Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dexter Cup, Lady Suffolk Present New Divisions

The Grand Circuit for 2011 launches with the Lady Suffolk (May 6) and The Dexter Cup (May 7) at Freehold Raceway.

This is the first edition of our look at eligibles for the August classics for three-year-old trotters: the Hambletonian and the Hambletonian Oaks. For all of the week's racing, see our harness blog at TwinSpires.

The $160,850 Dexter Cup, this year without elims, previews six possible Hambletonian stars in a field of eight fresh soph-colt trotters. 

The six Hambo-eligibles in the “Dexter” include colts that made some noise at two, as well as four of them are sired by Hambletonian champions.

Whitewater Rapids is one of a trio in the field trained by Ray Schnittker, no stranger to the “Trail” over the past few years. “Rapids” placed in the New York Sires Stakes Championship for two-year-old trotters to Dejarmbro, a powerhouse frosh trotter of 2010 who is not on the Trail. Rapids is a son of Credit Winner, a mighty Empire State sire that does not have a Hambo victory on his pedigree page.

Schnittker also brings in Winuendo to the Dexter. This colt is one of the final products of the ill-fated sire Windsong’s Legacy, the trotter that won the trotting triple crown. Schnittker’s other son-of-a-Hambo-winner is Musclelaneous, sired by the productive Muscles Yankee.

Other eligibles include Buzz Bomb (Windsong’s Legacy), trained by Jim Meittinis, and Jimmy Takter’s Gordo Hall, by Tom Ridge (a failed Hambo favorite), as well as Ice Machine (Muscles Yankee) from the Charlie Norris team.

Hopeless for the Hambo are two ineligibles, Justa Jersey Boy and Marcus Bi.

This is a difficult race to handicap, since the outsiders tend to be the colts that have already raced this year but have not faced the likes of the freshmen returning as sophomores to the stakes scene. Neither can you rely upon the strength of trainers to hoist a colt to sudden stardom in this event. Rarely has the Dexter been a showcase for a colt that went on to win the Hambo.

Also, this is the Freehold half-mile hosting the race and these colts can easily stammer along the four-turn trip, especially those leaving from the outside. This is why we are particularly high on Whitewater Rapids, who leaves from post 5 with Tim Tetrick, not trainer Schnittker.

The Credit Winners have produced a lot of half-mile trotters, having raced on the New York circuit more than the progeny of other sires mentioned above. The colt that defeated Rapids at the end of 2010, Dejarmbro, could destroy this field on paper, so it is no stretch to imagine Rapids conquering this event.

If he is coming back with the use of all “cylinders,” Rapid could be the early hero of this division. All the horses that could possibly be better are behind him in post position, so that edge also belongs to him.

The Lady Suffolk will be contested in two divisions, each worth $39,825. In the mix there is only a trio of “Oaks”-eligible fillies. They are: Pacific Splash (post 4 in division one) and Don’t Cry Lindy (post 3) and Sheer Glide (post 6) in division two.

Pacific Splash’s sire is American Winner, who oddly enough was one of the last colts to win the Dexter and go on to win the Hambo. She comes from the Norris barn and is the focus of this field for us.

Don’t Cry Lindy, from post 3, is a young filly by Chocolatier, a sire we touted last season successfully as a strong producer of sharp fillies. This is the choice here, no doubt, since Sheer Glide (by Yankee Glide) gets the outside post 6. These two offer low-priced payouts but must be respected as they make their start on the Hambletonian Trail in a crowded division.

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