Wednesday, June 25, 2014

PA and NY events on Sunday; Colts make their bids in the ‘Beal’ deal

Buffalo Raceway will contest two divisions of the $122,600 New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) for colt trotters on the afternoon of Sunday, June 29. A quintet of Hambo hopefuls will continue their journey towards the first Saturday in August on the half-mile oval in Hamburg.

Mister Anson and Expressive Action are the lone eligibles in the premier episode, contesting against six other Empire-bred trotters. While Expressive Action will be one of the favorites, be on the lookout for Daley Lovin. He was aggressive in the last splits of NYSS at Saratoga, taking command on lap two and dueling towards three-quarters. He might be fitting for the half-mile game to be played this afternoon.

The other split features three hopefuls with Karets, Rocky De Vie and Flyhawk El Durado. Flyhawk El Durado, drawing post eight, has the speed to get into contention, even though his speed could not withstand the pressure of Gural Hanover, who starts from post six. With a tactical steer, Flyhawk El Durado could put up a fight with the likely favorite, even though he is the logical second choice. 

PA All-Stars events adorn the June 29 program at Pocono. Shake It Cerry comes back in the third of three episodes for filly trotters and we like her again. She is just too good to ignore at any time, though her price offerings are minuscule, at best.

The event's first split seems to belong to Broadway Socks. She is sharp right now and has it over this field. Again, price will be an issue if you make it one.

Finally Lifetime Pursuit dominates the second split, so key her and land an exotic or two, as upsets in this trio appear slim to none. 

The Earl Beal, Jr. Final has turned into a very big deal for soph-colt trotters, especially those en route to the August classic. The “Beal” is worth a half-million dollars and that has earned it a major spot on the Hambletonian Trail. Since its inception, however, for various reasons none of its winners have gone on to victory in the Hambo.

Dejarmbo won the first; he was not eligible for the Hambo. Googoo Gaagaa won the second; he had a pacing sire so he was not eligible for the Hambo; and Corky got into the Hambo final but finished third to Royalty For Life.

This year’s Beal presents nine giants of the division to date, including the season’s first meeting between the Jimmy Takter duo Father Patrick and Nuncio (his other colt giant, Trixton, is not here). At two, Nuncio was trained by Jim Oscarsson and was second best to “Patrick” in the Breeders Crown elim (which we supported on these blogs) and final.

Also present in the Beal due to strong elim action are a few colts that may become challenges to Takter’s duo, though the domination of Patrick seems undaunted. Here are some comments on the rest of the field:

Amped Up Hanover
The Ron Burke trainee is the least of Takter’s worries. Even with the inside post and the passing lane this guy needs the front to collapse for a path to the finish line, much like Domethatagain received last week at Pocono to beat Captaintreacherous.

Harper Blue Chip
This guy is improving and seems fearless, two elements that may mean he has not peaked. Those are dangerous qualities to have this time of the season as the dominant duo is at a peak (have we really seen the best of Patrick?).

Don Dorado
We have felt from the beginning of the season that if any colt was to build up enough steam to beat Patrick it would be this guy. He is getting better by the mile and when we see the best he has to offer at three it may be a major threat to Patrick (we already feel he will be better than Nuncio).

Along with “Armed,” this guy has a lot to prove but trainer Noel Daley may be moving him along more slowly than what has shown in only four races that make him the member of the field with the least earnings at three.

Well Built
Some of his gait issues clouded the start of his season and now we are edgy about how well built his stride may be, so to speak. On a good day he is fast and strong but by comparison to Patrick and some others here Well Built presents second thoughts.

Charlie Norris has never had a colt of this caliber and in another blend of crop this trotter may have been the top dog. But he has not shown the guts to topple the Takter team and he may have gotten as good as he will get.

Tom Fanning’s colt is getting some tough trips and bad posts, hampering most of his attempts to be a giant killer. He may have it in him because his Dexter Cup wins were impressive but he won’t get a chance to prove it nose to nose with bad posts and top-rated traffic.

On paper, Father Patrick is still the best but the Pocono oval can whip up a storm with a large hot field that presents adversity beyond repair in a single mile. A case in point is how Royalty For Life swept the Hambletonian heats but was humbled using his heat on the outside at Pocono in the Colonial.

The few scenarios that beat Father Patrick place any focus of upset upon Harper Blue Chip, Don Dorado and Sumatra, and that three will offer some hefty payoffs, probably in that order.

