We started this week with some personal-features at Monticello on March 16 but the weather closed all of New York racing, no less lots of other establishments. The Nor’easter was a doozy.

Then it was Friday, March 17 and the opening of the Matchmaker Pacing Series at Yonkers. Our searches for great prices in all of the three divisions presented were as cold as the weather. We were third with Betabcool N ($3.40) as our second selection in the second division, won by the public’s second choice. Our other contender was Sail To The Beach (23-1), finishing seventh.

The other two Matchmakers went to the chalk while we finished fifth with Tessa Seelster (5-1), sixth with Al Raza N (20-1) in division one and fourth with Medusa (5-1) and sixth with Sell A Bit N (14-1) in the third division.

Saturday, the four “Levy” divisions also aimed for hefty prices and only two of the quartet resulted in show spots.

In division one the big favorite flew home late and we were third with 7-1 Guantanamo Bay ($3.10).

In division two an 18-1 shot was the only upset of the night. In this race we firmly disregarded the favorite, Mcwicked and we were dead-on about the weakness of that status as he finished near last. However, our choice, Melmerby Beach (43-1) could only pick up a check for fifth.

The public’s second choice beat us in round three as we got another fifth with Texas Terror N (77-1). Then, in the nightcap, 5-1 Somewhere In LA ($2.80) was the lone speed but he was a tad short to a 6-1 shot and the favorite, both closing inside and outside of him in the final strides.

Our H2W (horses to watch) list suffered from many bad posts this week, as well as not many entries and cancellations. Winners posted that the public found attractive also hurt it; leaving the best prices we could offer in second and third—some lucrative partners in exotics with other favorites. Hang in there, it’s the beginning of a long season and the Levys abound for the next four weeks (with the Matchmakers on their tails). 
 
All horses that did not win in our features—if not scratched—appear in the following week’s H2W list as second-time (noted: +) entries. Keep an eye on their second times around; more than a few come back to win.

On various Wednesday nights we tweet for TwinSpires Twitter members from @FrankCotolo –retweeted by @twinspires—and the raceway involved. Losers from each week will appear on the next week’s horses-to-watch (H2W) list unless they race before that blog is published, so watch for them returning to the races on days in between blogs. Watch for special tweets from raceways on various Wednesdays.

H2W LIST RESULTS

The H2W results list across-the-board prices. Also, exactas listed are included when a H2W horse finishes second with a race favorite or the first two finishers making up the exacta are H2W horses (an asterisk appears when both horses were listed to complete a cold exacta). The note “ok” determines that prices published are correct even when a show price exceeds a place price or any or all of the prices are the same. This week, there were 40 active horses (a 7-percent win hit rate and a 33-percent ATB [across-the-board] hit rate).

Please note that some H2W results reflect win, place, show and exotic results occurring by press time but some horses race after the blog is posted (we list them the following week) It is up to you to follow horses that have not performed before this weekly review is posted.

Winners

May Day Jojo, $4.30, $2.60, $2.20, Buffalo
Santanna Sam, $4.20, $2.60, $2.10, Freehold
Manifique, $3.60, $2.60, $2.10, Cal-Expo

Seconds

Fearless Leader, $8.80, $4.40, Meadowlands
Barossa Blue Genes, $7.40, $5.70, Century
DGs Justlikethat, $5.20, $3.60 (Exacta $22.80), Meadows
Promontory Jo, $4.00, $3.10, Fraser
Rocket Da Red, $4.00, $3.40, Dover
Somesizesomestyle, $3.40, $2.60 (Exacta $11.60), Meadowlands

Thirds

Max Profit, $6.80, Rosecroft
Barbra Carol Lynn, $3.60, Northfield
Blush Hanover, $2.80, Meadowlands
Metajka Road, $2.40, Century

News & Notes

Veteran horseman-driver John Campbell, harness racing’s leading money-winning driver of all time, was elected president and CEO of the Hambletonian Society. The vote by the board of directors was unanimous. Campbell will fulfill his driving commitments through June. Campbell replaces Tom Charters, effective July 1. John, who worked with Tom on projects over the years, thanked Charters for all his years of service. “I have tremendous respect for his opinion and passion for harness racing.”

Tom Charters informed the board last August of his intent to cut back on his schedule. He will step down from the position he has held since 1998. He will remain on staff through the Breeders Crown at Hoosier Park this October and on the board as a director. Charters was hired in 1984 to guide the newly created Breeders Crown championship series. “I am proud of what the society has accomplished over the last three decades, especially in sponsoring the two preeminent events in harness racing, the one-million-dollar Hambletonian and the six-million-dollar Breeders Crown,” said Charters.

Charters has been a friend and partner of our efforts to promote handicapping and wagering on harness racing through our associations with the sport for more than two decades, including our TwinSpires Hambletonian Trail and Breeders Crown Countdown and all of the live coverage. We thank him greatly for supporting the interests of the harness player.

John Campbell has been an available contact and supporter of our efforts from our years at TIMES: in harness, through our work at YouBet and into our successful run at TwinSpires. We look forward to continuing our wagering campaigns with the Hambletonian Society with John at the helm, including specific coverage of the society’s main events through our TwinSpires network of loyal harness players.

Opening Day for the 2017 harness racing meet at Scarborough Downs remains March 25, but qualifying races have been rescheduled to March 21 and March 22 due to late-winter weather conditions. Qualifiers set for March 18 were postponed due to two feet of drifting snow sweeping over the east coast, which also demanded a thorough job of track preparation for the safety of the horses and horsemen who will be competing. Racetracks up and down the coast struggled to deal with the storm. Monticello lost three programs while Pocono Downs was forced to postpone their opening day card from March 18  to March 21. On March 25 Scarborough features harness racing on a Saturday and Sunday with post time slated for 1:30 p.m. Eastern.

Hoosier Park readies for the 2017 season. Opening day of the 163-day meet is set for April 1. With a daily post time of 6:30 p.m., Hoosier will offer the most lucrative stakes program in the track’s history, highlighted by hosting the Breeders Crown events in October. Harness racing at Hoosier kicks off on a Saturday the opening week and returns on Thursday, Friday and Saturday the second week before resuming a Tuesday-through-Saturday schedule for the remainder of the season. In addition to the Breeders Crown events and activities, Hoosier will host an extended stakes schedule worth nearly $4 million. Hoosier’s signature pacing event, the $300,000 Dan Patch Stakes, is slated for Aug. 11. Returning to the stakes schedule is the $175,000 Nadia Lobell for three-year-old filly pacers as well as the $175,000 Moni Maker for three-year-old filly trotters.

Extraordinary Extras

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

For Thom Pye cartoons, informative harness history and more, click here ~