Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Colt events top bill

Thursday, May 15 and Friday, May 16 finds fields of colt eligibles in splits of the the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes (PASS) at Harrah’s Philadelphia and the season’s start of New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) at the Meadowlands. At the Meadows on May 17, top-rated filly Shake It Cerry returns.

On May 15, in the first of three PASS splits, a trio of eligible colts gets in line against three with no “Trail” hopes. Returning for the fourth start of his soph campaign is Journey, the colt we feel may offer an edge in price with an improved performance. Journey has already won two of three, a better showing than his frosh season, and he enters the stakes ring with much potential. A good showing is expected as trainer Don Montagne aims this Donato Hanover product at glory in August.

The other two eligible colts, Outbust and Exodus Hanover, make their sophomore debuts, the latter a PASS winner on this surface at two as a huge choice.

Split two, worth $75,300, presents a quintet of colts with August dreams. One of our early successful discoveries from last season, Nuncio, is now in the Jimmy Takter barn at three and gets the buzz. He appears to be up against a very soft group but that doesn’t take into account possible improvements that one can only read between the lines.

We make Raise The Curtain, an eligible, a contender that may go under the radar. He raced well against Father Patrick, if we are to measure colts against Father Patrick at three, and he won his ’14 debut and was second next, both times at Woodbine.

As well, eligible Fashion Tagman has suffered some tough trips at Woodbine and will be overlooked here, possibly mores than “Curtain.” These two loom dangerous to Nuncio in this mile, if not through the season.

The third PASS division, also worth $75,300, presents one of our choices for a top earner this season, Don Dorado. He appears to have matured and to be ready to continue his late-season frosh rise to stardom. Something about his gait and general presence is strongly the same as his Hambo-winning sire and if that is an omen then Father Patrick may be in for some stiff competition heading for August. As for price, he may be worth a short price, especially if he blows the field away and a chance at the price he offers in this race begins to look humongous in the weeks to come. 

The Meadowlands brings colts together in two NJSS events. The fillies have a pair but only one is a betting race.

The first colt split is worth $21,500. It’s a contest that includes the earliest rivalry in the division with Dexter Cup-winner Sumata facing Trixton, who won over this surface impressively last week and is another in the Takter team on the Hambletonian Trail.
Add to the duo the seeming ascension of Odds On Amethyst (one of six colts by Muscle Hill, so any “sire factor” for handicapping purposes is moot), a threatening King City (though still a maiden) and a contentious Lightning Force and you have a perplexed evaluation chore. Where you would receive the best value wager is near impossible to predict but we will take the chance with Lightning Force, based on the gelding’s late-season form at two which could continue to improve.

The second $21,500 NJSS for colts offers Well Built a chance to stay on gait and begin a profitable soph season. Two of his four soph efforts found him in a gallop. His trainer, Chris Ryder, says that is a setback, having full confidence in the colt’s prowess. Well Built is coupled with another Ryder student, Southwind Poseidon, who did not race at two and is very green; both are eligible to the classic.

Muscle Network will get play as he debuts at three but he is not eligible and is coming off a qualifier where he won but broke badly. Looking to be in fine fettle and strong of gait is Martiniwithmuscle, who becomes our choice. He was lightly raced at two but graduated with his first win and has taken two straight at three.

The betting NJSS for fillies is a seven-horse field with only one non-eligible, the Chocolatier gal, Coin Collector. That one is one for two so far in a field of first-time sophs and gets our call. We have supported fillies by this terrific sire before due to a great percentage for winners and expect a great price for what should be a strong contender in the bunch.

The Meadows hosts a pair of $99,000 PASS miles on May 17. Division two will probably belong to champion filly Shake It Cerry. Post 7 in a field of seven should be no problem if she is raring to start her soph season anywhere near as sharp as she performed at two. 

In the first split we once again support Raging Sea, who failed at 3-1 last week, finishing sixth. She should improve here enough to win, perhaps at a better price?

Keep watching the Hambletonian Trail 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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