Monday Harness Preview for 6/9/2014

June 9th, 2014

by Ted Black

In the aftermath of California Chrome's fourth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, racing enthusiasts are now looking to counter the after effects of extending the Triple Crown drought even further by focusing their attention on several harness racing venues.

Monday evening Harrington Raceway offers a 14-race card that will enable racing fans to recoup their losses from Saturday afternoon or perhaps enhance their profits if they played against California Chrome and several other beaten favorites on the stakes-laden card.

In the opening race on the card Monday, look for Ivan Blue Chip (Ross Wolfenden) to benefit from his rail post position and prevail as a modest outsider in this non-winners of three races lifetime class. Ivan Blue Chip saw his modest, two-race win streak snapped last week when he finished a nondescript sixth while starting from post seven, but the return to the rail should seriously heighten his chances.

Look for either A Quick Buck (Montrell Teague) or Von Ryan's Express (Victor Kirby) to control the tempo and either should be the post time choice. A Quick Buck was a solid second despite a first over trip last week, while Von Ryan's Express has won two of his three local starts for trainer Wayne Long since arriving from Harrah's Philadelphia. Von Ryan's Express, who will start from post six tonight, overcame post seven to win last out.

In the second race on the card, look for Portrait (Art Stafford, Jr.) to control the tempo from the outset from his rail post and lead throughout and potentially draw off late in the non-winners of $6501 last five starts class. Portrait has gotten accustomed to facing much tougher in five starts since returning from Harrah's and two starts back he uncorked early fractions of 26.2 and 54.4 before settling for third. He should be able to get to the half in 57 seconds flat this evening.

Two races later in the fourth, give Wee Brother N (Wolfenden) a serious chance at the upset in this non-winners of $10,501 last five starts class. The Peter Tritton trainee has won two of his last four starts and will be a decent price thanks to the presence of Hang Ten (Allan Davis), a Run Burke trainee who makes his local debut following a handy score at Harrah's.

Two races later in the sixth, the featured $17,000 Open Handicap for older pacers, another Burke trainee will garner some attention but the local debut of Dancin Yankee is likely to upstage the presence of that foe.

Dancin Yankee (Wolfenden) opened the campaign by climbing through the local ranks at Dover Downs and dominating the Open/Preferred Hcp there. He then ventured to Yonkers Raceway in New York for the lucrative George Morton Levy Memorial series and more than held his own against the likes of Foiled Again, Easy Again, Mach It So, Apprentice Hanover and eventual series champion Mach It So.

Dancin Yankee, a six-year-old Yankee Cruiser stallion trained by Josh Green for owner Baron Racing, owns a solid 8-3-1 slate and $200,000 bankroll from 15 starts this year and rebounded from a fifth-place finish in the $567,000 Levy final to capture an Invitational at Pocono Downs in 1:49 and then the Preferred over that track in 1:47.2, an all-age world record for a pacer on a five-eighths mile oval.

In his most recent start, Dancin Yankee settled for fourth in the $140,000 Molson Pace at Western Fair in Canada, again facing the likes on State Treasurer, Apprentice Hanover and Foiled Again. Despite his outside post six assignment here, Dancin Yankee will likely be the odds-on favorite and a handy victory will likely entice his connections to supplement him to the lucrative Robert Quillen Memorial here in September.

Of course, some of the locals will contend a victory by Dancin Yankee on Monday is hardly a foregone conclusion. Looking to upset him are Just A Jolt, the obvious choice for spring horse of the meet based on his five wins in seven local starts for trainer Jim King, Jr., Rock On Moe, a two-time Open winner since departing the Levy series, and Take It Back Terry, a Burke trainee who has won three of five starts at Yonkers this spring.