TwinSpires Harness Blog reports on its feature races this weekend. Plus, we share the shape of our horses-to-watch list (H2W) from last week’s choices. Check our News & Notes section for reporting and remarking on the states of our sport.

Thursday, Dec. 10

The Philly Pick 3 aimed at some strong upsets while not denying any ticket of obvious favorites. Going along with the crowd based upon our choices got you only two winners, both favorites.

Lindys Big Bang ($2.10, $2.10, $2.10 ok) took the second leg, while we were second with Troller ($4.80, $2.60) to produce a paltry $6.00 exacta. Ginger Tree Bren ($3.00, $2.20, $2.20 ok) won the third leg, while our 16-1 probable broke, finishing seventh.

The first leg was taken by a 4-1 shot, while our hopeful, Greek Legend (11-1) finished sixth.

At Dayton, looking for some high-priced winners for your Rolling Doubles, we only came close with Blacklist  Tam($3.60), third to the favorite. In another race, our top choice, Fairy Gold scratched, while I M McCited (4-1) finished fifth to a 2-1 winner.

Friday, Dec. 11

At the Meadows it was Power Plays time with a 50-cent Pick 4, with many single-race exotics available. In the first leg, we won with the favorite, Docbetts Shamrock ($4.20, $2.80, $2.10), with another choice, Kolt Power ($3.20, $2.60), second. Achilles Blue Chip (7-2) disappointed, finishing seventh.

In leg two, another public choice went our way with Butter Bay Hanover ($5.00, $4.20, $2.40), with our best probable priced pick Cheyenne Jeffrey (7-1) getting fifth.

The next two legs delivered nothing except the lack of luck that never explains what could have happened. Favorite New Evidence broke to lose; Given Up Terror (36-1) got home eighth and Hobgoblin (53-1), finished seventh. Those three fell victims to a 13-1 winner. Leg three went to a 3-1 shot, while were were fifth with Modern Rock (7-2) and fourth with Later Dudes (5-1).
 
Saturday, Dec. 12

Saturday had two selected features at Cal-Expo. In the first selected feature, we benefited from the public’s second choice breaking the pylon rule to be disqualified from the win spot and placed last. Our choice, 10-1 Tropical Fruit ($4.60, $6.00), finished third an inherited the place spot. The $2 exacta came back $16.

In the second Cal Expo selected feature, beaten favorite Friskies Angel (12-1) could not handle this week’s group, finishing third to last to a 7-2.

H2W LIST RESULTS

The H2W results list across-the-board prices. Exactas listed include a H2W horse finishing second to a race-favorite or if the first two finishers are H2W horses (an asterisk appears when both horses are listed—a cold exacta). The note “ok” determines that prices are correct (even when a show price exceeds a place price or all prices are the same).

Please note that some results reflect horses racing after the blog posts (they appear the following week).

This week, there were 34 active horses (a 18 percent win hit rate and a 35-percent ATB [across-the-board] hit rate).

Winners

Outlaw Blue By You, $16.60, $6.20, $3.80, Cal Expo
Brackley Beach, $11.60, $5.60, $2.80, Meadows
Jimbelina, $9.20, $5.80, $3,80, WoMo
Swiss House Onfire, $3.60, $2.60, $2.20, Yonkers
Baywood Shadow, $2.80, $2.20, $2.10, Monitcello
Alyvia Deo, $2.20, $2.10, $2.10, Philly

Seconds

Deprived, $4.60, $2.60, Northfield
Gitterdonefortyone, $4.20, $4.00 (Exacta $12.20), Northfield
Keystone Orion, $4.00, $2.40 (Exacta $15.80), Freehold
Electric Western, $2.90, $2.10, Yonkers
Always Windy, $2.80, $2.40, Dayton

Thirds

Becks Wood Place, $2.20, Northfield
 
NEWS & NOTES

Harness racing in Alberta, Canada, is not thriving. For one, Jim Marino, a successful trainer on the circuit, earning $500,000-plus in purses in the last five seasons, is heeding the province’s near-term uncertainty, mostly due to the spread of Covid-19. Marino shifts to developing younger horses for the time being. “I’m selling the top ones at the track to focus on the young ones,” he said. Marino has a 40-horse stable, led by stakes-winner Major Custard. “A lot of horsemen are going to have a tough time, and I’m sure a lot of people in all lines of small businesses in Alberta and B.C. are having a tough time.”

The Meadowlands’ stakes purses for 2021 will total more than $20 million. Spearheaded by the return of the $6.5-million Breeders Crown to the New Jersey oval (the first time since 2016), stakes opportunities thrive from March through November. Season highlights include the $1.5-million Hambletonian and its Oaks, $700,000 Meadowlands Pace, and well over $1 million in New Jersey-bred events. The stakes will begin with the second edition of the New Jersey Breeders Maturity for four-year-old pacers and trotters in March and April, respectively.

This is sadder news following sad news: Balmoral Park, located just south of Chicago in Crete, Ill., last hosted harness racing in 2015 after 90 years of thoroughbred and standardbred meets. Since then, it was repurposed as an equestrian facility, but has recently reemerged on the market for an asking price of $4 million. The 200-acre property includes the one-mile limestone track, three-story grandstand, 20 barns, offices, backstretch dormitories, and an expansive parking area. When purchased, most likely all signs that it was a racetrack will disappear.

Chicago’s harness circuit also lost Maywood Park in 2015. The half-mile track, a dozen miles from downtown Chicago, housed more than 33,000 people since it opened in 1946. In 1947, Maywood hosted the first televised harness program. In 1957 the spring meet was televised by NBC on The Tonight Show. In 2019, demolition began, erasing all signs of the racetrack in order to build an industrial and warehouse development, which is turning into an Amazon distribution center.

Extraordinary Extras

Indulge in our columns, Alternative Actions and Bettors Banquet at Harness Racing Update