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.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

NY, Ontario, kick off stakes week

Preparation for the August classic is now beginning to reach full swing, with two divisions of the $124,800 New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) for fillies at Tioga Downs on Monday, June 23, and two divisions for colts of the Ontario Sires Stakes (ONSS) at Mohawk Racetrack on Tuesday, June 24.

The opening division of the NYSS features three hopefuls, Lindys Crazy Dolly, Slice Slice Baby and Glowngold. Yet, the interesting gal in this field is Maud Blue Chip. She makes her second start off of a month layoff, as well as her second start with Lasix. Since her debut was at Buffalo, it can be tossed out, since a half-mile oval may not be ideal for a return. She’ll start from post 5 and hopefully travel a better mile.

Market Rally highlights the second division, coming off an easy win against NYSS competition, the "Oaks" hopeful will likely take a majority of the wagering. The other eligible, Beauty Of Gray, appears to be her main threat, traveling first over to finish second in her NYSS division last week. She draws the rail, allowing her to go an easy mile to try and defeat the NYSS freshman champion.

Only one division of the ONSS features eligible colts. The duo in that division is comprised of Entranced and O Narutac Perfetto, who might be the best of the bunch in the second split. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Takter colts split divisions in Earl Beal, Jr. elims; more colts in New York

Among the eliminations in a stakes-filled program at Pocono on Saturday, June 21, two elims for the Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial feature some of the top glamour-boy colt trotters thus far this season. Who’s missing? Arguably the best of them, Trixton, is resting after his big win last week at Mohawk. This means he will not be able to face Father Patrick, who is in division two and handles the first event of the season that goes beyond Pennsylvania-breds.

Nuncio is in division one, so he doesn’t have to face his stable mate (when Nuncio began to make noise at two he was not with the Jimmy Takter team, as he is this season). Nuncio and Father Patrick are the only Takter colts in these blends; the rest are those that want to be giant killers.

In round one, the first of the $25,000 elims, we could be motivated to try to beat Nuncio, if only because he will be bet so heavily that he could wind up an underlay. We have had a fancy for Don Dorado and though we like him to make the final, winning this elim may be too much from the outside considering what is going on in two of the posts inside of him.

In post 3 we find the ever-improving and poorly named (a personal opinion, of course) Datsyuk. The Charlie Norris trained and driven colt has a real shot at a trip to New Jersey in August if he keeps up the aggressive work (three for four wins, one place).

Chris Ryder’s Well Built may have gait issues but when he is smooth he rocks well and easily. Along with Datsyuk, these two could deliver Nuncio his first loss, though he is bound to make the final. Datsyuk would be our first choice, assuming he will offer a decent price. Well Built is the other to use in league with Nuncio in exotics.

In the second division we won’t give any of the six challengers of Father Patrick any shot to be second or worse because Father Patrick appears as seamless as he was at two and he has made more money than all of his foes in this elim division without breaking a sweat and he has zoomed on this oval in one of his three wins (from three starts) this season.

Harper Blue Chip is getting better and he was real strong against Trixton in Canada last week, so he could be best of the rest of the “also-trotted” group. Sumatra is also one that may be overlooked by bettors and who deserves attention. Tom Fanning’s colt may not have shown us all he has yet and along with the aforementioned he could participate in the exotics and most assuredly will make it to the final.

Saratoga Raceway will contest three divisions, two containing Hambo hopefuls, of the $177,300 New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) on Friday, June 20.

The initial division features two eligibles, Expressive Action and Flyhawk El Durado. While Expressive Action is the sharpest of the field of six, Gural Hanover has the speed to get involved in the mile. With this being his second start back, he seems like the logical choice on the value spectrum.

Since the second division lacks hopefuls, the spotlight shifts to the final division, where Lukas Hall is the lone hopeful racing against five other foes. He returns off of a layoff onset by his break in the Empire Breeders Classic elimination, as well as adds lasix. His inside draw also makes him the one to beat. 

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.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pocono presents filly stakes

Wednesday, June 18 “Oaks” eligibles battle in two Pennsylvania Sires Stakes (PASS) at Pocono Downs.

Nine gals take to the gate for the first division, worth $98,100. Only three in the field are not aimed for August.

