Clearly the best night of racing at the Meadowlands thus far this year will be contested on Saturday evening starting at a special 6:30pm post time. While we will not review the entire race card, using a different format we will go over the big stakes races of the evening.
4th Race - Trot - $317,000; Stanley Dancer Memorial 3yo Open
The road to the Hambletonian is coming to an end with the Hambletonian taking place on August 2. For many, this is their final prep race coming up to the race. Reluctantly, it does appear that Father Patrick will be winning this race despite post #9 with a 4-5 morning line. Undefeated this year, it just looks like things are going and will continue swimmingly for the son of Cantab Hall. Nuncio (#7, 4-1) showed in the Beal final that he does belong with this type of racing stock, finishing second behind the top pick and liking he will pick up 2nd place again. If someone is going to 'upset' the race, I look for my third pick Trixton (#12, 3-1) to do it though upset is a poor word when someone is 3-1. He is undefeated this year and went a nice qualifier last week in a tune-up for this race. Completing the exotics is Revrac Harbour (#3, 30-1) who admittedly is a longshot. He is taking a huge hick but with four wins straight, he can't be ignored. He may add some value to the Superfecta.
5th Race - Trot - $213,500; Del Mille Memorial Trot 3yo Fillies
Designed To Be's (#1, 8-5) qualifier looks poor but when you are qualifying against Trixton, you have to ignore the race and look at her three race winning streak. She gets the nod in this race. Lifetime Pursuit (#10, 10-1) is saddled with a poor spot here but won last week in the PA All Stars and earlier this year in the Currier & Ives; if you can get decent odds, you may want to take a stab at her. Heaven's Door (#6, 5-1) is my third choice being trained and driven by Trotmeister Ake Svandstedt. She is one who has contstantly been improving; just a question of where she tops out; she could even win it all. My final pick is Shake It Cerry (#7, 9-5).
6th Race - Pace - $212.150; Mistletoe Shalee Final 3yo Pacing Fillies
Table Talk (#1, 9-2) looks to take advantage of the rail and head to victory in the Mistletoe Shalee. Sandbetweenurtoes (#3, 5-2) is the second pick in this race. Undefeated in this race, Sand can take the top spot. Galliebythebeach (#5, 8-1) is winless for the year and isn't about to win here tonight but picks up a share of the purse here. Looking to finish out the top four, I am looking at Weeper (#7, 10-1) as she had no shot in the final of the Lynch last start. Before the last race which is a toss, she has been right there. In fact, if one is looking for a long shot to take this race, Weeper is a valid play.
7th Race - Pace - $178,450; Golden Girls FFA Mares
Somewherovrarainbow (#1, 5-2) is the second choice in the morning line but gets my nod. The mare finished 2nd in the Roses Are Red at Mohawk when she had post nine and she was parked half a mile. Tonight, she gets the rail and I expect her to make the most of it. Rocklamation (#9, 8-1) is my second pick here and adds value to the Exacta. Having finished third, two lengths behind Androvette in the Roses Are Red from post ten, post nine is not a concern of mine. Androvette (#7, 2-1) tossed in a clunker last week at Harrah's coming from post eight, though parked the entire mile is a valid excuse. The question is was the race merely a toss or signs that she may be tailing off? At 2-1 and being it was an easier field she met last time, I am willing to bet against it having been just a toss. Aunt Caroline (#3, 20-1) makes her debut against older FFA company this week which is certainly a negative, but her first start back in a B-2/C-1 handicap for mares was impressive, being parked the entire mile from post ten. I certainly doubt she will take the entire race, but she would not shock me finishing better than the forecasted fourth place finish.
8th Race - Pace - $463,300; William R. Haughton Memorial
What a race this will be; perhaps the best of the night. Captaintreacherous vs. Sweet Lou, who do go with? I am taking my chances with #3 Sweet Lou at 8-5. The change in this horse is simply amazing and with a year advantage over 'the Captain, I have to ride him till the run ends. Captaintreacherous (#2, 3-1) starts right inside of Sweet Lou after having a nightmare of a start against Sweet Lou in his last race. I will dismiss that race but note Captaintreacherous was caught in his elimination start. I doubt you will get the 3-1 morning line on him. Just be aware the top two may play hardball early in the race and perhaps longer which would benefit a closer. Should this happen, State Treasurer (#4, 9-2) could be shocking them (I expect him to go off higher than the 9-2 morning line). Failing that, I am looking for Bettor's Edge (#6, 12-1) to complete the Trifecta as he has raced well in his last three starts. Captive Audience (#5, 30-1) has looked bad from the outside posts, but when he gets a better post like tonight, his efforts haven't been that bad and he may squeeze in for the Superfecta. No mention about Foiled Again (#10, 12-1)? He will get some more victories on his card, but not this time of the year. Summer is when youth wins out over age although with a perfect trip he may be able to pick up minor spoils.
9th Race - Pace - $776,000; Meadowlands Pace 3yo Open
It looks like a race of favorites battling for the victory and as a result, I will go with the second choice in the early line He's Watching (#3, 5-2) to take top honors over JK Endofanera (#2, 2-1) and deny him the North America/Meadowlands Pace Double. JK Endoranera definitely is to be feared but I went with the other elimination winner based on his effort coming off a two week layoff where the favorite qualified the week before the elimination; I feel He's Watching's effort was more impressive than the others. With the passing this week of Joseph Muscara, what a tribute it would be to him if my pick wins the race. Always B Miki (#9, 4-1) draws poorly but finished second to the morning line favorite in his elimination. Find it hard to believe he will go off at 4-1 though; I expect a better possible dividend. He does show occasional brilliance so landing in the Triple would not be a shocker. Finishing out the top four is Lyonssomewhere (#6, 8-1).
10th Race - Trot - $40,000; Miss Versatility Aged Mares
Granted, it is only a $40,000 race but this race marks the return to America of Maven for the first time since her European campaign, the return of Perfect Alliance; both facing off against Bee A Magician, so it promises to be a good race. Betting-wise? Not so sure. There is no doubt that Bee A Magician (#4, 2-1) has turned things around based on her performance in the Hambletonian Maturity against older horses. Starting from the second tier with an overland route, she managed to finish second. The question is do you want to take her at 2-1? Perfect Alliance (#5, 5-2) makes her return from a well-deserved short break going 12-11-1-0 this year, Problem is you can make a case for others in this race so the odds figure to be too short for me. Handover Belle (#6, 10-1) went a good mile against this company in her last. If you care to throw a dart in this race, this may be one to hope for. Classic Martine (#7, 3-1) won the Armbro Flight and the last leg of the Miss Versatility at Mohawk, logical selection who may be worth a shot if stays at or above the 3-1 morning line price. Maven (#7, 4-1) can't be discounted either, I just think horses returning from Europe typically need a couple starts under their belt before they are ready to return but she could be the exception . Like I said, if you must bet this race, it will be a post time selection.
Good luck to all of you this weekend.