In our first preview blog of the New Year, we wish a Happy Birthday to all racehorses. On Jan. 1, every division of standardbred racehorse introduced new members of both sexes and gaits. In the coming months, the stakes season will ensue for all of them. As for the first few months of 2019, bettors will devote their attention to events that specialize in conditions. As usual, the TwinSpires harness blog selects races from across the winter menu of programs at North American raceways in search of another season of profitable play. The first preview of the 2019 season offers selected features and rounds of Power Plays (PP), making these blogs a personal newsletter for using horses in all types of wagers. Do your own handicapping again this year and respect our off-the-beaten-track opinions on “live horses” that may improve to your betting agenda. Another year for the weekly H2W (horses-to-watch) list will be available in every preview blog. Consider our H2W selections. Open your new bookkeeping ledger, arm your TwinSpires betting account and consult the H2W for all of your harness action. FEATURES^FEATURES^FEATURES Monticello / Race 8 Thursday, Jan. 3 This is a simple, straightforward conditioner where some uppity droppers from Yonkers will get lots of attention for racing for higher purses at the premier New York half-mile track. However, a 10-1 Morning Line (ML) pacer from post 5 gets all of our attention. Superiorcourt lost his last two races of 2018, mostly because of a break in stride in one, a tough three-turn outside trip in the other and because both of those races had him leaving from post 8. However, before those he scored three times in this class in November and December. In this race, the crowd will most likely mirror the ML odds choice leaving from posts 7, but Superiorcourt may not be done with his dominance in this class and we want to be with him if he continues to win, especially if the track line-maker is correct. POWER PLAYS Flamboro / Race 7 Thursday, Jan. 3 Here’s a race chock full of wagering options. It launches a Pick 4, offers an exacta and a trifecta and a Super Hi-5. Contenders are listed in post position order. Morning Line (ML) choices are in the first three posts and suck up the chances of others—if you buy the ML. The third ML choice, Open Water, probably won’t get the lead here but may benefit from those that do (the other two ML choices) and that will give him a better shot come the stretch. Dabunka is the ML choice but for price and purpose, use him only in the two last positions of any Super Hi-5 combo you may play. Mervs Tru Legacy was all out winning at this level last week and is in prime shape to do it again or, at least, make a big impression on the toteboard, especially if we leave out the 2 and 3 horses from the exacta and trifecta. Asterism will bring the best win price of the aforementioned, since he won’t be taken kindly by bettors. He was scratched sick after being devoured at this level due to an outside trip and post. His Nov. 1 race, though, demands respect at 94-1 and if he is in the one-through-five mix, the payoff will glisten. Montana Ben was claimed two back at Rideau-Carleton and raced well at Mohawk at the $8000 level after that. He has strong back class with good results and is back at the $7,000 tag facing foes of lesser abilities. POWER PLAYS Western Fair /Race 8 Friday, Jan. 4 This claiming pace launches a Pick 4 and offers an exacta and superfecta. One of last week’s Western Fair Power Plays became a part of a cancelled program, stranding three suggested contenders we offered. That trio returns in this event, so we repeat our support notes for them, as follows: We despise favorites that return after failing in the same class but have to respect them as enemies for price and purpose. So, including Lady Everlong in the exotics is a must—especially if you go as deep as the superfecta. Coming from the H2W list for the first time a few races back, Friends To The End is also a must (contender), though it would be better in price if she won. Her place-and-show record is great; she is always in the mix and stays in the class where she cashes all of those checks, usually with a big brush that sooner or later (today) put her in the winner’s circle. Larjon