A big stakes night at the Meadowlands revolves around Meadowlands Pace. July 14’s program is covered thoroughly below, along with some extra facts on the iconic stakes event. The “Pace” program includes the classic Mistletoe Shalee affair, more huge pots for aged pacers of both sexes and the Hambletonian Maturity.

Our Hambletonian Trail blog will cover the very important stakes at the Meadowlands for eligible colts and fillies—the Stanley Dancer and the Del Miller.

It’s another big week for freshman events, many covered by TwinSpires exclusive harness feature, Freshman Frolics. Other youngster events are featured from the Midwest to the East.

Other opportunities for bettors in win, place, show and exotic pools are on target with the horses-to-watch (H2W) list, which starts on Thursday and goes through the following Monday. Explore these possibilities for use in any wagers of your choice. Do your own handicapping and then consider our H2W selections.

 HOOSIER GREENS

Indiana Sires Stakes (INSS) events have reached the finals stage for freshmen and this $75,000 event on July 12 offers green colt pacers a bunch to continue their 2018 campaigns. Two unbeaten-in-three starts colts should take all the money, leaving a chance to cash in on less obvious youngsters whose numbers are slightly less.

Though in his second start, Melanie’s Tedy would appear in the H2W, we are going to go for him here. We liked him in last week’s “Frolic” section, where he was a solid second in his first appearance for money and we like him right back against a tight group of inexperienced blokes.

JERSEY FROSH FINALS

Sire-wise, it is difficult to have opinions which prodigy has an edge in the frosh finals of the New Jersey Sires Stakes at the Meadowlands on Friday, July 13. Knowing all we can about the sires and dams of the contestants in the two $125,000 trot fields, here are our choices.

The 10-horse NJSS filly trot offers four by Trixton, five by Father Patrick and one by Calchips Brute. Going deeper than the sire (percentage stats need more time to ripen) our eyes turn to French Café, a Father Patrick product out of the champion-mare Creamy Mimi. Perhaps the fact that as a racehorse, the best dam in the field will be overlooked as any reason to single out Julie Miller’s filly? We hope not; it may be a slight edge from a breeding angle.

The colt trot poses the same problem, with six Trixon colts versus four Father Patrick colts. Again, we look to the dam and although Hudson River leaves from post 8 (it bothers some people) we always liked his dam, Lantern Kronos, and would look for him to make his second start a second win.

KEEPING THE ‘PACE’

The Meadowlands Pace: Joe DeFrank, the first Meadowlands Director of Racing, created it. Joe knew the sport needed an exceptional event for glamour-boy pacers and in 1977 the sport was rife for such a race and the Meadowlands, only a year old, was the perfect location. Joe’s forecast was to eventually make the event worth a million-dollars. It began with a purse of $425,000—the richest United States pacing race in the sport. It did reach a $1-million purse within a decade of its creation and stayed at that level 30 times in its history. Just before the original state-owned facility shut down, the purse had been dropping, as was the status of the event.

The new Meadowlands (Jeff Gural’s salvaged version) has managed to save the event and level the purse to within $300Gs of Joe’s million. This year the event is worth $701,803.

MEADOWLANDS PACE FINAL

We nailed both elims based on the presence of two colts and the absence of one. With Lather Up on the mend and out of the cast for the “Pace,” the recent performances of Courtly Choice and a respect for Stay Hungry despite his poor-season start were undeniably strong enough to spotlight them in their elims. At 2-1 on each, they were bargains.

In the final, the pair will split popularity in the pools, even with Courtly Choice the morning-line (ML) favorite by a tick. However, there is talent in the 10 at the gate, enough so that people will be shopping for upsets.

Though this appears to be Courtly Choice’s race as he emerges to become Lather Up’s strongest threat in the division, there are still fans of American History. Tony Alagra’s “buzz” horse has been improving and it would be no surprise if he had his great mile among this cast.

The original top candidate for this event, Dorsoduro Hanover, could be a huge bargain from post 10. He is no slouch and the right set-up of speed dueling may benefit his trip and find him at a big price in the winner’s circle. Among the double-digit ML colts, Dorsoduro Hanover is the best.

