Only a few weeks ago, as 2018 ended, our TwinSpires Harness Players’ Horse of the Year emerged. It was unusually late in the season for a candidate but by a mere few dollars we had our 2018 champion. This past week, on a slow Monday in January, our first candidate for 2019’s TwinSpires Harness Players’ Horse of the Year rolled home to pay three digits (last year’s candidates peaked in the $80 range). Imasharktoo is our current candidate for the honor, paying $107.00 to win from the horses-to-watch list (H2W). More huge prices are likely to come since there are more than 11 months left to the season, but will they eclipse 52-1? Stay tuned. Meanwhile, there were all the other features, some affected (as were H2W members) by a sweeping winter storm across the plains and up the East Coast that cancelled a few track programs. Let’s go over our success and failure from the week of wagering. Thursday, Jan. 17 At WoMo, in the first leg of the Blizzard Series, our outside contenders were beaten but not by favorites. Public choices fell in the two divisions. We were fourth with Persistant Xample (12-1) in the first split and sixth with Bea My Delight (33-1) in the second division. At Yonkers, we won as the public went along with us, with Fashion Bythebeach ($2.80, $2.10, $2.10 ok) in one of our two features. In the other, we were second with First Class Act ($2.80, $2.20), assisting in an exacta worth $13.40. Friday, Jan. 18 A Power Plays attempt at the Meadows yielded only one show horse, PC’s Expresso ($3.00), while our other exotic contenders followed—Mykanos (5-2) fourth, Mr Bill G (18-1) sixth and Uncle Hal (6-1), seventh. The public choice won. At WoMo, the Snowshoe Series began. Our best finish there was in division two with Marc Mellow Man ($3.70) losing to the race favorite. In Snowshoe’s first division our 9-2 shot, Kenny Joe, broke and was eliminated, skipping home eighth. The race went to a 4-1 shot. In division three an 11-1 shot upset, while our 8-1 shot, Somehowsomeday, finished sixth. Saturday, Jan. 19 Two features at Northfield were part of the program cancelled due to Winter Storm Harper. 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 38 active horses (a 11-percent win hit rate and a 37-percent ATB [across-the-board] 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 weeks) It is up to you to follow horses that have not performed before this weekly review. Winners Imasharktoo, $107.00, $27.60, $14.80, Meadows Zagster, $6.60, $3.70, $2.90, Yonkers Four Card Major, $3.40, $2.60, $2.20, Meadows Sgt Papa Daddy, $2.80, $2.20, $2.20, Pompano Seconds Boinganator, $11.40, $5.70, Yonkers Justcallmeronald, $7.00, $7.20 ok, Meadowlands Fire Light, $5.60, $4.80, Monticello Silverhill Volo, $2.80, $2.20 (Exacta $4.20), Cal-Expo Thirds Moon Jumper, $5.80, Monticello King’s Beach, $5.00, Meadows Whatnblazes, $3.80, Freehold Lucpark, $3.20, Pompano Hagginatthebeach, $2.10, Cal-Expo Ville Valo, $2.10, Freehold News & Notes As Illinois struggles to sustain its horse-racing programs, a new governor is approached to recognize the value of the entire industry. For one, Gov. JB Pritzker heard from the state’s harness-horsemen’s association during talks on agribusiness. The governor was advised that the once flourishing equine business in Lincolnland [sic] “is the only segment of the gaming industry that has significant room to grow and provide real and sustainable jobs in agriculture.” Coming out in support of the horsemen is former Gov. Jim Edgar, who strongly backed the industry during his tenure. Woodbine Entertainment (WE) unveiled WoMo’s $16-million stakes schedule for the 2019 season. It remains generally the same as ’18, except for a few changes. New in 2019, WE changed the format of the $665,000 Canadian Trotting Classic and $350,000 Elegantimage Stakes for three-year-old trotters. The two stakes will no longer require eliminations. Instead, the final will be limited to the 10 highest lifetime money earners among horses entered at draw time. Consolations may be contested depending on the number of horses entered for each event. In a statistical rarity, the aged pacing division for 2019 will include the four richest sophomore pacers from 2018. Three of them, including Lather Up, are horses that could have retired to the stallion ranks instead of returning to the fray. A winner of more than $1.1 million at three, Lather Up is a homebred son of Im Gorgeous. He was a wildly talented figure in glamour-boy events and will face some of his opponents again. Now in the older pacing wars, Lather Up will once again battle three of his toughest foes—Courtly Choice, Dorsoduro Hanover and Jimmy Freight. Buffalo Raceway is poised for its season opener on Jan. 30. The 66-day meet features racing on Wednesday and Saturday evenings through March with post times set for 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively. Friday action will begin in April with a 5 p.m. post. The season will coming to a close on July 20. Two Sunday afternoon cards are on tap for June 16 and 23rd at 12:30 p.m.. The track will be dark on June 14 and Friday, June 21. Three special 7:15 p.m. Saturday posts are scheduled for thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown events on May 4, May 18 and June 8. Extraordinary Extras Indulge in my monthly columns, Alternative Actions and Bettors Banquet at Harness Racing Update