The first complete week of the 2021 season is afoot—or should we say, “a-stride”? Two- and three-year-old pacers and trotters have graduated to new divisions and the aged will face, most of the time, older and more experienced foes.

The stakes season is still a while away, so overnight events pit a mixture of ages against one another—this is where we ended 2020 and begin 2021, selecting features for bettors more than historians or fanatics from the score of North American overnights that promise fair prices.

As well, our never-ending TwinSpires’ horses-to-watch list (H2W) suggests horses that might enhance exotic combinations as well as produce fair win, place and show targeting.
 
POWER PLAYS

Freehold / Races 2, 3. 4. 5
Thursday, Jan. 7

We put an afternoon’s focus on the $1 Pick 4-sequence, considering the following horses for any wager combination and exotic combos.

Race 2
Since the morning line (ML) and past-performance lines point to two obvious favorites, this might be a good spot to begin the Pick 4 with alternative possibilities. First, we notice the ML’s third choice, Final Justice. A beaten favorite by a neck, he fits the conditions well and can turn the tables on the loss with a good trip over Rocks Noble Artist, who steps up after losing after stepping down from a loss.

Race 3
In races where it appears no horse can win, the best route is to lean on horses that have at least proven they are not yet that kind of a horse. From Flamboro comes Brightside Kelvin, with a ML of 5-1, who changes trainers to the local, productive Edwin Quevedo. His first appearance in the U.S. was a forgivable Meadowlands stroll at 34-1 but this is a whole new ballpark to swing at with a resume better than the rest.

Race 4
Another romp of the restless, this affair is heavily leaning into the rail horse, Twin B Friendly (6-5). We would not take this bloke for that money. Our choice has to be Macjestic Toddy N. Toss out her Freehold seventh-place finishes from post 7. Nix her recent one for the overland journey stress (she was 8-5) and see her flourish at 5-2 in November ‘20. That resembles a fair trip to improve upon here and win—at a better price, too.

Dreaming Jeanie could wind up in the exotic mix with a smart route. Toss out her 8-hole stroll and look at her half-mile productivity in mid-December at Freehold.

Race 5
Julie Miller’s Keystone Orion practically won four in a row, sharing photo space with others to earn a pair of wins and a pair of seconds here, so it is hard not to include the aging trotter in any combo. Wayward Man comes from recently closed Philly where he has been competitive against a tad better class. So there’s that.

The courageous support goes to Exuberance. From post 8, Taylor Gower’s trotter could show his superiority in the experience department given the right path and upset with eyes popping at the price. In any event, here’s one that should pump up any exotic since it is tough to imagine not seeing the number 8 on the toteboard when the dust clears.

THE SHORT LIST

At each Ohio Miami meet, we pay special attention to the entries from trainer Adam Short. The high-win-percentage trainer gets many of his wins for a meet in its first few weeks and not everyone has caught on to the pattern, allowing for very good prices. The Miami meet has just begun, so here are Adam’s entries at Miami covering Jan. 7 through Jan. 9 with brief comments.

Franzo, 1/8 R1 – A good qualifier has this one ready in a local series.

American Empress N, 1/8 R8 – Scratched at Northfield from 8-hole start to have a better chance at Miami (you know that dreaded 8 hole on the half-mile?)

Persistent Threat A, 1/8 R14 – This one likes Miami, having been successful here against similar foes as today.

Cyclone Kiwi N, 1/9 R3 – Just missed on 1/3 as Miami launched when on H2W.

Drawing Dragons, 1/9, R12 – We nabbed him at double digits the last week at Dayton and he could certainly win again at Miami.

FEATURES~FEATURES~FEATURES

Meadowlands / Race 7
Saturday / Jan. 9

There are lots of class-droppers for this conditioned pace, as well as some coming in from recently closed Philly and Yonkers. The same ilk has made dips like this before with no avail.

Last week Italian Delight N finally found a winning spot (this time as a favorite), dropping for the second time and tonight he hovers here around the same level. An unknown property from Ron Burke, Im A Gigolo N, new to this hemisphere, goes in his second race here after a whopping finish second. These two should get some major play.

A deeper inspection for us finds relevance in Dakota Jack. He drops from a recent pair at Philly where he could not overcome the outside starts but handled them with grace. Also on the outsiders list, we’re in for Dealer’s Table. A beaten favorite, he finished second and drops here. He will leave from post 10 but it may not be a hindrance.

FEATURES~FEATURES~FEATURES

Northfield / Race 13
Saturday / Jan. 9

Here’s an event with some of the track’s top trainers’ stock. But, the more recognizable of the bunch will get more support than those on the bottom of the list. For instance, Ron Burke has two in the fray; C. Brian Loney, Sam Schillaci and Jessica Roegner send three more in the field. Left at the bottom of the list is William Bercury.

Bercury’s win percentage is usually better than most of the aforementioned. He has fewer horses to race but success is successful no matter. In this race, Bercury gets the horrid Northfield 8 hole with Blue Ivy.

Driver Aaron Merriman has two four drives to choose in this race—one is Blue Ivy (Merriman knows Bercury’s record). The others are Burkes’ duo and one from Greg West. Blue Ivy is a must, at least, for exotics combos, because with or without Merriman, Blue Ivy finishing in the top four will boost all returns.

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

Cal-Expo
1/9/21, Pecorino R2; Getter Queen Flush R5; Ticket To Roll R6; Along Came Jane R12
1/10/21, Brownielicious R7; In For The Chase R11; Mikis Magic Ride R11

Dover
1/7/21, Lets Have Another R5; Play Times Over R7

Freehold
1/7/21, +Bad Day Black Rock R9; +Dalton Did It R10
1/8/21, +Thaneeya R2; +If I Must R3; +Sumatra R7; Saydence R12

Meadowlands
1/8/21, Dbldelitebrigade N R9
1/9/21, Acting Out ae R2

Meadows
1/7/21, Cotton To You R5
1/8/21, Bobby K Hill R4; Wonder Bull R6; Docbetts Shamrock R7; Whats The Word R12

Miami
1/8/21, +Panoramic View R10
1/9/21, +The Dark Shadow R10

Monticello
1/8/21, Burning Desire R2; Sedona Seelster R5

Northfield
1/9/21, Arroyas Dance R14

Pompano
1/7/21, Starcasim R3; Captain Keen R9
1/10/21, Rural Art R9

Yonkers
1/11/21, +In The Huddle R1