As far as not winning, Nutcracker Sweet seems impotent for finishing first; Jimmy Freight was frighteningly short at 3-5 last week when dismissed by Courtly Choice; This Is The Plan appears to have no specific plan to be dominant in this division; Hayden Hanover may be a bridesmaid in the big stakes throughout the season if he must tolerate the likes of the best; Thinkbig Dreambig is aptly named against this competition; and Babes Dig Me may be content picking up purse pieces and passing tired ones to earn money. 

That’s the field. If you feel the prices on the top two are fair, make your decision but don’t expect a big reward. If you are courageous, go with Dorsoduro promising a price that a mere two weeks ago was forecast as impossible.

VERSATILE MARES

The Saturday, July 14 program at the Meadowlands begins with two divisions of the Miss Versatility (MVS) Series at $30,000 a split. Some celebrity mare trotters are among the six in round one but one of the lesser known among them is our choice. Barn Bella left Woodbine in June after racing with some classy mares to do some easy racing. She is of this ilk and looks to be in shape for a profitable MVS, should she take to the road with it. Since she is bound to be no better than the fourth choice, the price will be right.

Although seven take part in MVS round two, one of them is Hannelore Hanover; end of story. If, though, you would like to go with an exotic partner (but a longshot for an upset), Ice Attraction will hurl driver/trainer Ake Svanstedt to the top or near it early and she just may be able to suck along all the way, as the race should be for second.

MISTLETOE SHALLEE

For $191,800, a dozen of the top filly pacers battle at 1 1/8 miles in the classic stakes named after the heroine pacer on the Pace program. Kissin In The Sand will be among a few of the betting choices after her grueling “Lynch” win against Youaremycandygirl, also in this field.

Alexa’s Power and Wisdom Tree will also attract bettors, though it is veritably impossible to separate this quartet.

Though she has not won in six starts this season, Ron Burke’s Sansovina Hanover has out-performed her wagers. Against the top two she has been close, finishing for cash. She raced well in the Lynch, finishing fourth, and a scenario where she has a bit more left in the extra distance than the four main combatants is not outrageous. For the price, then, Sansovina Hanover.

HAMBLETONIAN MATURITY

Nine former Hambletonian participants (four-year-olds) scramble for a purse of $405,850 in another 1 1/8-miles event on July 14. After a sizzling world-record mile, Ariana G returns. Does, however, the kind of strength she showed last week? We didn’t suspect such a mile, even knowing she is that good and a world record was not a surprise. A former adversary, Guardian Angel AS, has been terrific at four and is unbeaten in three, one of them a win over Ariana G. She may be a clear second choice for the public.

Our outside contender is Sortie. He does tend to jump but that is a hazard all horses face. So, using his race last week, which was Ariana G’s record mile, we are impressed at him finishing third. A three-wide move, smooth-gaited, and a firm hold of third (behind Moonshiner Hanover, who is not here) was a performance far better than his 53-1 odds. His Tioga Graduate leg was going as well before he jumped, so sans the galloping, Sortie is available for an upset if the two top entries here duel or themselves begin to gallop (as well as any other unknown factor may play on them negatively). It’s a good shot at a great upset, which is by no means just a hard swing at the fence.

GIRLS OF GOLD

Next on the July 14 program is the $189,750 Golden Girls for mare pacers. It’s another crowed field of 12 and another 1 1/8-miles journey. It’s hard to go beyond Shartin N. She is already 11 for 14 in the win column this season and she comes into this event after a brief rest followed by a dynamic qualifying win. She has beaten all of these except those that race at this class anew. Shartin N can beat herself but you would have to pray for a break in stride. 

Certainly the New Zealand-bred mare is a good key horse because she may have more than she has already shown and she could even be better at the extra distance. So, for exotic partners that may inflate a price, try using Divas Image. She may have a good spot to move late in the extra distance and will be a price.

MEN OF STEEL

Another 1 1/8-miles feature closes the program—the $471,100 William Haughton Memorial for older horse pacers. Here are a dozen undeniably powerful pacers that can beat one another on any given night because this division is practically reciprocal in its talent.

