With the holiday weekend and my annual pilgrimage to Goshen's Historic Track, I have handicapped the Meadowlands Maturity a day earlier than normal. The Maturity is for 4yo trotters who were eligible to both the Hambletonian Oaks and Hambletonian last year. What makes this race unique is it is a 1 1/8 mile tilt featuring 14 horses, meaning 4 start from the second tier. All owners whose horse finishes 6th or worse will earn 1% of the purse with second-fifth place having their percentages lowered enough to cover the extra payoffs. Just in case anyone is curious, the conditions indicated that up to 16 horses would start with no eliminations; the highest money earners would get in if the race is over subscribed.
The race provides the potential for some good payoffs for those who solve the puzzle. First of all, none of these horses are showing any current lines with a race over the mile distance. In addition with two of the best horses scoring from the second tier the question is will they be able to work a good trip? At a mile, it would be extremely difficult to get involved but with the addition 1/8th of a mile, there is a better chance of the two getting involved. As for the morning line favorite, Royalty For Life (last year's Hambo winner), he makes his first official start of the year. Of course, if the USTA offered mile rates, if a horse previously raced at Saturday night's distance, handicappers would have that information available to them; now for most people, it is a guess.
As a reminder, not only is the Maturity being contested, but eliminations for the Meadowlands Pace and Mistletoe Shalee are being contested. First post on Saturday has a special 6:30 start. Those attending on track will be treated to a fireworks show after the races.
With the Maturity being the only race in the HANA Harness handicapping contest you can find the handicapper's plays by clicking here.
Without further ado, here are my selections for the Hambletonian Maturity. Have a great 4th of July.
10th Trot Meadowlands - 1 1/8 Miles; $484,850; Hambletonian Maturity - 4yos; Est. Post 9:30
1 - Your So Vain (Svanstedt, 8-1) - Winner of elimination of Kentucky Futurity last year making first start of the year. Trainer has had the horse during off season; who better to drive and train for the added distance. Definite threat first time out.
2 - Sweet Justice (Callahan, 15-1) - B-2 trotter has tough spot. Will need to come from off the trot. There are better to invest in this race.
3 - Bambino Glide (M. Miller, 15-1) - Looked good at Phl5/8. Needs to catch trip and come on late. May pick up pieces.
4 - FICO (Smith, 30-1) - Winner in last but making huge jump this race. One day he will show his potential but don't see it here.
5 - Wheeling N Dealin (Jamieson, 6-1) - Been racing credibly in the WEG Preferreds and does show ability to improve in the stretch. Look for him to compete for good early position.
6 - Royalty For Life (D. Miller, 3-1) - Hambo winner returns off three race qualifying efforts. Last qualifier was good and shows he is worthy of consideration. Don't leave off your ticket.
7 - Flanagan Memory (B. Miller, 10-1) - Another shipper from WEG. Is the type to make his own trip. May be there if top choice falters.
8 - Spider Blue Chip (Pierce, 8-1) - Jumped off in WEG; toss it. Must stay up close in the hunt to factor.
9 - High Bridge (Gringas, 30-1) - Shown little this year. Will get poor spot at start. Pass.
10 - Master Of Law (Zeron, 30-1) - Post would typically eliminate but this one appears able to factor. Lands minor spoils.
11 - Major Athens (Campbell, 30-1) - Starts the quartet of second tier horses. Any chance depends on catching trip. Expect to see him behind a wall of horses.
12 - Possessed Fashion (Tetrick, 30-1) - Front runner draws the second tier. Can't be a good sign. Pass.
13 - Bee A Magician (Sears, 4-1) - Mare has no Perfect Alliance to deal with here. Field is relatively softer but must find a way to position herself in he tilt. Would pass at anything less than 9-2.
14 - Creatine (LaChance, 6-1) - Draws the death seat. Not sure he can get involved.
Governor Christie is now on board with moving up moves to allow a casino in Northern New Jersey a full year earlier, according to North Jersey.com. While the Meadowlands is the likely site, there are other locations making their pitch.