The Road to the Hambletonian begins this weekend at Freehold Raceway with the $160,850 Dexter Cup for 3YO trotters. While the road to the Hambletonian starts with this race, truth is very few of the winners of the Dexter Cup show up for Hambletonian Glory. This is a race Ray Schnittker has particular success in. Technically this is a final but being only eight horses entered the box, there was no need for an elimination race.
Saturday, Freehold - 12th Trot; $160,850 - Dexter Cup Final - 3yo Open
1 Ice Machine (D Miller, 7-2) - 2 for 2 this year, but seems to be up against it today.
2 Winuendo (Brennan, 9-2) - Schnittker trainee seems overmatched here.
3 Justa Jersey Boy (A Miller, 5-1) - Has not show much success thus far this yaer.
4 Marcus Bi (Dube, 3-1) - The 'new' horse. Winner of 4 out of 5 and finished 1/2 length behind Pastor Stephen in Qua. One to beat.
5 Whitewater Rapids (Gregory, 10-1) - NYSS horse tries open company.
6 Buzz Bomb (Campbell, 6-1) - Fair debut but needs more seasoning.
7 Musclelaneous (Schnittker, 8-1) - Expect him to gun for lead and attempt to hold. Can he hold it? Probably not.
8 Gordo Hall (Takter, 12-1) - Yes it's Takter, but post should eliminate.
Uncoupled: Winuendo, Whitewater Rapids, and Musclelaneous
With thirteen horses entered into the Graduate, an elimination heat was required. The three highest earning horses were given a bye which means Foiled Again, Giddy Up Lucky, and Western Shore automatically advance but do not get to choose their post in the final. With those three advancing, the top seven horses advance to next week's final with the winner choosing their post. Today, we see how St Elmo Hero, an incredible success story, succeeds against the true FFA horses. With some of hte top horses making their seasonal debut, I am looking for an upset.
Saturday, Meadowlands - 10th Pace; $50,000 - Graduate Elimination - FFA
1 Atochia (Gingras, 7-2, pp 1) - Raced well in Levy but this is a different group.
1A Won The West (D Miller, 7-2, pp 5) - Makes seasonal debut off two strong qualifiers. Ready at first asking? Let odds be your guide.
2 Bettor Sweet (Campbell, 6-1, pp 2) - Jumped off in prep; never a good sign.
3 We Will See (B Miller, 8-1, pp 3) - Winner in Chester overnight. May be upset selection.
4 St Elmo Hero (Pierce, 5-2,, pp 4) - Great story, great test but not for me at these odds.
5 Vlos (A Miller, 15-1, pp 6) - Would require a form reversal to consider.
6 Hypnotic Blue Chip (Lachance, 8-1, pp 7) - Frustrating sort occasionally shows his potential. Tongiht?
7 Schoolkids (Berry, 10-1, pp 8) - This field is too deep for him.
8 Dial Or Nodial (Allard, 15-1, pp 9) - Soon to be millionaire hampered by post position.
9 Lisagain (Smith, 9-2, pp 10) - May be a long night from out here.
Coupled: Atochia and Won The West
With only ten horses entering the Arthur J Cutler Memorial, there was no need for any elimination race. Slave Dream takes the week off and bypasses this prep race. This is a very deep field of FFA trotters and may very well kick off the race for Horse of the Year. Once again, there are much better horses in this racing making their seasonal debut but Neighsay Hanover has been racing incredibly sharp at Yonkers from the outside posts makes me want to consider him at the right odds. No, he is not the class of the race, but he has never been better though his record doesn't show it.
Saturday, Meadowlands - 5th Trot; $40,000; Arthur J Cutler Memorial Prep - FFA
1 Buck I St Pat (B Miller, 4-1) - Kicks off seasonal campaign off strong qualifier at Chester.
2 Corleone Kosmos (Campbell, 8-1) - Returns from Pompano Park fresh off victory.
3 Neighsay Hanover (Gregory, 15-1) - Normally would dismiss, but can't deny recent efforts. Long shot play.
4 Celebrity Hercules (Allard, 10-1) - Aired it out in Georgian Downs qualifier. Meets much better.
5 Enough Talk (Pierce, 3-1) - Defeated in seasonal debut against Arch Madness. Should be tighter. One to beat?
6 Looking Hanover (Gingras, 10-1) - This race seems to deep for him.
7 Don't Know Chip (M Lachance, 8-1) - Another one I can't see.
8 Hot Shot Blue Chip (D Miller, 12-1) - Horse keeps beating self with breaks. Making seasonal debut.
9 Lucky Jim (A Miller, 5-2) - Didn't handle the track in last and qualified sharply. Figures to land share.
And then there is THAT race. People have asked me who I like so I will give my picks. Now before I give you my selections, it is important to remember on my ranking of handicapping ability, I rank myself in the following order: Harness Racing, Greyhound Racing, Quarter Horse, and Thoroughbred. In other words, I handicap thoroughbred races about as good as the typical TVG host handicaps harness racing. So at your risk, I present my 2011 Kentucky Derby selections (I promise my handicapping method is more sophisticated than throwing darts).
2011 Kentucky Derby
10 Twinspired (Smith, 30-1)
1 Archarcharch (Court, 10-1)
11 Master of Hounds (Gomez, 30-1)
18 Uncle Mo (Velazquez, 9-2)
I really had no intention of betting the Derby, but with picks like this, if it comes in, I will never forgive myself. Good luck with your picks.