So which of these stalwarts is the flavor of the evening? Certainly McWicked is the buzz horse, having rallied with ease against some of these in his most recent two miles. Still, it is near impossible to dismiss some others, given certain scenarios. Donttellmeagain’s Graduate win was super and he will get support, as will Rockin Ron and All Bets Off from the Burke barn.

For us, it is worth it to look closely at Burke’s Filibuster Hanover. He was the buzz horse until he found leaving from some outside posts troublesome to his up-front style. More importantly, he lost his buzz, which you could see by how the crowd was betting him after he won a Graduate at Tioga. In the Ben Franklin he went off a serious 12-1. In the most recent Graduate he was 5-1 with a strenuous overland trip that tired him to finish fifth. In this group he will again, even with a post-position on the inside, probably be wagered upon behind two others, at least. With that wagering status, he will be worth the win wager.

’SHEPPARD’ SEXTET

At Yonkers on July 14 only six frosh-colt pacers go for the $100,000 offered in the Lawrence B. Sheppard Final. There were no elims with such a small number on the docket of a race that usually attracts enough for two elims of eight.

The colt to beat is World On Edge, a Roll With Joe colt from the Ron Burke barn. World On Edge won his first pari-mutuels race but it is the brand of Burke and the services of track-star-driver George Brennan that will attract more action.

From post 2, Ray Schnittker’s Hickfromfrenchlick is one to keep an eye on here, though we won’t expect a big reward to supporting considering the size of the field. “Hick” is the son of So Surreal, who is currently a hot sire and obviously caught Ray’s eye when he took on the chore of breaking Hick. In true Schnittker style, Hick will attempt to show the kind of early lick (no pun) that can make the four turns all his own. Hopefully, the crowd will dive deeply into the Burke colt and like the other first-time winner over Hick and two others that debut at two.


FRESHMAN FROLICS

Two-year-old races at the beginning of each season are the most difficult events for handicappers to forecast winners, no less where their bets will have 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 12
Scioto
Sackfullofmemories R2; Friendalee R3; Flawless Stone R5
Philly
Caia R11

July 13
Hawthorne
Mr PM R3
Hoosier
Yacht Week R8
Vernon
King For Life R11
Meadowlands
Stella Jane R1

July 14
Pocono
Blood Money R1; Warrawee Unique R4; Sugar Shock R5; No Mass Amor R10
Meadows
Remember Then R3


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

Bangor
7/13/18, Random Blizzard R7
 
Buffalo
7/14/18, +Sunset Sid
 
Grand River
7/13/18, J eagle Feather R3; Raging Fingers R10

Hawthorne
7/13/18, Exit Sandman R6; Scary Harry R8

Hoosier
7/12/18, +Skyway Raider R6; +Quick Aracache R6
7/14/18, American Girl R11

Meadows
7/16/18, +Capt Chaps Hanover R1

Mohawk
7/14/18, +Major Hill R2

Monticello
7/12/18, +Big Bambu R1; Tough Get Going R5
7/16/18, +Electrofire R5

Northfield
7/14/18, +Pinkpolosocks R3; +BB Liberty R4; Who Says That R11
7/16/18, +Monarch Baur R1

Northville
7/14/18, +Playbook R2

Ocean
7/12/18, +Putonahappyface R2; Master Clave R5; Rock King Deo R11

Philly
7/12/18, Common Parlance R1; +Lioness Hanover R2; Gerard Hanover R6
 
Plainridge
7/12/18, Dial A Chic R3; CJ Marshall R6
7/13/18, +Silvio Dante R7

Running Aces
7/14/18, Usgeneral WA Mann R6; Peekaboo Tattoo R7; +Opticrombie R8
7/15/18, +Delaey R R11

Saratoga
7/12/18, +Fight Like Mike R1; Gibus R4; Lasa Dida Lady R7

Scarborough
7/12/18, Love Without End R3

Scioto
7/13/18, +California Love R3
7/14/18, +K Ryan Bluechip R7

Tioga
7/13/18, +Shaylo R2; +Cashahallic R3; +Gifted Way R5
7/15/18, +Shabang R3

Vernon
7/13/18, +Simple Saver N R2; +Ex Crown R6

Yonkers
7/13/18, Freakonomics R6; JK Heaven Sent R10
7/14/18, Missile J R10