Legacy is similar in productivity and would be a gift going off at her 6-1 morning line. She keeps getting beat by those on easier paths and the outside post here may afford her a better shot than some of the inside traffic that has thwarted victories. POWER PLAYS Cal-Expo / Race 11 Friday, Jan. 4 This conditioned pace is a good roundup for exotics and we have a sharp trio to suggest that should pay off. Trainer James Lackey continues to train and drive Last Dragon in a high-percentage campaign at Lackey’s home base in California. This spot is terrific to continue the surge among these tougher West Coast pacers. Last Dragon has 14 across-the-board finishes in 36 starts, owning the penultimate bank account of this group. Bob Johnson’s Hi Ho’s Little Rey has made the least of the group but has hit the board 10 of 18 times. Johnson, like Lackey, is a California-harness veteran who made his bones on the circuit and is responsible for his barn’s regularly competitive performers earnings. Hi Ho’s Little Rey is just one more of Johnson’s steeds that brings home the bacon. Kathleen Plested, Sacramento’s contemporary champ trainer, brings her hoard back to the area, including the third in our exotic-element trio, To The Limit. This is the probable favorite, with the highest earnings and the services of a locally popular driver. POWER PLAYS Meadowlands / Race 5 Saturday, Jan. 5 For decades one handicapping/betting “gimmick” has been called “horses for courses.” The concept accepts that certain racehorses perform better on certain racetracks. Like all elementary factors there are some truths to the notion but to our knowledge no major study has ever provided proof that any particular racehorse has a super-sensitivity to a unique racing oval. That being covered, we point your attention to McArdles Lightning. In this conditioned pace, McArdles Lightning races for only the third time in nine months. Two of those races were late last year. Now seven, he is under the tutelage of Tom Bartolo. He should be considered a “horse for the course” since his history racing at the Meadowlands, has been productive enough not to count him out as a contender. Bartolo drops him slightly in class here and the crowd won’t be digging into their pockets to back him off of his recent return to the races—but we will because he may be one of the few horses for courses that makes the gimmick so appealing. FEATURES^FEATURES^FEATURES Miami Valley / Races 6, 9, 10 Saturday, Jan. 5 We are making note of three separate races to feature for one specific reason. Miami Valley’s first week of racing begins on Jan. 4. We draw your attention to three horses trained by Adam Short. Last season, Adam won at a 28-percent clip, a sterling account for horses from his barn. That won’t be important to bettors this early in the Miami meet, so it is smart handicapping to get a jump on all of Adam’s early successes right out of the gate. Adam begins sending his students to battle on the second day of the meet with three that deserve any bettor’s attention for win, place, show bets and as elements of the various exotics offered. In Race 6, the horse is Swapportunity; in Race 9, the horse is Vintage Grand, and in Race 10, the horse is Ahdoughnolum. 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 Cal Expo 1/4/19, Centalta Glory R1; Chillinlikeavillin R3; Fire Dance R7; +Oh Yeah R12 1/5/19, Melodies That Rock R4; Brigitte Bordeaux R6 Dover 1/3/19, +Wichita Lineman R6 Flamboro 1/3/19, EL Sparticus R6; Hammering Haley R3; Blue Eyed Cowboy R8 Freehold 1/4/19, +Fox Valley Hermia R2; +Myeyesadoreya R2; +Proud Moment R5; +Keystone Nikki R7; +Full Explosion R11 1/5/19, +Cool Runnings R5 Meadows 1/3/19, Kings Beach R1; Daliocity R4; Nathan Feelsgood R7 Miami 1/5/19, Nohillforaclimber R2; Freaky Feet Pete R12 Mohawk 1/5/19, Make Mine Mocha R6; Shamballa R8; Isitfridayyet R9 Monticello 1/3/19, +Retail Marc Up R1 1/4/19, +Hasty Western R2; Noble Power R6 Northfield 1/4/19, Moonshine Mickey R3; Bourbons Best R6; Goingtocalifornia R12; +I Could Care Less R14 1/5/19, +Rocksys Way R1; +Tucson Breeze R14 Pompano 1/3/19, +All Net R4; Brinks Job R5 1/6/19, Doo Wop Hanover R4; Sgt Papa Daddy R7 Western Fair 1/4/19, Falls Creek R8; Impressively Done R9 Yonkers 1/7/19, Western Beachboy R6