Molson Pace and Harrah’s Philadelphia Invites Highlight Harness Weekend

raycotoloheaderHere we are again ready to start the next lap of this stakes-season merry-go-round.

We are coming off of a particularly good week with last week, which could only make our performance this week appear standard, sub-par, or above par, which at that point would just be a bogey.

Sure, we may take some unnecessary strokes in races featuring particularly strong favorites, but it’s when we can topple these grand creatures where our money is made. We are Davids, constantly fighting Goliaths in this ovular Jerusalem just to watch more storming in from the highlands of Palestine.

Grab your sword, your shield, and maybe a caffeinated beverage as we guide our ship through the incoming monsoon of stakes action spanning across the weekend and across the eastern seaboard… and maybe a helmet if this merry-go-round goes merry-go-down.

And for analyses of this week’s sophomore trotting action, including three divisions of the $72,000 Currier & Ives at The Meadows on Friday, May 26 and the second preliminary of the New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) at the Meadowlands, be sure to check out Frank Cotolo’s Hambletonian Trail.

The Best Part of Waking Up is Molson in Your Cup 

The marquee event on the racing calendar at Western Fair Raceway, the $150,000 Molson Pace, is scheduled to close out the racing season on Friday, May 26.

Favored heading into the Invitational event are Bit Of A Legend N, off sharp performances in the George Morton Levy Series at Yonkers, Clear Vision, the 11-year-old also entering off good efforts in the Levy, and Fool Me Once, the speedy technically-not-native son for Richard Moreau entering off of three-straight victories at Mohawk.

Richard Moreau also sends Evenin Of Pleasure, who upset this race last year off a perfect trip. Given a good draw again, he could position himself to work out a similar trip, and his form appears much stronger than it did heading into this event last season. We hope that the majority of play will be concentrated to the aforementioned favored trio so that we can potentially snag another great price from this capitalistic wonder. 

Jersey Boys (and Gals) II: ‘The Jerseying’ 

Colt and filly pacers will each compete in one division for the second round of the NJSS on Friday, May 26 at the Meadowlands.

The colts come first and are headlined by Every Way Out off a 1:52.1 win in the first round as the 1-9 favorite. With no new shooters looking to spoil his potential sweep of the Series, he will be a venerable favorite.

We could try his stable mate, Prairie Mcdreamy, to both potentially upset the freshman champ and maybe make the exotics worthy enough of a try. Likely, he’ll be sent off the third choice, which, in a field with a probable 1-9 favorite and a likely 6-1 second choice with Deo Galileo, could mean possibly 13-1 or higher odds. For a win bet, that may be worth a shot, however do proceed with caution that he will probably lose, but he could also win!

Colorful Jasmine highlights the NJSS split for the gals off a 1:54.1 win as the 1-5 favorite and will likely be an overwhelming favorite once more. For us to get any value out of this race, we will have to beat this favorite, and Misqued, once again, might be the gal to do it. Finishing third from the second tier in her seasonal debut, she should be more involved with a starting spot on the gate, and should also be sharper in her second start of the year.

Mickey “Art” Rooney & Julianne “Lis” Moore Finals

Yonkers Raceway hosts the finals for the $140,770 Lismore Pace and the $300,000 Art Rooney Pace on Saturday, May 27, both of which have nothing to do with Mickey Rooney or Julianne Moore aside from “clever” wordplay.

Fresh off my list of stakes horses to watch this season, Agent Q enters the Lismore Pace final as the likely favorite against seven other competitors. As glowing of a review as I gave her in that article, we are going to try and beat her, because what’s the fun in cashing easily?

Confronted with a favorite the likes of Agent Q, we are reliant on whoever we contend to challenge her to get a perfect trip, or else all that was likely to happen will happen. From the rail, Warrawee Sunshine might have the right conditions to shine. Closing ground to finish third in the weaker of the two eliminations, she only needs to place herself into the pace in order to be a contender, and not do anything risky like going first over or outside for that matter. The prime spot for her will be that illustrious pocket, so that she can be propelled to victory through the passing lane. If she races well off a different trip, even better, but her form doesn’t really express that to be a promising option.

We face another Goliath in the Art Rooney final, this time taking the form of Downbytheseaside, who is entering off a 1:52.2 win in the elimination as the 3-5 favorite. Can we somehow deal the fatal blow to this likely winner and make a ton of money in the process?

Possibly.

