It began promising, with two good wins. At the New Meadowlands on Friday night, we bagged the winner of the Golden Girls, Rebecca Bayama, at $12.40.
That same night, our choice in a Pennsylvania Sires Stakes (PASS) for frosh-filly trotters at the Meadows stormed home to surprise most bettors—Ruffleshaveridges won, paying $20.60.
We won, of course, with Maven in the Moni Maker but the win price was worth a pass and the proposed exacta did not take place (not that it would have cracked a double-digit price). In the quartet of New Jersey Sires Stakes, the closest we came was second with Jerseylicious; the other choices were unproductive, beaten by three of four favorites. And our William Haughton Final choice, Meirs Hanover, was scratched, unable to assist or help deconstruct our bankroll.
Our other PASS choices were in the mix. Sina (19-1) was second; Classic Martine (17-1) was third and Money And Me (5-2) was third.
Our best finishers at Tioga in the New York Sires Stakes for frosh-colt pacers were Artist Night (2-1) and Track Master D (3-1), both finishing second.
Saturday, Aug. 18, Only Captaintreacherous, the big and popular frosh-pacing son of Somebeachsomewhere, won. His Nassagaweaya victory at Mohawk was worth a pass at 25 cents to the dollar. We wound up with the favorite in one of two Eternal Camnation splits and she, Parlee Beach, finished second.
The worst results were those from the Charlottetown Driving Park, where we recorded three seconds among six choices, with horrible results from four. Our Gold Cup & Saucer choice, Mystician, was second, as was Hey Jean in the Alpine Claiming final and Aled Hanover in the Pacemaker.
We cannot exactly say we were rockin’ and rollin’ at Harrah’s Philadelphia on Aug. 19, because apart from A Rocknroll Dance, who won the Battle of Brandywine and paid $4, we were wrong about Little Brown Fox and Economy Terror in the two other featured events.
The pacing-bred Googoo Gaagaa, who was not eligible for the Hambletonian and will have to shell up supplement dough if he wants to face his division in the Breeders Crown, beat the tough group of glamour-boy trotters in the Colonial Trot.
Hambo-winner Market Share took second and Little Brown Fox was third. The latter, our choice, went off the favorite at even money, while “Goo” and “Market” each offered $2.20 to the dollar. When Goo won, it was the most he had paid the entire season. “Fox” attempted a wire-to-wire win but was nailed after a 1:24.2 three-quarters, which was the product of his speeding up through the first two fractions.
Market got a pocket trip, so he was able to get out and give Fox the brush. But Goo had the toughest time, going first over from the half on. There was little reason why Market’s soft trip couldn’t have taken the victory from Goo and we will never know why Fox quit on the lead but this race belonged to the odd colt that, when on his game, makes this group look weak.
In the Valley Forge, Economy Terror got a hideous trip, leaving quickly but remaining wide, and failing to hold on after fiery fractions that resulted in the winner’s quick off-the-pace time of 1:50.1. That winner was Romantic Moment, a filly we have supported when paying better this season.
It’s all over for ironclad pacer Won The West. The third richest pacer in North American harness racing history was retired in a ceremony on Aug. 17 at the New Meadowlands. The eight-year-old gelding won 36 of 109 races and $3.93 million.
“He is the most beautiful Standardbred I ever saw,” his final trainer, Ron Burke said. “He absolutely is the picture of the breed … I think he will be remembered for how good he was for such a long time but I think for the people that have seen him, what is left in their memory is what a beautiful animal he is.”
We don’t usually review driver milestones but Rick Plano goes far back with us. We met him during the dream days of southern California harness racing. He drove the first winner at the ill-fated Fairplex Park harness meet in the 1980s and became a mainstay in the struggling western community.
Plano, 60, regrouped a few years back, came east and became one of Vernon Downs’ top drivers. He began his harness career at Vernon in 1973 and is a native New Yorker. Last week he recorded his 6,000th driving victory during the current meet at Vernon Downs and we congratulate him for the achievement, no easy task in a career that included the always on-the-brink-of-destruction state of harness racing in California.
Live harness racing returned to Fraser Downs on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 18 for its 2012 meet. Live racing will continue every Saturday and Sunday at 12:45 p.m. until after the Labor Day weekend. Racing then shifts to a Friday and Saturday schedule with first race post time at 7 p.m.
The clock is ticking to start the countdown for the Breeders Crown. Click here for the exclusive Breeders Crown Countdown blog.
We invite you to enjoy our musings on other standardbred topics at my Hoof Beats blog titled Vast Performances. Every weekend as part of that blog we we offer Balmoral Pick-4-and-win picks at the USTA’s Strategic Wagering Program page which includes suggested win bets. On Aug. 18 we hit with Life Is Good Today at $25.
Connect to Twitter and follow Frank and Ray Cotolo for up-to-the-minute suggestions on wagers at many harness raceways. Then, wager from your TwinSpires accounts.
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Cartoon by Thom Pye