We start the review this week with a preview for a stakes race Sept. 15, at Harrington Raceway. The $220,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial Final is the highlight of the Monday program and features some of the top older pacing males, including Foiled Again, Clear Vision, Bettor’s Edge, Heston Blue Chip and Arachache Hanover. Some lesser known steeds join the field after two elims earned them berths: Easy Again, Doctor Butch and  Tarpon Hanover. A $7,500 guaranteed Pick-4 pool (races three through six), part of the USTA’s Strategic Wagering Program, is offered on the card.


The two-time “Quillen” champ, Foiled Again, easily won his elimination on Sept. 8. Clear Vision, the 2013 defending champion, won the other elim. They both drew well enough for post not to be a major issue and they both will be public choices that will not offer much to punters. We like Heston Blue Chip, who has been more and more competitive with this group and may get a sterling trip from sizzling speed expected to launch the mile.

We began a good weekend on Friday at Freehold, where our second-and-third choices in the Charles Smith were first and second, since Well Built jumped twice. The better price was our second choice, Skates N Plates ($19.40, $5.40, $4.40) and the exacta was nailed with Hillustrious ($2.40), worth $44.40.

The Breeders Crown Countdown blog, located at Blogspot, handled the Friday Reynolds stakes at Tioga and the Milton elims at Mohawk the following night. In the favorite-laden Reynolds we won two with no surprises, as Deli Beach ($3.80, $3.30, $2.50) and Bettor Be Steppin ($2.10, $2.10 ok, n/s) won filly paces and Mcardles Lightning ($2.20, $2.10) won a colt pace. We also had Gallic Beach second ($2.80, $2.70 Exacta $8.10) and Jk Allnitelong, both colts, (n/s) third. In the Milton elims, however, we scored with Yagonnakissmeornot ($8.50, $3.80, $3).

The “Countdown” blog will continue coverage of races connected to “Crown” eligibles leading to the championship events in November (where we will cover the finals live from the Meadowlands). Don’t miss one episode on Blogspot, linked from here, and look for archived race reviews at the Hambletonian Society site.

Saturday we backed some strong favorites but the right ones, since there are still so many schools of thought on top horses in the divisions. We stayed with Father Patrick ($2.70, $2.10 n/s) in the Canadian Trotting Classic and not Trixton (see below for report on Trixton). We stayed with Shake It Cerry ($3.60, $2.80, $2.10) in the Elegantimage and she broke a track record winning at a very good price for her effort.

In the William Wellwood we had an excellent score with our first choice, the public’s second, Habitat ($5.20, $3.50, $2.90) and we nailed the exactor cold with our second choice, Jetpedia ($13.60, $7.60). That combo was worth $99.80.

Down the globe in New York we were hot in the New York Sires Stakes finals, though some of our choices were short-priced public choices. In order of prices, we scored with Cartoon Daddy ($15.40, $12.20, $5.60) in the frosh colt pace; Mosquito Blue Chip ($4.10, $2.60 n/s) in the frosh filly pace; Crazy Wow ($3.80, $3.20, $2.30) in the frosh colt trot; Gural Hanover ($2.90 n/p n/s) with Zoey De Vie second (n/p n/s) for a cold exacta worth $21 in the soph colt trot; All Bets Off ($2.30, $2.10, n/s) with Stay Up Late ($3.90 n/s) for a cold exacta worth $6.60 in the soph colt pace; and Market Rally ($2.40, n/p n/s) in the soph filly trot. We also had a third with Table Talk ($3.40) in the soph filly pace.

TwinSpires and Hoosier continue a three-pronged power-packed program for harness players. Tuesdays, wager all you want and earn 10 TSC Elite Points per dollar bet. Click here for details. Every Thursday night, there is a 20-percent bonus on hitting the Pick 4 starting at Race 3. Click here for details. And the ongoing 10-percent Pick-4 bonus every racing night on Pick-4 hits continues through the meet. Click here for details.

