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Harness Action East To West With Promising Profit Plays

By Frank Cotolo

Our weekend will make only one stop in New Jersey for harness this week—where we have been starting of late, at Freehold on Thursday. As a spin off, we will offer contenders for the Pick 3.

We are changing our Friday focus to diversify and shake a losing streak at the Meadowlands, where the legs of our Pick-s selections for Fridays have been dismal, at best. It’s off to Yonkers for some spot plays.

But Saturday we will be back at Miami Valley to pick apart the Late Pick 4. Supplementing the features action is, for course, the TwinSpires exclusive H2W (horses-to-watch list). Our contenders continue to score generously with across the board, single- and multi-race exotics. Take these horses seriously in all pools.   

F E A T U R E S ~ F E A T U R E S ~ F E A T U R E S

Freehold/Race 4
Thursday, Feb. 18

New York Terror went a smooth mileat 5-2 in his first drop from racing against better and has a great shot at this, hopefully staying around the neighborhood of his morning-line odds. One Bad Shot gets the 8 hole, never a good place to be expecting strong public support at this half-mile track. Thus, he may offer better odds than his chances and certainly will be responsible for pumping up exotics if he is in the mix, no less if he wins.

Freehold/Race 6
Thursday, Feb. 18

The beginning of the $1 Pick 3 offers a jumbled group of lower-ranked conditioners but could be a whopping start of the exotic along with the other pools. The key to that blast is M T The Banc, who comes off a go-nowhere effort after dropping into this class. If we forgive the well-bred gelding and, instead, applaud the effort before that, at a higher notch, we could be convinced that he is a contender. Hanging outside second for two calls and still getting onto the purse grid, M T The Banc could take advantage of the obvious favorite, Million Miles, who from post 8 may have to push the pace to get where he likes to be—on top. He could also get hanged trying and finish off the board.

If you are thinking exotics within the race, don’t leave out Between Me And You, who fits well in this class and comes off of a gallant try at 4 ½-1. From the inside he could get a cool cover trip and have some left for the combines.

Freehold Pick-3 suggested contenders in Race 7 include the obvious favorite, a weighty dropping Wygant Princess and Catalyst. The former comes from the Meadowlands and could coast on class from post 1, while the latter drops slightly after a third, a great outside attempt and a toss-out jumping non-race.

Freehold Pick-3 suggested contenders in Race 8 include probable outsider Seconds Later, whose recent pair at this oval include brave brushes that could cause an upset over public choices.

F E A T U R E S ~ F E A T U R E S ~ F E A T U R E S

Yonkers/Race 4 
Friday, Feb. 19

A Pick 3 starts with Race 4 and it could start with a very big price—at least you should take into consideration a pacer that could surprise the lot. From the dreaded Yonkers 8 post, with a 20-1 morning line, Warrawee Qually makes her first 2016 start. She just qualified from post 8 and was short but impressive. However, it is her class from November at Yonkers and Pocono that puts her in the thick of this conditioned group, one that the public will handicap mostly by drivers. Should this mare be better than her qualifier and out-class the group she will knock down a good price in all the pools.

Yonkers/Race 12
Friday, Feb. 19

The second half of the late Daily Double is another conditioned affair that may turn the crowd to drivers before horses’ forms. Two beaten favorites show up in this field and both are morning-line outsiders with the ability to up the return of the “Double.” From the coveted 5 post, Sir Jillian Z Tam stays in this class after almost winning here with a perfect trip off of her second back, a win off of a perfect trip in this class. She was cashing checks at the Meadowlands before traveling across the river and added two turns to her battles.

Two to her right, Cracker Coffee lost as the choice stepping into the class, trying to wire the field as she did in the race win that brought her there. The 7 post will turn off bettors, especially the Sears-Brennan fans that cherish anything those guys drive and with our two on the outside, though handled with drivers every bit as competent as the aforementioned “heroes” of Westchester, we should feel confident with our wagers in the multi- and single-race pools.

F E A T U R E S ~ F E A T U R E S ~ F E A T U R E S

Miami Valley / Pick 4 / Races 9-12
Saturday, Feb. 20

We approach the final weeks of February with another Saturday night extravaganza at Miami Valley. This week’s edition of the Late Pick 4 appears to compile fields of a more competitive nature than we’ve witnessed in week’s past.

Initiating the sequence is Race 9, a conditioned pacing event that is one of many races here that could rely on speed to catalyze the closing performances of our potential value plays. Of the three contenders in the first leg, Lucky Shot and He’s Got It are the two that would benefit from a sharp pace. Lucky Shot was aggressive against this group last out, brushing to the top before the half to then falter to last by the end of the mile. He’s Got It, racing against the company below this two starts ago swept by his rivals after they set sizzling fractions. That effort propelled him to the Open, where he came up flat given a similar pace setup. However, this duo should be positioned in a stalking spot in the event a speed battle commences.

In the event said speed battle is absent, probable favorite Turbo Mach will likely stroll around the track. Dropping from the Open, where he started from the second tier, he has raced on the lead in three of his last four outings, going wire-to-wire in those events. He has the class and the ability to beat this field but he could prove vulnerable if put under pressure.

Leg two of the Pick 4, race 10, could be the deciding race of this sequence, since Santa Fe Beachboy may be sent off a decisive and perhaps poor favorite. Entering off of two qualifiers, his recent miles were in stakes races, which will likely drive the betting public towards this pacer. Yet, he may need a start before he’s ready to crush competition.

