Thursday, June 27, 2013

Earl Beal, Jr. Final and features for fillies headline weekend action

The $500,000 Earl Beal, Jr. Final is one of the top stakes on Pocono’s June 29 program. One of these colts could be the Hambletonian champ and certainly Smilin Eli is shaping into a major favorite for the August classic.

The tote board is a mystery in the Earl Beal final; it’s hard to tell who will go off the favorite but Smilin Eli appears to be the one to beat, even with his 9-hole draw. He won over his elim field with ease from post 8 so perhaps one more length outside won’t be a problem for the division’s undisputed leader at this point. “Eli” loves to go to the lead, as does the horse next to him, in post 8, Celebrity Maserati. Since that one drew to the inside of Eli, he’ll likely get a pocket ride and explode into the stretch. In the event that he doesn’t leave, he can close well too, even with slow fractions. These two are certainly the main duo, though neither will offer large odds.  

The first stake on the stellar card that night is the $50,000 Earl Beal Jr. Consolation. The seven trotters will have to deal with the talents of High Bridge. He sat a pocket trip in his elimination until three-quarters, when he made his move after pace-setter Smilin Eli; he quit from there. Expect him to be sent for the front this week, since he drew the rail. In a race with not a ton of speed, he should be in the clear.   

At Yonkers on June 29, a single Hudson Filly Trot elim is presented on the program. The event is worth $20,000 each. There are four eligible gals and the Ray Schnittker-coupled Caneel Hall and Royal Assets may have the edge in form and price. Only the latter is an eligible and, too, the most interesting of the duo. We went with him at Pocono last week and will do so again here.  

At Balmoral on June 29, two eligible colts go in the $37,100 stakes on the card. Both loom dangerous over the locals and we endorse either and both: Longwell and Deweykidumnhowe.

Tioga Downs hosts soph-filly trotters on June 28 in New York Sires Stakes (NYSS, $44,000 plus for each split) and Excelsior Series action. The first of the three NYSS should be an easy walk for Proclaiming April. She just lost as the choice last out for Trond Smedshammer and is one of only two eligibles in the field. This filly is Smedshammer’s hope for a shot at the “Oaks,” and one of his only this season.

The second NYSS has two eligibles. We like Lady Riviera, making her soph debut for trainer Linda Toscano. The filly will be a good price here and we assume she is ready against non-eligibles, where Toscano has aptly placed her for a big season’s start.

The third split for state-breds has two eligibles, both by the sire Crazed. One of them, Crazy Grigio, returns to pick up the pieces of a slow sophomore start due to gait problems. A qualifier with a strong win and a win at Vernon with a powerful brush and commanding stride make the filly look very good for another trot down the “Trail.”

The Excelsior Series offer only three eligibles in four miles that go for $12,500 each. These are the plays, since these are the gals with the papers that can still get them to the August classic. In the first split, it’s Sleep Tight My Luv; in the second split there are no eligibles; in the third one it’s Royalty Free; and the last for the program in the series goes to Playful Credit.

The Hambletonian Society has owned and serviced the Hambletonian since its inception in 1926 and presents the 88th edition at the Meadowlands, where it has been staged since 1981, There are no supplemental entries permitted in the Hambletonian and Oaks, nor are participants allowed to race on Lasix or Butazolidin. Along with the four juvenile Breeders Cup races for thoroughbreds, they are the only events in North American horse racing that prohibit the use of any race-day medication.

Keep watching this blog for updates and races involving eligibles through July and for live coverage from TwinSpires on Hambletonian day. Read race results at the special section archived at the Hambletonian Society web site.


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