Saturday evening is the C$1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack. Also on the card are some additional stakes races. Admittedly, the favorites look hard to beat, but when they are racing for this amount of money, the races should be driven more aggressively. Hence, in most of these races, we are going to try to beat the favorite, especially since they figure to go off odds-on.
Before I go on to my picks, I must comment on an article I saw belatedly regarding Lou Pena and the impact it had on the Belmont Stakes having a detention barn. I personally think it had more to do with the reputation of I'll Have Another One's trainer, Doug O'Neil having received national exposure. Where I have a problem with the author is suggesting racing keep its scandals under wraps; if someone is caught cheating or being dishonest, get rid of them without drawing attention to it.
It is somewhat problematic to suggest we try to hide scandals, but I understand where the author is coming from. My problem with the writer's suggestion is his comments that we kept things underwraps in the past and now we don't. Quite honestly, I would suggest we were more open in the past than we are now. When I started my handicapping career, I remember reading in harness programs a list of fines and suspension for offenses which occured at a particular track. The DRF would list the fines and suspensions from the stewards around the country in their newspaper; not exactly hiding the problems. I can't speak for the DRF, but when was the last time you saw fines and suspensions listed in a harness program? You don't see it anymore; I would suggest on the whole the industry tries to keep the dirty laundry quiet but the Internet and the 24 hour news/sports channels which need material allow these scandals to go public.
Yes, as the writer suggested, back in the 1960's and 1970's when the public felt drivers were crooks, they kept coming back. It had nothing to do with us keeping the dirt from going public; there was no other game around. It was horse racing or horse racing. Now, we have lotteries and casinos; the public has options it didn't back in the good old days. When they feel wronged, they have another option these days and they take advantage of it.
Anyway, back to Saturday night's races.
A comment about the Mohawk program. I noticed they are publishing some 'average' race times for certain tracks. Obviously, this is out of date as they show an average race time of 1:56.3 for the Meadowlands. Average? Other than baby races and perhaps two year old trotting races at the very beginning of their campaign, when was the last time a race went in 1:56.3 or slower? For the record, the USTA has stopped pubishing speed ratings a few years ago. A more useful chart would be one that lists track abbreviations and the average overnight purse. However, kudos to WEG for listing on their selection pages the scratch time changes, listing driver selections and more importantly, the driver-trainer ROIs for each race.
Without further ado, here are my selections for Saturday night's stakes races.
3rd Trot - $530,000; Eligantimage-3yo Fillies
1 - On The Bright Side (Palone, 25-1) - Versatile filly. Worth a look at the right odds.
2 - Win Missy B (Sears, 9-2) - Should be tighter and may last if she can rate better. Definite chance..
3 - Check Me Out (Tetrick, 3-5) - The one to beat. Likely won't offer value.
4 - Maven (Gingras, 4-1) - Bounced back in elim but this looks to be tougher.
5 - Lovely Vacation (Waples, 25-1) - Worth considering for your superfectas.
6 - Sand Violent Blu (B Miller, 20-1) - No reason to think this one will be a factor.
7 - Superstar Hanover (Takter, 20-1) - Don't see here.
8 - Valdonna (Pierce, 20-1) - May not be able to keep up with these.
9 - Miss Paris (Zeron, 20-1) - Tough spot here.
10 - Personal Style (D Miller, 20-1) - Must hope for a speed duel up front. Gets it?
11 - Delicious (Kakaley, 30-1) - Not up to the challenge.
5th Trot - $351,000; Goodtimes - 3yos
1 - Lindys Jersey Boy (Sears, 25-1) - Would be hard pressed to end up on ticket.
2 - Il Mago (Ritchie, 9-2) - No shot in last. Never ignore Ritchie when it comes to a trotter. Share with a trip.
3 - Knows Nothing (Jamieson, 5-2) - Undefeated and shows versatility. Consider.
4 - Market Share (Tetrick, 7-2) - Races best off the pace. Figures to be the betting favorite.
5 - Scary Good (Zeron, 30-1) - Not with these.
6 - Prayer Session (Magee, 15-1) - Consider for lower part of ticket.
7 - Beer Summit (Pierce, 9-2) - Draws poorly when compared to likely favorite. Share with trip.
8 - Guccio (Takter, 4-1) - Must step up game.
9- Gym Tan Laundry (Moiseyev, 25-1) - Outmatched.
10 - Mikey Hanover (Macdonell, 30-1) - Too far out to matter.
11 - Southwind Warsaw (Jamieson, 30-1) - Not in the same league as the others.
