Suddenly, harness racing is just like it was always at the beginning of every August. Even more. Lots of stakes activity, eliminations for the Hambletonian, frosh elims, sires stakes, Grand Circuit action, and the stream of live contenders on our horses-to-watch list (H2W) available for all shades of wagers; always peruse the list for participating exotic-wagering elements.

INSS SWAN SOPHS

Two Indiana Sires Stakes (INSS) splits, worth $31k, for colt trotters are the features at Hoosier on July 29. This is leg three for the division.

Trainer Jay Cross, mostly in Florida, nurtured Swan For All-colt Bluebird Deacon before making some noise when Hoosier opened. In this INSS division of six, the colt brings the top earning and an across-the-boad resume of five for six. A good price could await the colt, though, since bettors may put more stock in the faster speed badges from TJs Top Pick and Dude Included.

The other INSS split sends seven to the post, with a dominant contender, the unbeaten Swan In Motion. Towering over this field, he will have to beat himself to lose this for the Macombers. Behind him will be the usual chaos for second and third, so an exotic here is your call.

PETER HAUGHTON SOLO

Ten frosh-colt trotters roll in a single Peter Haughton Memorial elim at the Meadowlands on July 31 for next week’s Peter Haughton Final. Five of these green guys are by Father Patrick, four are by Muscle Hill and one is by Love You.  

Love You is a French stallion whose progeny has won top stakes around the world, attracting quality mares. He is the sire of international stars Coktail Jet, Le Reveur, French Moni, et al. Love You is represented in this field by Julie Miller’s Venerate, (from a Muscle Hill mare). He is a colt with a single win, an impressive one, at the Meadowlands.

Considering the other colts have not proven their particular class value and the blue-blooded Venerate has not proven otherwise, we’re going to take Miller’s colt. A win in this would bring down his price in the final, so perhaps we are privy to a bargain.

Marcus Melander’s Bidensky broke the Meadows while on a good charge. Staying smooth makes him a major contender in this.

DOHERTY DIARIES

Two $20k elims for next week’s Jim Doherty Memorial are on tap at the Meadowlands on July 31, featuring two-year-old filly trotters. Seven are aboard for the first elim. In both elims, your top-of-the-line trainers are represented, as well as a few less popular ones.

The first field of seven includes Nancy Takter’s unbeaten Insta Glam. Certainly the class of the group, her biggest threat leaves to her left; that’s Marcus Melander’s Ineffable. Those two should share some of the win pool with Per Engblm’s Material Girl, who has raced better than her odds getting on the toteboard in all three of her starts. Her most recent, in a New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) final, puts her in direct competition with the other two; she should win this at a better price than them.

Although elim two (seven aboard) also includes some obvious choices by the star trainers, we like the second-time starter from Domenico Cecere—Dream Chapter. A beaten favorite in her first outing, the daughter of Chapter Seven should be able to handle better youngsters; we do not know how good she may be having only one start and one place, but this is the race where she may be worth the best dough, considering the presence of Altar (NJSS winner).

ADIOS REIMAGINED

The Adios Pace Final (the Meadows, Aug. 1) has taken an unfortunate, unexpected turn for speed-champ Papi Rob Hanover. The colt was given an MRI showing a broken coffin bone, an injury that ends his racing career. Papi Rob Hanover raced the fastest winning mile by any horse at the Meadows when winning his elim and would have most assuredly been responsible for Brett Pelling’s fifth Adios winner. Without “Papi” in the Adios mix, we review the field over which Papi once towered.

Following Papi home, 10 lengths behind, was Sweet Truth. However, he was placed third over No Lou Zing by the judges. Sweet Truth (65-1) and “Zing” closed on Papi before he drew off. Both were timed in 1:49.1. The first elim winner, The Greek Freak, was not impressive compared to the Papi elim’s closest losers. Lastly, Catch The Fire’s elim win over Capt Midnight and Elver Hanover was, at best, ordinary. Clearly, Sweet Truth is in the best position to inherit our choice to win the $375k Adios and the price should be higher than are his chances.

The filly Adios on the program is the $107k Adioo Volo. Brian Brown’s Pettycoast Business finished second to Hen Party in a New York Sires Stakes at 9-1. She is in a great spot to find a path to victory while Party Girl Hill and Lyons Sentinel fire and, hopefully, duel.