Donatella Hanover is a Jimmy Takter student that has taken a back seat to the herd of successful hopefuls coming from his barn. She has been a fan choice and failed three times this season and won only once. Still, she cannot be dismissed here. As well as coming to Pocono for the first time this season, she is well placed here and may revert to showing early foot against this bunch, as she has been out-paced at the Meadowlands, Meadows and Philadelphia recently. As well, even with the Takter brand, she will offer a good price.

Another $98,100 is on the line in the second PASS for femmes. The only way to describe this mile is to compare five eligibles and two non-eligibles to one filly. That reads: a field of eight verses Shake It Cerry.

One of the reasons Donatella Hanover is not a talked-about Takter homey is Shake It Cerry. She is three for three so far and on a path to make Bee A Magician’s champion 2013 season look less than spectacular. “Shake” is seamless in her gait and when she at last lets out the speed, she will prove to be faster than “Bee.”

So, what does this field have to offer her in the way of competition? If you find out, email us at TwinSpires and we will take your opinion into consideration. In the meantime, Team Takter’s accountant should take out his black-ink pen for another positive entry because this purse money is a wad he or she can take to the back, literally.

Don’t be surprised, by the way, if Lifetime Dream wakes up enough to make this a Takter exacta.

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.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Goodtimes, PA sires stakes test colts, Buffalo fillies come out

Among the $2.4-million in stakes action on Mohawk’s premier stakes night, June 14, the Goodtimes Final features a few prominent sophomores who are striding well into the first Saturday in August. Half of the 10 for the $272,100 mile are eligible for the classic, including Flyhawk El Durado, Trixton, Il Sogno Dream, Speak The Truth and Harper Blue Chip.

Trixton heads into the final with a four-win streak, with the combined margin of victories 26 ½ lengths. The dominant performer from the Jimmy Takter barn deserves to be an odds-on favorite but that doesn’t necessarily mean he cannot lose.

One of his few challengers is Harper Blue Chip, who was the runner-up to Trixton in the second elimination. Making his soph debut, he coasted around the oval, residing 4 lengths off of Trixton at the finish. Since he has a start under his belt, the Ontario Sires Stakes champion should give a better effort, especially since the big money is on the line.

Trixton’s other rival is Il Sogno Dream, who was the runner-up to Flyhawk El Durado, the winner of the first elimination. Adding hopples last start, he sat an easy trip and gave pursuit to Flyhawk El Durado once given room in the stretch, coming only ¾ lengths short of victory. While Trixton will be a tougher challenger, an easy trip and second start over the track should equal an improving horse. 

At Pocono the same night, more colts battle in three divisions of the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes, with purses of $73,000-plus each.

Three hopefuls go in round one, with our support for DD’s Hitman intact. He is ready to cash a win after two starts and one third and in a good spot from post 3 to beat the obvious choice, Amped Up Hanover. The other eligible is JJ Alex.

In the second of the trio, we will seek Nuncio’s defeat for the value probably offered Don Dorado. He is improving every race and seems ready to make it known he is around to stay on the journey to August.

There is nothing to say about division three but Father Patrick.

New York-bred gals are set to contest in the $118,200 New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) on Sunday, June 15 at Buffalo Raceway. Four "Oaks"-hopeful fillies will square off against eight others in two $59,100 divisions.

Division one features two eligibles, Glowngold and Beauty Of Gray. The latter of the two could be value in this field of six, having experience over a half-mile oval. She also raced well in the Empire Breeders Classic. Looking back to the end of her frosh campaign, she traveled first over against the best in the NYSS final, faltering slightly. She has two starts under her belt, which could be a sign that she’s ready to strike.

The other division consists of two hopefuls, Market Rally, who is the NYSS frosh champion, and Gammy’s Girl. While Market Rally is among the top contenders in this race, don’t overlook Keep The Cash. She heads into this race winning her last three races, one being at Western Fair (a 20-length recovery from a break). She is making her way up the class ladder and could be up to the challenge these gals will present. 

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.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

‘Empire’ championships highlight hopefuls at Vernon

The Empire State is once again in a spotlight, with its top colts and fillies competing in the Empire Breeders Classics (EBC) this Sunday, June 8, at Vernon Downs.  

The filly EBC carries a purse of $217,725, with three August-classic hopefuls competing for a piece (Glowngold, Beauty Of Gray and Slice Slice Baby). The nine gals lining behind the gate for this event make it a wide-open affair with value in many of our options. Of the two elimination winners, Crediama appears to have the most value. She won her elim impressively, sweeping by horses to take the lead and draw clear to a 3-length victory. That effort shows she has awakened and could be even stronger heading into the final. Slice Slice Baby might offer a good price in the exotics, with her closing ability compensating for her draw of post 9. Keying her with the favorite, likely to be Avalicious, might provide for a nice trifecta.

