This weekend’s big feature may bring back some storied memories as we predict another upset in the Meadowlands Pace on July 15. It’s a big night of stakes and stars, pacers and trotters, colts, fillies, mares and horses. 

Again this weekend we offer our Freshmen Frolic section, where we aim to sensationalize on the early two-year-old non-stakes races around the continent.

This week’s Hambletonian Trail, our TwinSpires-exclusive blog analyzes the major soph colt and filly trots on the Meadowlands Pace program, July 15—the Del Miller and Stanley Dancer memorials. It’s getting close to our annual visit to the New Jersey oval for Hambletonian day, where again we will be live from the press room and in the crowd for live coverage of the August classics and the co-starring stakes.

The weekly H2W (the horses-to-watch) list is posted as usual, to, so do your own handicapping and then consider our H2W selections when playing your bets. Of course, remember to be fully armed with a plentiful TwinSpires betting account.

THE MEADOWLANDS PACE

Any significant soph-colt pace this season lacking the presence of Fear The Dragon is going to ignite some controversy, as this year’s $738,550 Meadowlands Pace has done. Regardless of reasons for his absence and whether you agree with the reasons or not, we are faced with the classic Joe DeFrank-created race that presents the other top glamour-boy pacers and its history of upsets and champion conquests.

Inheriting the star’s spot is Huntsville, who took full advantage of that status in the single elim heat and won convincingly. In the final field, however, are the colts that received byes and did not have to be tested to get into the final. Huntsville has them to deal with in the final mile. Here with a week’s rest are Downbytheseaside, Miso Fast and Classic Pro and they will be showing their best to make Huntsville earn a victory.

With a challenge, Huntsville will not have such an easy go of this mile and make no mistake about it, there will be a challenge, maybe more. Blood Line could set the pace out of the gate and Downbytheseaside will have early lick. Huntsville will attempt to take over, as he did last week but not with the ease that won him the elim. We can hope for shuffling, as the drivers rely on speed that, let’s face it, won’t last. That’s when Miso Fast will get the benefit of all trips.

There is an old thoroughbred knack for choosing a strong contender. If horse A beats horse B and horse B has beaten horse C, then horse A can beat horse C. Consider Miso Fast as horse A, the sole defeater of Fear The Dragon this season, doing so in a race that may very well look similar to how this classic event will develop. The sweeping brush that took Fear The Dragon in a “Hempt” elim is the move we will back, to beat horse C (Huntsville).

Downbytheseaside may not even hold on for second. The place could go to free-legged Classic Pro, the third of the byes. The win mutuel will be strong and that exacta will be very generous. This is an upset year for the Pace and just as Huntsville bowed to second in the division to our early choice and now top dog Fear The Dragon, we can look for an upset based on the great “Dragon” that didn’t make it into this race.

VERSITILE FEMMES

Two $30,000 divisions of the Miss Versatility are on the Meadowlands program July 15. Six trotting mares in all, five are out to give Hannelore Hanover a nudge in her strong five-year-old season. On top of the challenger list is Caprice Hill, the Kadabra four-year-old that has taken a near month off since losing the Armbro Fling Final badly to “Hannelore” She went a very good qualifier after the rest and needs to be taken seriously here. Class-wise, that duo rides far above the others, but to consider “Caprice” a value may be a mistake. If you tend not to pass this, take your shot with Oho Diamond, who raced well against Hannelore and with the right conditions (a marvelous trip or mistake from Hannelore) could turn this around.

In the second split there are seven mares. Broadway Donna has been competent racing against the big-boy trotters, so her return against her own division looks very promising. She has every right to be the favorite—but will that happen? Jimmy Takter has a five-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill from overseas that could get some play and Emoticon Hanover usually pulls in some players. Hopefully, the odds will spread around enough to allow “Donna” to be a fair, though still low, price. Judge for yourselves.

MISTLETOE SHALEE

Also on the Pace card, soph-filly pacers aim for victory in the stake named after the great lady pacer. Just after we caught on to Agent Q, her prices dropped and she began a soft rule of the division. She is here among the seven and her domination appears locked in for a while. As usual, no one needs us to tell them Agent Q will rule the win pool with a low win price. If you are looking beyond her, take a good look at Brazuca. She was great in her “Lynch” elim and very competitive against Agent Q in the final. With Idyllic Beach picking up some support even from her Lynch failure (she has a good excuse what with her early duel), Brazuca could get a good grip on a great trip and upset.


HAMBLETONIAN MATURITY

A fun creation, the $458,750 Hambletonian Maturity (which should be raced on Hambo day, right?) offers nine four-year-old Hambletonian contenders from 2016’s fields, another shot at one another, also on the July 15 Meadowlands docket. The bad part of this for bettors is the presence of 2016’s Hambletonian and trotting triple crown-winner, Marion Marauder. Quickly getting into shape at four, Marion Marauder still hasn’t peaked this season and looks to take another “Hambletonian”-named race here.