6th Trot - $376,000; Armbro Flight - Fillies and Mares
1 - Bax Of Life (Brewer, 15-1) - Seems to be out of her league.
2 - Action Broadway (McNair, 7-1) - Will be looking for a trip. Possibility.
3 - China Pearls (Waples, 7-2) - Lands share.
4 - Pembroke Heat Wave (Sears, 6-1) - May be coming into own. Dangerous with trip.
5 - Unefoisdansmavie (D Miller, 30-1) - Minor spoils at best.
6 - Cedar Dove (Pierce, 2-1) - Expect more aggressive drive here.
7 - Jersey AS (Tetrick, 7-1) - Racing well but this may be too tough.
8 - Cleopatre Duharas (Zeron, 15-1) - Winless this year. Don't see.
9 - Frenchfysnvinegar (Jamieson, 6-1) - Will fire out at start. Goes the whole way? Don't think so.
10 - Cameron Chip (Condren, 25-1) - Post eliminates
11 - Mystical Starlight (Campbell, 25-1) - Not bad first effort over the big oval. Look at if draws in.
7th Pace - $1,500,000; Pepsi North America Cup XXIX - 3yos
1 - Bettors Edge (Tetrick, 30-1) - Will be hard pressed even from the rail.
2 - Dapper Dude (Campbell, 8-1) - May challenge for the victory.
3 - Time To Roll (A Miller, 12-1) - Like the fact he can race either way. A plus here.
4 - Sweet Lou (Palone, 3-5) - The one to beat.
5 - Thinking Out Loud (Waples, 12-1) - Will look to pick up the pieces.
6 - State Treasurer (D Miller, 20-1) - Hoping for a speed duel up front. Not likely to get it.
7 - A Rocknroll Dance (Gingras, 10-1) - Impeded in stretch last week. May be worth a wager.
8 - Warrawee Needy (Jamieson, 9-2) - Should improve in second seasonal start. May not be ready yet.
9 - Pet Rock (Sears, 15-1) - Can't see here.
10 - Simply Business (Pierce, 25-1) - Don't see.
11 - Easy Again (Sears, 25-1) - Pass if he draws in.
9th Pace - $642,000; Fan Hanover - 3yo Fillies
1 - Angel Scent (D Miller, 8-1) - Has tactical ability. Lands share.
2 - Legal Entity (Macdonald, 25-1) - Seems to be in tough.
3 - Big McDeal (Jamieson, 4-1) - Expects to track the fave. Will be there if fave falters.
4 - Romantic Moment (Gingras, 5-1) - Came home in a :26.3. Lands share.
5 - American Jewel (Tetrick, 5-2) - The one to beat.
6 - Jet Wash (Filion, 10-1) - This is much tougher. Pass.
7 - Pirouette Hanover (Pierce, 6-1) - Share with best.
8 - Shelliscape (Campbell, 15-1) - May need another start.
9 - Economy Terror (Sears, 5-1) - Doubt late move will do it here.
10 - Kiss Don't Bite (A Miller, 20-1) - Don't see. Seems over matched.
11 - Cooking The Books (Moiseyiev, 30-1) - Clearly outmatched.
10th Pace - $100,000; Mohawk Gold Cup - Invitational
1 - Bigtime Ball (Macdonell, 10-1) - This field a little too deep. Tab for later.
2 - Atochia (Gingras, 9-2) - Appears to be on a downturn.
3 - Golden Receiver (Sears, 5-1) - Will go for the lead and see how far he goes. Can he rate tonight?
4 - Betterthancheddar (Zeron, 4-1) - Want to see him against this field.
5 - Aracache Hanover (McNair, 10-1) - Will head for fence and make move in stretch if room.
6 - Allthatgltrsisgold (Tetrick, 10-1) - Has a race over the track. Lands share.
7 - River Shark (Jamierson, 5-1) - Share with a trip.
8 - We Will See (Pierce, 3-1 ) - Tough mile last week. Expect improvement off of that. Pick.
9 - Alsace Hanover (Waples, 10-1) - Not against there.
Canterbury Park Deal Gets Approved - The deal to provide Canterbury Park with a purse enhancement in exchange for giving up on trying to get a racino and oppose efforts by Running Aces to get a racino was approved by the Minnesota Racing Commission by a 5-3 vote. Once again, the harness industry is getting shafted by the thoroughbred industry (to be fair, there have been times the roles have been reversed though far less often). It is a shame the two industries can't work together instead of throwing the other one under the bus when the opportunity comes.
Tioga Downs Introduces Pilot Whipping Program - Starting Saturday, new rules regarding whipping will be implemented at Tioga Downs.