The unmatched Grand Circuit season drives onward with a hotbed of activity through North America. Stars in stakes head for The Red Mile for a few weeks, while Dayton holds its Derbys and all divisions see the Breeders Crown at Hoosier on the horizon.
More harness race contenders battle throughout the circuits and our never-ending TwinSpires’ horses-to-watch (H2W) list ensues.
Bluegrass (BG) stakes kick off the 2020 Grand Circuit’s first week at The Red Mile on Oct. 2.
Frosh-filly pacers ($133k) number 10 to post in their first BG split. One of the 10 is Brett Pelling’s Test Of Faith. The Art Major filly comes from a big win over the border and there is no reason he should not embrace this place with another win.
Nine more BG filly pacers line up for the next division. Two of three trained by Ron Burke will get the most action but we lean into a possible upset for a good price with Noel Daley’s Shania Blue Chip. The Roll With Joe progeny are always dangerous and very often overlooked by bettors. This one fits that profile; she should pay well if she wins while improving.
The BG frosh-colt trotters’ ($105k) first mile should beware of Southwind Tyrion, another Ave Svanstedt rising star that may offer chances better than his odds, considering the excellent record of Cuatro De Julio, a Trixton colt in a high-caliber crop.
The next colt mile has a few arguments, but the Marcus Melander-trained In Range may be the strongest. He has four wins for six starts and, as we predicted in our pandemic projections for hot first-crop sires, Bar Hopping is doing well. Melander liked this one best; we should, too.
Another colt-trot BG sends nine to post mixed resumes. We are going to hit on Jack Fire. He leaves from the outside for Nifty Norman and is apt to be dismissed for his post and the bettors’ preference for others with more popular trainers and drivers. It’s one reason we lean into progeny by Cantab Hall, whose products come through with appreciative odds considering how much they pay when winning.
MORE BLUEGRASS TAILS
Red Mile BG episodes for freshmen adorn the Oct. 3 program. Our focus is on the frosh-colt paces, each around $120k.
Eight line up for round one. This is a perfect spot for Beach Party to surrender maiden status. Brett Pelling’s stable is still settling into its return to the states and this Somebeachsomewhere colt could make a lot of money at three, starting with a good share of this purse. In only four starts, he is well within the conditions of his foes, so we’ll accept a good price, thank you.
Another frosh-colt pace sends us an outside contender related in history to the first BG colt pace. Winner Is Coming, a Tony Alagna son of Betting Line, finished right behind Beach Party in the Sept. 21 Red Mile event. That race, won by Almanc, went on to finish fourth in Hoosier’s Elevation feature last week. The winner of the Elevation, Southwind Gendry, is bound to be the favorite here, leaving from the outside. Winner Is Coming will be assessed too lightly compared to the favorite, who was not as classy as Almanac. Sure, they’re only freshman pacers and their classes are suspiciously compared, but it is not such a great risk for a strong price.
The third BG colt pace features nine youngsters. Joe Holloway’s Perfect Sting (by Always B Miki) goes into immediate focus as a six-for-six winner. Beaten Metro Pace favorite Pirate Hanover (broke on the move) may have been overrated anyway, but will get noticed here, no doubt.
The best candidate for a mild upset against Holloway’s colt’s win streak is another “Miki” colt—Always A Miki. Nancy Takter almost had a Pennsylvania champ in the division but he broke in the stretch. Then, in a Kindergarten as a dead-on favorite, he was interfered with in the stretch, thwarting a better-than-fifth finish. Those are two forgivable incidents that could help the odds on a definite contender.
Dayton offers three Derbys on Oct 3, featuring national stars.
The $175k Distaff Derby brings back champion pacing mare Shartin N from a brief rest and tests her again with familiar enemies. One wrong move and she is beaten by Kissin In The Sand. Pick your poison among the rest.
The $175k Dayton Trotting Derby headline reads: GIMPANZEE GONE. Without the best trotter in the world right now, which of the other top aged trotters is the default winner? Added in this fray is Majestic Player A from Ohio conditioner Walter Haynes Jr. Thirteen wins for 17 starts is a record that poses a threat, even to Atlanta and Manchego. Considering the rugged schedule most of these have endured up to now, there’s an upset afoot by the lightly raced When Dovescry. Pelling could have this one as sharp as she was beating Manchego on Hambo day, and here at a much better price.
The Derby triptych finale is the $176k Dayton Pacing Derby and the headline reads: BETTORS WISH RETURNS! We know now that the brash four-year-old champ is retiring to breed in Pennsylvania in 2021, but we can only assume his terrible performance in Canada recently was an anomaly. If he stinks in this race, he may be heading for the mares early. Century Farroh is a beaten favorite after a disappointing performance in the same race.
Backstreet Shadow made one storming move last race that failed to be a winning one but showed more aggression than most of the others going into the stretch (including the winner). That is normal for the pacer—he wins mostly or finishes off the board.
Ohio stand-up elder Our Majordan A was marvelous on Hambo day against the best in this field and more and has earned better than the eight others he faces. Still, Backstreet Shadow could win this making the right move at the right time, especially if Bettors Wish does not bounce back.
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.
10/3/20, +Under Paid R6
10/1/20, +Colitian ae R7; as R11; Random Task A R10; +A Fancy Face R12
10/2/20, +Part-time Hanover R4
10/3/20, +Bathsheba AS R1; Shenzi AS R1; +Heavenissofaraway R2
10/3/20, +Thespywholovedme R6
10/1/20, Always Soggy R4; Smiley Dragon R5
10/2/20, Roll With Time R9
10/3/20, Here Comes William R7; +Covered Bridge R10
10/1/20, +Town Victor R5
10/2/20, Aftermeyourfirst R2
10/1/20, Six Roses R8
10/3/20, +Dixie Lullaby R4; +Lakeisha Hall R13
10/4/20, +Absolut Rocks R10
10/2/20, +Impressive Chief R7
10/2/20, +Harley K R9
10/1/20, +Pure Sunshine R11
10/4/20, Okolica R1; +Han Solo R5
10/2/20, High Baller R2; Dip Me Hanover R6
10/3/20, Flawless Country R5; Aunt Irene R7; +Bella Bellini R9
10/1/20, Lifeinthesummer R1; Amini R3; +HP Titiana Runner R6; HP Mama B R8
10/1/20, Majorette Angie R1; +Milliondollargem A R5
10/5/20, Frankie Rocks R4; Mister Rebbily A R5; +Ari Allstar R6