Last week’s Graduates Final win was a spectacular display of how fit “Marion” is at four. No urging to the finish line coming out of a battling pack, Marion appeared ready to go another few turns. There is a bit more distance for that spark in this event, as it offers another eight of a mile. All we can offer is a possible improving mile from Celebrity Eventsy from post 1. This well-bred Manofmanymissions gal is so often in the mix and may be a sweet price against the great Marion.


HAUGHTON HANGOUT

The $427,400 William Haughton Memorial, another 1 1/8-miles event, already seems like a free-for-all reunion of older male pacers, since this division has been active since the new season began. A dozen top four-year-olds and up, all well acquainted, take to the New Jersey two-turns on July 15. Choose your weapon, as no one pacer in this group has been able to dominate yet. It is a deep field of contenders and that makes it a good betting race, offering good prices on good horses.

Mel Mara may take the public-choice status and we can only help that makes for a wider imbalance among some others who will have better choices than their odds indicate. Ron Burke’s All Bets Off is a perfect example of a sound overlay. We would hope he would be somewhere in the neighborhood of his recent pair of starts where he was under-played and that he may be as aggressive as he was winning the Battle of Lake Erie in June.

GOLDEN GIRLS

The mare pacers, is not a hip-hop division with no strict leader. This battle on the Pace program called the $201,000 Golden Girls free-for-all features a mare pacer seemingly made of gold, Lady Shadow. Even from post 10 she is a threat to any mare that moves in a race with her. She has five wins for five starts this season over both borders. She has beaten all but two in this field and that duo is so out of her class that it is difficult to see anything but chaos putting them anywhere near her.

In all combinations of exotics including Lady Shadow, Frost Damage Blues could be a partner that helps boost a price or two. And Call Me Queen Be may not have fired lately (a sick scratch and a poor return from it could be an excuse and if she weren’t well she would not be here) but is in a great spot to join the forces for some good exotics. Certainly upsets by either of these, if only by noses, are possible, but it may be more profitable to use them with Lady Shadow for strong exotic prices.

YONKERS’ YOUNGSTERS

The $110,000 Lawrence B. Sheppard Final at Yonkers on July 15 tests fresh-frosh pacing colts for the biggest prize of their young careers. On the outside (post 7) rides three-for-three winner Kwik Talkin, whose sire, Well Said, is arguably one of the recent best. So, even from a Yonkers outside post, this guy will get the best action in the pools. One of our elim winners from last week, Persist Blue Chip, drew even worse, leaving from post 8.

Another elim winner, Trump Nation, gets post 2 and cannot be ignored as a contender, though so many here are suspect when it comes to tossing out possible winners.

Springsteen, from the rail, won’t be ignored by bettors but will still fall into a co-starring role in the pools. His sire, the great Rock N Roll Heaven, is just getting started on what could be a huge sire career. Chris Ryder’s colt has a huge shot here.

Also in the top four is Hora Star, a Dragon Again colt from Kevin Lare that would not raise eyebrows were he to be best here. Those two would provide a very good exacta and contribute dollars to all exotic payouts.

FRESHMAN FROLICS

Two-year-old races at the beginning of each season are the most difficult events for handicappers to forecast winners, no less value. Every season’s start for us means extra work on sire productivity, so we can make wise wagers in freshman races. If you handicap the races below, be sure to respect those listed as contenders.

July 13
Hoosier, Rock The Baby R14
Saratoga, Jersey Jim R2; Dazzlin Hall R3
Scioto, Americanleage R2; Priest Man R5

July 14
Hawthorne, Allbeastnobeauty R1
Philadelphia, All On Black R5
Meadowlands Funknpancakes R4; Blush R8


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
7/15/17, Screentest Hanover R2; Lucky Style R11

Hawthorne
7/14/17, +JBs Enigma R7; Tookadiveoffdipper R8

Hoosier
7/13/17, +Just Booken R5; +Lyons Levi Lewis R7
7/14/17, +Freaky Feet Pete R9

Meadowlands
7/14/17, Walk Two Moons R7; Michaels Wild Boy R10
7/15/17, Ocean Colony R7; Mr Varsity R13

Meadows
7/15/17, +Roll With Howie R7; Honeemoon Suite R7

Monticello
7/13/17, +Topgun Raider R1; Hillbillycashflow R4; Star Of Oz R8

Ocean
7/13/17, Jasmine K R11

Saratoga
7/13/17, +Chasin The Storm R1

Scarborough
7/13/17, Luigi R5
7/16/17, Astreos Delight R6

Tioga
7/14/17, Heaven On Earth R9

Vernon
7/15/17, +Outoftexas R7

Yonkers
7/15/17, +Sports Bettor R7
7/16/17, Red Hot Herbie R2; Triumphants Trip R5; The Royal Harry R6