It’s that time of the year when we pick and choose races for features and offer promising prices from all pools, win, place, show and exotics. Here is how the first week of the last month of this year panned out: Thursday, Nov. 29 The Progress Pace was an afterthought for glamour-boy pacers, with an 8-5 winner and arguably the best horse in the field, our choice, Dorsoduro Hanover ($2.40), coming home third. He was a tired sophomore after a long, tough season in a competitive crop. Our exotic choices included a co-favorite, Jimmy Freight ($2.20, $2.10), and Thinkbig Dreambig, who finished fourth. On that same program, state-bred finals for freshman trotters and pacers offered little in the way of upsets. We scored only one winner, Disco Soliel ($2.80, $2.40, $2.20), who wound up the race favorite in the filly trot. Our exotic choice in that race, Dark Dutchess (14-1) broke and was eliminated. In the colt trot a favorite beat our fifth-finishing choice, Say Gesundheit (69-1). We were third in the filly pace with The Lady Sheriff ($3.00), beaten by the longest shot in the quartet of finals. Another favorite won the colt pace, while our choice, Son Of A Lynx (18-1) went galloping to finish sixth. Our first Power Plays feature was another feature that afternoon, presenting contenders for a Pick 3 at Saratoga. In leg one we lost to the favorite with our ticket inclusions, The Royal Pose (14-1), finishing fourth, and I Am Summer (11-1), coming home sixth off stride. Leg two was won by the public’s second choice, beating our valuable place finisher, Pain In The Mass ($8.70, $6.10). The third leg went to a 4-1 shot over our Wanna Make Money (6-1), who finished fourth. Friday, Nov. 30 The Friday Power Plays feature at Dayton offered four ticket additions for three single-race exotics offered and delivered the top horse on each ticket—Townline Flyinlady ($10.20, $5.20, $4.60). The race favorite (not in our quartet) finished second for an exacta worth $33.00. Our other choices missed participating in combos with Townline Flyinlady as the winner. In order of their finishing positions, Fast Date (6-1) was fifth; Barefoot Julie (5-1) was sixth and Olivia V (10-1) was seventh. As the winner, Townline Flyinlady launched a trifecta worth $44.20 and a superfecta worth $174.34. Saturday, Dec. 1 We offered a single feature as the month began, a typical overnight at Northfield. It was won by a 10-1 shot with an easier trip than our 13-1 shot, Shakeitformegear, who made up significant ground on the outside but could not shake free (no pun intended) to finish any better than fifth. TwinSpires Harness Blog: Severe Handicapping For Harness Bettors 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 36 active horses (an 11-percent win hit rate and a 42-percent ATB [in the money] 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 Winners Conway Beach A, $10.20, $4.50, $4.60 ok, Monticello Funknpancakes, $3.80, $2.40, $2.10, Pompano Espirit De Kayjay A, $2.60, $2.10, $2.10, Freehold David The Saint, $2.20, $2.10, $2.10, Freehold Seconds Keystone Krystal, $4.20, $2.20, Freehold Landonfitz, $4.20, $3.40, Meadowlands Three Rivers Dell, $4.00, $3.40 (Exacta $8.40), Meadows Gina Grace N, $3.70, $3.40 (Exacta, $5.20), Saratoga Holdingallthecards, $3.60, $3.00 (Exacta $16.00), Dayton Thirds Wichita Lineman, $6.20, Dover Nitro Seelster, $3.00, Meadows Ella Christina, $2.40, Dover A Bay Bay, $2.20, Cal Expo Sams Escape, $2.20, Freehold Friends To The End, $n/s, Western Fair News & Notes In last week’s News & Notes, after noting the death of horseman Bill Gale, we told a humorous story about Marv Bachrad and I arguing over one of Gale’s accomplishments for which Marv credited John Campbell. We are sad to report that Bachrad passed away on Dec. 1 at the age of 83. A perennial figure in harness racing, Bachrad was the mentor of most modern-day harness racing journalists. He called races, reported on races on radio and in print and knew everyone in the business over decades of activity. For a number of years I headed an editorial board where Bachrad was my Senor Editor—it was his last job as a journalist before ending his professional career at Dover Downs. Enshrined in the Harness Racing Museum, Marv Bachrad leaves us as a popular figure in harness racing history. Another familiar racehorse is leaving competition to breed. All Bets Off, the richest son of Bettors Delight, earned $3,186,658. He is a multiple stakes winner at two, three and older, including the Matron, Art Rooney, Carl Milstein Memorial and Messenger, along with sires stakes in his sire’s home of New York, the Confederation Cup final and Prix D’Ete. He will stand at Seelster Farms in Canada. Aaron Merriman became the first driver in the history of harness racing to achieve multiple 1,000-win seasons, nonetheless back to back. Last year Merriman became only the fourth driver in harness racing history to score 1,000 wins in a single year, with 1,095 victories. It took him only a year to become the first ever to repeat the feat. Merriman, now 40, keeps a torrid schedule, driving in over 4,000 races during each of the last five seasons. We have not run a flat-bet profit workout for Merriman from either year, yet. When we do, we will post the results here. It’s almost time for our yearling review. Each December the TwinSpires harness-racing department studies the 12-month archives of suggested contenders posted in the exclusive weekly harness blog. From that review, we categorize all of the winners that have paid at least two digits (4-1 and up) in the order of win prices, high to low. It’s a master list that includes winners from the H2W list and features from all three blogs (The Hambletonian Trail and Breeders Crown Countdown, too) through the 52 weeks of blogs. More for the bettors, who are the exclusive audience of these harness racing blogs, is our award for the TwinSpires Harness Players’ Horse of the Year. There is no voting on this particular winner. Each year the horse earning the title comes from either our features lists or the horses-to-watch list (H2W) and is named the title by being the highest paying winner from all our posts of the year. This year’s annual roundup will be in the Dec. 28 blog. That means the frontrunner for top honors is still in jeopardy, considering horses may still top his win mutuel. Extraordinary Extras Indulge in my monthly column, Alternative Actions, at Harness Racing Update (Coady Photo)