HAMBLETONIAN TRAIL

CO-ED ELIMS ENSUE

This season, two Hambletonian elims ($50k each), feature one filly each, as a pair of glamour-girl trotters attempt to step into the challenges of the main event against the boys. As a fan and a bettor, I want to see Ramona Hill and Sister Sledge make the final (the first five finishers in each elim earn berths in the Aug. 8 classic).

On Aug. 1 at the Meadowlands, the Hambletonian elims will set the stage for the main event. (This year elims are separated from the final by a week and the Hambletonian Oaks entries will go straight to a final next week.) These are two competitive races for the colts; add a filly in each and try to be objective while measuring the talent for wagers.

FIRST ELIM

It appears that Back Of The Neck will be fancied by many in this episode, perhaps enough to deal some higher odds for truly competitive colts, no less Ramona Hill.

The TwinSpires harness blog has a history with Ramona Hill that dates back to her strong win and big price in the Breeders Crown and continues through her monstrous two-move win last week in the Del Miller. She drew post 7 but that’s close to the rail considering her successes leaving from elementary-cursed posts.

Each inside-post colt is a suspect for shuffling and dueling, which could set up a pristine path for Ramona Hill coming off of turn two. Such a scenario also would benefit Maesteraemon, Marcus Melander’s rarely mentioned colt with deeply productive bloodlines (his sire, Andover Hall, suffered the same Hambo fates as Father Patrick, breaking in a race where he was the best when on gait, and passing on his sterling traits to a few generations).

Certainly, other, more obvious scenarios, make for genuine public-backed results, but the great notion of contradiction—as often we fancy—combines talent with chaos, especially in elims.

SECOND ELIM

A few entries in this nine-horse field stand out, but the lone filly, Sister Sledge, should get far more attention than them. Ron Burke’s Father Patrick filly is the greatest threat in this episode and may only be compromised by being too cocky in an early or mid-race duel. Early lick may not be her forte here, though she could take control as late as midway from a few desperate to find good racing positions at the start—like Moon Bridge.

From post 9, Ake Svanstedt’s Moon Bridge has to fly into a decent position early and could do it as done when surprising bettors not heeding our opinion on June 19. Luc Blais’s Threefiftytwo, a beaten Canadian favorite due to a break last out, also has to dive in early. Neither of them looks as if they could maintain a wire-to-wire trip with the likes of strong competition on their tails.

Melander’s Rome Pays Off (another young choice that paid off for our readers in ’19) will be haunting the front few along with “Sledge” and the surge of Nancy Takter’s Ready For Moni should be ready to fire on all cylinders when it counts most. There is the mix at the wire for our money.

H2W Legend

Review our choices and confirm the wagers available at the prescribed track. H2W offers possible contenders researched from reviewing races. Horses’ names are listed beneath the name of the track with the date of their race and the race number (R6 ) follows. If a + is in front of a horse’s name, it appears on the list for the second time (horses are listed twice only if, at first, they failed to win. An “ae” signals also-eligible. Types of wagers to make are based on your judgment.


H2W LIST

Batavia
7/31/20, +Youcaniknow R2; +Classic American N R3

Hawthorne
7/31/20, +Franksnativewestrn R1; Straight Munro R1; Canthelpbutwin R4
8/1/20, Illini Force R4

Hoosier
7/31/20, +The Candyman Can R11; Island Of The Sea R13; +Verge Of Insanity R14

Kawartha
8/1/20, +Mister Godro R9

Meadowlands
8/1/20, +The Mighty Marner R2; +Geez Joe R9

Meadows
8/1/20, +Meadowbrook Raider R2; Surf The Web R16

Northfield
7/31/20, +Smalltownthrowdown R1
8/1/20, +Wind Of The North R7

Plainridge
7/30/20, +Zinny Mach N R1; +Bettors Fire N R6

Pocono
8/1/20, +Somesizesomestyle R4; +Herehecomesafockin R5; +Wild Bill R13
8/3/20, +Outkast Blue Chip R3

Running Aces
8/1/20, +Queenace Blue Chip R4; +nothinbutagoodtime R5

Vernon
8/1/20, +Jamaican Cowboy R2; Flight Again R6

Woodbine/Mohawk
7/30/20, +Greg R2; +Full View R3
7/31/20, +Edgewater R8
8/1/20, +Foot Soldier R10

Yonkers
7/30/20, +Sweet Heart AS R2; +Shecouldbegood N R5
8/3/20, +Sugaronthebeach R5