While the sport's best horses are qualifying to get ready for their 2012 campaigns, let's take a look at a couple of races on Saturday night. The two races are the Rags to Riches final at the Meadowlands and the Open Handicap at Pompano Park.
The Rags to Riches series has been a success for the Meadowlands as it helped fill races throughout the series and gives horses that started for a claiming tag of $10,000 or less an opportunity to cash in on a lucrative final. if they were lucky to qualify for the final and owners and trainers didn't need to worry about losing the horse as there were no claiming during this series (many late closing events for claimers still allow for claiming). Being these claimers are racing for $127,950 in the final, expect a take no prisoners approach to the racing as it may be the last time these horses will be fit enough to race for a purse of this size.
As to the Pompano Open Handicap Pace, you may be wondering why I am looking at it. It is because two horses that have been wintering in Florida are making their first starts in anticipation of a northern 2012 campaign. In particular, I am talking about Stonebridge Tonic and Aracache Hanover, both of whom are are coming off solid qualifiers. It should be interesting to see how these two make out in their initial starts.
Pompano Park 5th Pace - $12,000; Open Handicap (Est. Post 8:27)
1 Yankees In Six (R Plano, 12-1) - Seems to be up against it here. Pass
2 Talk To Tony (D Clements, 10-1) - Inside post helps, but got trounced in last effort in this class.
3 B N Bad (J Pavia Jr, 5-1) - Has been quiting in the stretch. No reason to expect anything different this week.
4 Stonebirdge Tonic (J Dillander, 6-1) - Decent qualifier. Obviously has the class but it may depend on how tight #8 is.
5 Forty Carrots (W Hennessey, 4-1) - Has been racing sharp. If the two marquee horses are not tight, can take it all.
6 Rick's Sign (F Paquet Jr, 9-2) - Been close but unable to seal the deal. Not totally out of it.
7 Drive All Night (A Napolitano, 6-1) - Would be a real threat if not for the #4 and #8.
8 Aracache Hanover (B Ranger, 5-2) - Clearly the best, IF fit. Avoid if odds on.
Meadowlands 10th Pace - $127,950; Rags To Riches Final (Est. Post 10:02)
1 Rockin Glass (D Miller, 4-1) - Won two straight on the outside and now gets rail. Does it get any better for him?
2 Oscar Oscar (A Miller, 9-5) - Undefeated this year and also moves inside. Question is when do the good times end?
3 Laguna Beach (Y Gingras, 8-1) - Been close, will need a battle up front to have chance.
4 In Kenny's Honor (R Pierce, 20-1) - Seems to have gone off form. Pass.
5 Alastair Hanover (T Tetrick, 5-1) - Speed inside him. Lands share but can go better with a speed duel.
6 Float Blue Chip (S Allard, 15-1) - Has had horrible racing luck. If looking for an upset special, this is it.
7 Tyree (P Berry, 20-1) - Has been holding on. Will be lucky to pick up a check.
8 Blade Runner (D Dube, 15-1) - May benefit from move outside. Will be coming at the end, but likely will land short.
9 Colonel Moffitt (B Sears, 7-2) - Has been racing well. Should be in the money.
10 JK Kinahurra (M Johansson, 20-1) - Miller jumps off this for #2. Tells you who the Miller stable likes here.