In between published harness blogs, follow @FrankCotolo and @TwinSpires on Twitter to get tips on Hoosier contenders you can use in your tickets. Other possibilities appear in exclusive H2W list.

H2W RESULTS

The H2W results list across-the-board prices. Also, exactas are included when a H2W horse finishing first or second completes the result with a race favorite or another H2W horse listed in the same race (an asterisk appears when both horses were listed to complete the exacta). This week, there were 39 active horses on the H2W list. Please note that Iwannashowusomethin under Seconds below is a correct price for place and show.

Winners

Smilin Eli, $20.20, $9, $5, Philadelphia
Big Bambu, $17.60, $6.50, $4.20, Saratoga
Caviart Key, $7.60, $2.60, $2.10, Yonkers
Major Stone, $3.60, $2.80, $2.70, Saratoga
Avivas Winner, $2.90, $2.80, $2.10, Vernon
Mcardles Lightning, $2.20, $2.10, n/s, Tioga

Seconds

Iwannashowusomethin, $47.40, $19.60, Meadows
Southern Allie, $5.20, $4.20, Meadows
Peter Pumpkineater, $4.80, $3.50, Batavia
R Dunshine, $2.80, $2.20, Maywood
Jammin Joshua, $2.60, $2.40, Hoosier

Thirds

Red Scooter, $5.40, Hoosier
Mr Rockford, $5.20, Saratoga
Avogadro Hanover, $4, Saratoga
Violet Eyes, $3.60, Meadows
Painting The Town, $2.20, Plainridge

News & Notes

In the Canadian Trotting Classic final at Mohawk, Trixton, Hambletonian winner and in this race the 9-5 choice against his stable mate Father Patrick, broke stride just after the race started and finished last. It turns out that Trixton, who has “a lot of physical issues,” according to his trainer, Jimmy Takter, may be done with racing. “I'm a little concerned that that could be the end of [his career], Takter told Perry Lefko of Harness Racing Update. “I’m not going to race him with those [troubled] hind ankles for too long … He’s had [ankle] surgery and I think he has arthritis in it,” Takter said. Trixton returned at three after breaking down at two and unexpectedly raced brilliantly.

At Yonkers’ Night of Champions (see above), the grounds crew worked as hard as any of the horsemen. Heavy rain through the first half of the program provoked a lot of track maintenance and delayed races. None of the events were cancelled, however, but the track remained “sloppy” but not dangerous due to constant care.

Jeff Gregory, who has won nearly 6,700 races as a driver will continue catch driving but plans to start training horses again. The New York native last trained regularly in the mid-1990s, prior to moving his base to New Jersey. Jeff qualified a two-year-old filly trotter, Miss Andover, last week at Philadelphia. The filly was trained previously by Noel Daley. “Noel was kind of looking to put her into a smaller stable, maybe where someone could pay attention to her every day and train her and drive her,” Gregory said. “She’s maybe a little nervous filly and might do better with having one guy looking over her. So they brought her to me. Gregory, who turned 48 recently, was sidelined from September, 2013 until late March this year because of a broken elbow. He has won 55 of 466 races this year and nearly $1 million in purses on the New York circuit.

Driver Bruce Ranger made a successful comeback in the sulky, winning one of the eight $25,000 Florida Sunshine Stakes held at the Sunshine Meadows Equestrian Village in Delray Beach, Florida on Sept. 13. Ranger has been out of commission since May 12 in Race 3 at his home base of Pompano Park. He was involved in a three-horse accident where he was catapulted from his bike and landed on his back, fracturing several vertebrae in his spine. Ranger, 55, has won more races at Pompano, 8,733, than anyone else. Without surgery, Ranger wore a brace that he took a week before he returned to action, after four months of healing and therapy.

Extraordinary Extras

Indulge in many standardbred topics at my Hoof Beats blog titled Vast Performances.

Ray Cotolo contributed to this blog

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