Miso Fast, another horse on my list of stakes contenders to watch, is the most probable upsetter in the race. Coming from off the pace to finish second to Downbytheseaside, he will likely need to be more forwardly placed before Downbytheseaside stretches away from his competition. He’ll need to be in striking position around the final turn in order to be any sort of threat.

From post eight, Stealth Bomber is an interesting contender who could have the necessary early speed to place himself into the race at a price. If he is able to obtain this striking spot that Miso Fast might not be able to secure, than he has just as good of a chance to strike at the favorite in the stretch at a much better price. That is, of course, assuming he launches off the wings for the front.

It’s Always Sunny in Harrah’s Philadelphia

Sunday, May 28 at Harrah’s Philadelphia features three $150,000 Invitational events for the aged divisions, including the Maxie Lee Memorial for older trotters, the Betsy Ross for mare pacers, and the inaugural running of the Ben Stafford Jr. Memorial for the older pacers.

The trotters start with the Maxie Lee Memorial, which attracts and establishes a rematch between current divisional leaders Jl Cruze and Crazy Wow. Also gathered here are Tuonoblu Rex, a foreign-trotting star finding his bearings in US competition, Odds On Amethyst, who lost his first race in nearly six starts against the Preferred ranks at Mohawk and Woodbine, and Taco Tuesday, who is every cubicle employees favorite holiday.

Yet, despite all those names, our shot at value here might be with the lone mare entered in the field Charmed Life. Besting Hannelore Hanover when she did not appear her best in the Miami Valley Distaff, she races her best when sweeping into contention, and the possibility of a strong pace because of Jl Cruze and Crazy Wow could set up the prime trip for Charmed Life to strike.

Mare-pacing star Lady Shadow headlines the Betsy Ross Invitational as she goes for her 30th win in 57 starts. Joining her is the sophomore pacing star from last year Pure Country, who was defeated as the favorite in the Open at Yonkers last week.

We will take a chance with Mackenzie A against the two top mares, as she managed to shine in the Blue Chip Matchmaker final off a perfect trip that could possibly fall into her court once more. If given any sort of covered trip, she will be lunging into the competition late. The gamble is whether or not that rally will be enough to defeat Lady Shadow and possibly Pure Country.

The Ben Stafford Jr. Memorial appears to be the best betting race, even though we will be trying to beat a talented potential favorite in Christen Me N as he makes his third pari-mutual start stateside.

If blindsided by the chaos factor we so often bank upon, Rock N’ Roll World seems like he could capitalize off a rail trip that appears likely. Winning in similar fashion in an Invitational at Hoosier Park two weeks ago, Rock N’ Roll World will likely be his best if he can secure the pocket ride, which is definitely feasible from post 2 and the only other potential speed to challenge him being Somewhere In L A, and maybe Jins Shark.

Preview Review

We went through a lot last week so let’s make this quick.

Indian River Ace (fifth, 46-1) was not ready to compete with the likes of Every Way Out, as he was extended just to finish fifth in the NJSS colt-pacing split.

Misqued (third, $4.20) had too much traffic to overcome in the NJSS filly-pacing split, leaving 1-5 favorite Colorful Jasmine to wire the field.

After breaking at the start of the $132,130 Ontario S.B.O.A. three-year-old filly pace, Soiree Seelster (second, $6.50; $2.60) came a neck shy of closing into a victory.

Agent Q was much the best in the first of two eliminations for the Lismore Pace. Our contender, Planet Rock (fifth, 7-1), had too much ground to make up into the final turn.

Caviart Cherie (fourth, 22-1) was flat off a perfect trip in the second elimination as Big City Betty took the field wire to wire.

Sent off the 3-5 favorite, Downbytheseaside was able to hold off a late bid from Miso Fast (second, $3.50), resulting in an exacta that returned a whopping $7.70.

Western Fame went wire to wire in the Confederation Cup as the favorite. Roll Away Joe (ninth, 21-1) ended up parking for a majority of the mile as he supplied cover to his stable mate and eventual second-place finisher Check Six.

In the Ontario Sires Stakes on the Confederation Cup undercard, we touted the winners of the first two divisions: Rosberg ($8.70; $3.20; $2.30) and Dream Massive ($6.20; $3.40; $2.50). We did not have a chance to extend our perfect batting average into the third division, since our contender Majestic Marvel scratched.

And those are the results as they stand.

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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