable effort at Pocono. No Put On A Show here. One to beat.
3 - Hula's Z Tam (P Lachance, 9-5) - Finished third in Tattersalls. Likely in the exotics.
4 - It's De Lovely (Gregory, 5-1) - Appears to be overmatched here.
5 - Naughttiltheend (A Miller, 6-1) - Shocked them at Lexington. May sneak into exotics.
6 - Discoverer (Brennan, 15-1) - Should have the best view of them all from the back.
7 - Anndrovette (Bartlett, 3-1) - Monster of the NYSS draws the worst. If she clears early she will be tough.
8th Pace - $437,100; Messenger - 3YO Open (Win and Exacta wagering only)
1 - Tobago Cays (Manzi, 15-1) - Gets $21,850 just by finishing the race. Why not enter?
2 - Urgent Action (Bartlett, 30-1) - Another one with no chance but earns a check.
3 - He's Gorgeous (Brennan, 4-1) - Half mile specialist rides the rail to third.
4 - Rock N Roll Heaven (Dube, 4-5) - The horse to beat. Need I say more?
5 - One More Laugh (Tetrick, 9-5) - Drawing outside of Rock N Roll Heaven puts him at a disadvantage. But still may challenge top choice.
10th Pace - $125,000; The Indiana Pacing Derby - FFA
1 - Lis Deo (Magee, 12-1) - Driver has a good record. Unfortunately, horse is overmatched.
2 - Won The West (Macomber, 3-1) - The logical choice. Are you willing to accept less than 2-1?
3 - Benns Superman (Shelter, 12-1) - Can't recommend.
4 - Dali (Sutton, 5-1) - Will be flying from the start. Can he hold on? Worth a chance if looking for value.
5 - Bettor Sweet (Wrenn, 4-1) - Has been racing the best of them and could add value to exacta.
6 - Freedyscooter (Tr Tetrick, 9-2) - The local favorite has never been better. Meeting tougher; can he step up?
7 - Annieswesterncard (Dillander, 6-1) - Beaten by #6 in last and draws outside of him. Can't recommend.
8 - Park Lane Deputy (Widger, 6-1) - Gave it up at the end in last start. Tailing off?
9 - Hypnotic Blue Chip (Palone, 7-2) - Returns off a sharp qualifier. Post may hurt.
5th Trot - $502,000; Goldsmith Maid Final - 2YO Fillies
1 - Cheetah Hall (D Miller, 30-1) - Managed to land last spot in her elimination. Pass.
2 - Ugotlegs (R Zeron, 25-1) - Maiden finished a credible second in her elimination. Now meeting horses from the stronger elimination.
3 - Massive Drama (Jamieson,, 8-1) - Elimination winner riding two race win streak including stakes win at Lexington. Can't ignore.
4 - Crys Dream (Ouellette, 1-2) - Smoked them in her first race back. The horse to beat but will be odds on.
5 - Creme De Cocoa (DR Ackerman, 10-1) - Filly an be a threat with an aggressive drive from trainer.
6 - As Yall Like It (Campbell, 30-1) - Picks up Campbell. At 30-1 may be worth a longshot play.
7 - Musclemad (Gauthier, 30-1) - Seems to be overmatched. Pass.
8 - Quantum Victoria (Ritchine, 40-1) - The outside post should take care of this one. Pass.
9 - L A Freeway (Macdonell, 30-1) - Raced well in sire stakes. Couldn't keep up with favorite in last. Unlikely.
10 - Cedar Dove (Pierce, 3-1) - Must overcome outside draw to get into position for the stretch run.
11 - Nuriev Dream (Lacaille, AE) - Also eligible raced well in Quebec but overmatched in elimination. Pass.
Selections: 4-10-5-3 Longshot: #5 (20-1 or higher)
6th Pace - $501,000; Three Diamonds Final - 2YO Fillies
1 - Native Daughter (Pierce, 20-1) - Jumped in last. Winner of a minor stake. Seems to be a tough spot.
2 - Idyllic (D Miller, 3-1) - Lost win streak in Crown final. Qualified in 1:54.1. Ready to rumble.
3 - Pretty Katherine (Macdonald, 6-5) - Another talented filly coming off three qualifiers. No doubt of fitness. Definite threat.
4 - All Tucked Up (Jamieson, 8-1) - Filly is meeting better here. Pass.
5 - Artic Byrd (Ouellette, 20-1) - Seems to be overmatched. Can't recommend.
6 - Ms Pacpan (Haughan, 25-1) - Panderosa filly shows a win in low level Georgian Downs event. Enough said.
7 - Strike An Attitude (Campbell, 2-1) - Came to life at Lexington including parked out victory from ten hole. The horse to beat.
7th Trot - $539,000; Valley Victory Final - 2YO Open
1 - Whiskey Tax (Waples, 20-1) - Finished third in elimination. Campbell chooses off maiden.
2 - Blue Porsche (Ritchie, 6-5) - Elimination winner was sharp. Logical choice but odds too low.
3 - Luckycharm Hanover (Campbell, 5-1) - Winner of his elimination and riding two race win streak. Can never discount an elimination winner.
4 - For You Almostfree (R Zeron, 15-1) - Well beaten in elim. Pass.
5 - The Evictor (D Miller, 12-1) - Horse prone to jumping off stride. Must show some consistency before you can consider.
6- Can Anyone Explain (Condren, 20-1) - Trounced in first effort against stakes caliber. No chance.
7 - Pegasus Blue Chip (Jamieson, 25-1) - Colt appears overmatched.
8 - Mr Web Page (Pierce, 30-1) - Maiden still looking for first win. Not coming here.
9 - Pastor Stephen (Gingras, 8-5) - Gave up the lead late last week. Expect more aggressive drive in the final.
10 - Highland Thunder (Macdonald, 30-1) - Best efforts have come in the lower conditions. Tough chore here.
11 - JR Alber (Pierce, AE) - Also eligible has shown ability but must contain bad manners.
8th Pace - $709,000; Governors Cup - 2YO Open
1 - Rollwithitharry (Gingras, 8-1) - Improving colt didn't sustain passed in elim late. Lands share here.
2 - Fashion Delight (D Miller, 7-2) - Just missed in elim from nine hole. Will be a threat from here.
3 - Shadyshark Hanover (Jamieson, 3-1) - Ultra sharp in elimination. One to beat.
4 - Ohmygosh Hanover (Macdonald, 10-1) - Can't recommend off of elimination effort.
5 - Risk Management (Campbell, 30-1) - No chance in last. Showed some life at Lexington. Maybe worth a look at long odds.
6 - Arsenal (Waples, 25-1) - Couldn't take advantage of the rail in last; can't see him from here.
7 - Foreclosure N (Filion, 8-1) - New Zealand bred can be a threat with a trip. Don't ignore.
8 - Mickey Hanover (Ouellette, 30-1) - Overmatched here. Pass.
9 - Big Jim (Hudon, 2-1) - Will bye work against Breeders Crown champion? Can't pick at these odds.
10 - Prana (Pierce, 12-1) - Post eliminates.
Selections: 7-3-9-2 Longshot: #5 (30-1 or higher)