A trio of eligible colts comprise the nine-horse field in the $215,125 colt EBC final for the boys--Karets, Explosive Action and Rocky De Vie. Karets and Explosive Action won their eliminations last week, assuring them as probable favorites in this race.

Yet, the Trond Smedshammer-trainee Hallanet has shown promise in his two starts of 2014. Finishing third in a sires stake at Tioga, he followed it with a third-place effort to Karets in his elimination. Hallanet had made a move to the lead around the half, which could be the culprit for his faltering, although he was only a neck from victory. He draws well to get a stalking trip, something he needs to have any chance to win.

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. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Goodtimes will be had by colts

It’s time to head north, colts, because the Hambletonian Trail takes us to Mohawk for two weeks. First, the boys will battle in the Goodtimes elims on June 6. There are two divisions, each worth $30,000, and the best of these miles return next week for the final.

Four Hambletonian eligibles are included in the first field, with six just looking for some decent paydays. Certainly, Il Sogno Dream is yet to make the noise he is capable of making and there could be some problems getting loud enough to do so from post 9 but don’t count him out. His sires stakes effort two races back was an 8-hole journey at the Meadows and he was showing some muscle before breaking, which put him out of the contest. He qualified brilliantly afterwards. It’s always great to catch a winner before he or she reveals true talent to the majority of bettors. This could be one of them.

Of course Flyhawk El Dorado, who we liked from the start of the season, will have a lot to say about this affair, though his recent record will attract chalk players. The rest of the field looks like they will have to struggle, as Skates N Plates and Entranced, the other two hopefuls, look like they may get small shares on class alone.

In the second round for the Goodtimes boys, five eligible colts meet five others for berths in the final. And look who is here to guide them: Trixton. Jimmy Takter’s versatile son of Muscle Hill has been on fire, winning his recent three stakes with a total of 21-some-odd lengths. He has speed and he is not afraid to be a one-dimensional colt using it for all it is worth. If he were to be challenged here, two colts would take positions.

Harper Blue Chip has qualified twice and debuts his soph campaign from post 9 in this field. He should be a contender but we don’t know if he can open his soph season beating Trixton. On the other hand, Mister Bs Way may have what it takes to meet the first tier of talent en route to August. He is here and not at Vernon for the “Empire” finals because he broke in that elim and finished fourth as the even-money choice against tough stuff . He should wind up the best wager if you go against Trixton.

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.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Currier & Ives paint filly pictures

On Wednesday, June 4, the Meadows presents a trio of Currier & Ives events for soph-filly trotters.

For $31,120, six "Oaks" hopefuls compete in division one, the first five at the gate versus Shake It Cerry.

The dynamic Donato Hanover progeny from the Jimmy Takter barn has only finished in second place twice at two and has opened her soph career with a pair of stunningly easy victories. So far at three, she is simply faster and more splendidly gaited than any division member. Our forecast is that she may be better than Bee A Magician, last year's arguable Horse of the Year that so dominated her division--the only foes she faced--that she won all of her efforts. Team Takter looks to be locked and loaded in both glamour divisions and it is going to take divine intervening to stop him.

Shake It Cerry will win division one and with only five others in the contest, all wagering appears moot.

Division two is worth $31,620 and presents seven soph females. The two hopefuls hold all the cards. Morning-line choice Broadway Socks hasn't gotten into her best gear yet as she looks for her third-straight win. The other hopeful, Martini Master, could get to "Socks" given the right trip and may be worth the win bet with the exacta boxed. She gets a pass on her loss last out and should race back to her sharp second the race before.

A sextet lines the starting gate in the third Currier & Ives, worth $31,120. Takter's Lifetime Pursuit should be the choice since she is one more in his powder-keg battalion of trotters this season. The pair of hopefuls in the rest of the field include Passing Jetta and Westfiftyfirst.

Passing Jetta is the lone Oaks hopeful by sire Lear Jetta. Jonas Czernyson trains her. She has won her first start at three and has not proven to be on the same level she was at two when Lifetime Pursuit beat her. We'll take a shot with her this time around since we expect some value versus the Takter terror in post 1/