Considering the tote board, Talk Strategy and E R Rudy should be great prices with the presence of Santa Fe Beachboy. Getting claimed two starts ago, Talk Strategy comes into this race off of a strong performance for his new barn, going wire-to-wire against competition two levels below his rivals here. He has also demonstrated his versatility regarding racing style, so where he gets positioned off of the gate should not be a grand problem.

E R Rudy drops into the Open II from the Open level but his best performances came against lower competition. Three starts ago he was positioned second over and managed to edge by horses into a fast final quarter to claim victory. Ultimately, he draws poorly but could race much like Talk Strategy; either close to the lead or from off the pace.

Speed is the key to the third leg, Race 11. Probable favorites Blueridge Doc and Roll’em Up possess great amounts of speed but could also pressure each other until their stamina is drained. With that, Moonwards Hanover is the first of a trio that could pick up the pieces at a price. Flying from last to finish fourth against this level last out, he gets an improved draw this week, which should allow him to get off the gate closer to the top, in turn making him have to recoup less ground

Creighton Hanover and Hey Dali should also be involved in the event of a pace collapse. Finishing second against this group last out, Creighton Hanover is poised to get a covered trip with his outside post. The goal will likely be for him to replicate his mile from last week. Meanwhile, Hey Dali will be a threat from the pocket. Trailing speedster Blueridge Doc (see H2W), he should inherit the pocket, making his only obstacle to avoid being shuffled or boxed in. But, if a battle ensues up until the stretch with Hey Dali still occupying the pocket, expect him to shoot up the passing lane.

In an attempt to make this ticket more economical and profitable, we’ll attempt to beat probable favorite Wilcox, who won at this level last week off a pocket trip, in race 12. One horse that can beat him is King Otra (see H2W), shipping in from a second-place effort at Northfield against tougher horses. He was last at Miami Valley on Jan. 30 against the claiming level right above this. There, he was caught first over and remained a nose off the leader from the half up until the middle of the stretch. His best effort will likely come from a trip that does not involve being the first-over bait, which is obtainable from post 4.

Possibly blowing everybody out of the sequence, Johnny Come Lately may have a better chance here than the public will grant him. Scratching sick against tougher competition two starts ago, he made his comeback start at this level, finishing ninth after a stroll from the pylons. However, he was claimed from that start, which was also his second of this season. Looking back to his strong on-the-lead performance against this level in his seasonal debut, he could be a big threat at a big price from his new stable.

H2W Legend

Review our choices and follow the wagering at the prescribed track. These are possible contenders we have judged from reviewing races. The horses’ names are listed beneath the name of the track after the date they will be racing. The race in which they are entered (R and race number) follows. If a + is in front of a horse’s name it means it is appearing on the list for the second (and last) time because it failed to win the first time it appeared. An “ae” signals the horse is entered on the also-eligible list. If a horse is listed twice, refer to the entries on the night of the race since a horse may enter in more than one race. Types of wagering on any of the H2W listed horses are based on your judgment. If you have any questions, email us at TwinSpires.

H2W LIST

Buffalo
2/19/16, +Stirling Cadillac ae R2; Sailin Metro R6   
2/20/16, Dodger Hanover R1; That Horse JD R12

Cal Expo
2/20/16, Play Guide R6
2/21/16, +Capitol Hill R8

Flamboro
2/18/16, +Honi Maker R11
2/20/16, +Missy Future Luck R2; +Pictonian Sareta R4; +Hellsapoppin R9

Fraser
2/19/16, Starface R8
2/21/16, +Boom Shazam R5; Dream N Of Mona R6

Freehold
2/19/16, Sophisticatedkelly R1; Sookie R2; +That Girl Of Mine R4; +Sleazy Does It R4
2/20/16, +Northern Ideal R1; +Rusty Skipp ae R12

Meadowlands
2/19/16, +Twin B Elite R3; +Mojarra Hanover R3; Montalbano BI R5; +Apricot Sour R7; +Cndiana Jones R7; +Blue Muse R8; +Paris Princess N R8;+Mc Tinys Hope R10
2/20/16, Speed Trap R6

Meadows
2/20/16, Drinksonthehouse R12; Kona Kid R13

Miami
2/20/16, +Radar Warning R6; +My Temudjin N R6; +The Ladies Man R8; +Poison Oak R10; +Machin Music R10; +Schoolkids R10; +Blueridge Doc R11; +King Otra R12; +Mr Dennie R12; +Ra Ra Steven R13

Monticello
2/18/16, Woody R5
2/22/16, +Ability To Attack R2

Northfield
2/20/16, Silverhill Princes R5; +My Marisa Clair R9; +Ella Rose R10; Stonebridge Damsel R13

Pompano
2/20/16, PCs Wildcard R1; Sensationalgabby A R3; Freeneasy Hanover R9

Western Fair
2/19/16, Watt A Funny Face R6; King Trut R9; Lady Richmond R10

Woodbine
2/19/16, Wildcat Magic R4, Dianna Santanna R4; +St Lads Penny Lane R4; +Rocky De Vie R6; Hetties Commander R8
2/20/16, +Show Some Leg R5; +Lets Wait And See R10

Yonkers
2/19/16, +Canaco Star R9
2/20/16, Hugh Hefner N R8
2/22/16, +Mojo Terror R11

Ray Cotolo contributes to each edition