Hot Harness Action to Warm Weekend

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It’s official, folks: the planet is warming. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association released a report showing that 2016 was the hottest year ever and projections are showing 2017 to be even hotter.

Though, the culprit for the warming planet, according to the report, is the heated harness racing action taking place across North America. So, let us throw on our tank tops, slide our socks into some sandals, dab a bit of sunscreen onto our nose and embrace the warmth our great sport provides… all forty-ish degrees of it!

Our venture this time around will start at Buffalo Raceway for its Friday, Jan. 20 program. The third race on its card, the second leg of the pick-5, appears to be the most profitable opportunity of the evening at the track. Being a half-mile oval, the majority of the wagering tends to concentrate towards the innermost post positions, often neglecting potential value from a disadvantageous post.

From post position seven, Limitless drops down in class and appears to be in a rare situation where he could win from an outside post. He’ll make his second start off of a layoff this week, which could lead to an improved effort compared to his fourth-place, off-the-pace finish against tougher competition. Whatever odds he goes off at, they will be inflated because of his draw.

We then travel a few miles north to Woodbine Racetrack, which will cap our Friday features. Its sixth race, the third leg of $50,000 guaranteed pick-4, is one of the best harness racing events for value hunters: a bottom-level trotting event.

Call it a crapshoot, call it impossible, call it at 3am to see if it’s awake. This race is mostly void of distinguishable form, exempting Deweykeepumnwhy, who enters this affair after a second-place effort while parked from post 10. Yet, the large mile he went will surely make him the public choice.

Meanwhile, Presquille, because his past efforts are difficult to analyze, should be a decent price. He makes his second start off a two-month layoff following gait troubles that appear to have been resolved, as evidenced by his most recent mile, which was an off-the-pace fourth against a similar group. Drawing better on Friday, he should be more involved.

One day later, on Saturday evening, we will begin our fun at Pompano Park with its sixth race, the second leg of the pick-4 — a division of the Florida Amateur Driving Club.

Sometimes amateur-driving races are fantastic; the public isn’t acquainted with the names and either cling to the most “obvious” horse or ignore the race altogether. Most of the time, however, amateur races turn out to be engaging and profitable events.

We’ll try for an upset with Skyway Pippen. Drawing inwards off a decent fifth-place effort against similar, his past miles demonstrate his greater proficiency from inside posts, such as when he last won against this class on Nov. 13 from post one. Making his third go around the track off two months rest, he should be as primed as possible for a big score.

Completing our weekend getaway is the 11th race from Northfield Park on Saturday — a  conditioned pacing event for fillies and mares. Positioned as the payoff leg of both the pick-4 and pick-3, this race appears to be a Northfield classic, which involves vulnerable favorites and chaotic goodness that leads to tote board explosion.

There are two possibilities of massive “kablooies.” The first is Shell Bell, who will start from post one. Last winning against this group four starts ago, she has since been faced with either poor posts or poor trips. Her best efforts are from inside posts with opportunistic circumstances and her 20-1 morning line should offer horizontal value given she slides to victory.

The other possibility is Brillo Camarillo, a 25-1 morning line choice starting from post seven. In her latest outing, she launched from off cover to finish second at 15-1, a move likely set up by a slow pace. Given the race develops similarly, she should be positioned in a similar spot and come flying home in the final quarter.

Bounce Backs

The “Bounce Back” list features contenders we touted in the past who did not win in their first outing, but are worth considering a second time.

Achilles Blue Chip – Saturday, Jan. 21 | Miami Valley, Race 4
Freedomformysoul – Saturday, Jan. 21 | Miami Valley, Race 4
Machs Beach Boy – Saturday, Jan. 21 | Yonkers, Race 1

Preview Review

As much as we advertised the hot harness action recently, we were fairly cold on the board in our features.

Bloomington, competing in a bottom-level trot at The Meadows, was shuffled out of the mix, but rallied late to finish fourth at 7-1.

Machs Beach Boy sat a rail trip, but lacked enough stamina to slide by his upper-classed rivals. He was fifth at 6-1.

We performed best in our feature at Miami Valley with our contenders Freedomformysoul ($8.40, $4.00) and Achilles Blue Chip (fourth at 4-1), as both managed to hit the board. Unfortunately, they were beaten out by long shot Angelo J Fra, who was ready to race in his first start in two months.

And here are the results of our contenders on last week’s Bounce Back list:

Born With Class (Lon, R8 1/13) – sixth, 55-1
Dontdoubtthelakers (CalX, R14 1/13) – $4.80, $3.20
Youllseemeupfront (FrD, R5 1/13) – seventh, 72-1
Bestnotlie Hanover (CalX, R11 1/14) – eighth, 9-2
Howmacs Pride (Chrtn, R4, 1/14) – fourth, 11-1
Lucan Hanover (YR, R10 1/14) – $2.80, $2.70

Ray Cotolo
Ray Cotolo is a seasoned handicapper and harness writer. At 17-years-old, he has worked in the harness racing industry for approaching a decade. Known for his creativity, humor, and eccentric personality, he works to promote harness racing while also entertaining. He is also known as the son of harness-racing guru Frank Cotolo and focuses primarily on the pari-mutuel side of the sport, invested in seeking value.

Ray hosts the weekly radio show “North American Harness Update,” which combines his talents to both entertain and aid the public in discovering overlay contenders from the highest-stake harness races to the cheapest overnights at Truro Raceway. He strives to put on the greatest show possible for all audiences along with his co-host, Mike Pribozie. It airs from 9-11pmEDT on SRN One.

Outside of racing, Ray is a playwright, writer, and, debatably, a comedian. He has performed and written sketch comedy while attending high school, as well as plays and varying side projects. He continually updates his Twitter account, @RayCotolo, with thoughts either pertaining to or not pertaining to harness racing.

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