Sires Stakes, Cups and More!

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Last time we chatted about harness racing, we tackled the Dexter Cup eliminations at Freehold Raceway and reminisced about our beloved George Morton Levy and Blue Chip Matchmaker Series.

Our travels this week will take us to Meadowlands, The Meadows, Mohawk Racetrack and to Flamboro Downs.

And for all analyses regarding stakes races for three-year-old colt or filly trotters, such as the New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) on Friday at Meadowlands or the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes (PASS) on Saturday at The Meadows, be sure to check out Frank Cotolo’s Hambletonian Trail.

Jersey Boys and the lesser-known spinoff, Jersey Girls

Colt and filly pacers compete at the Meadowlands on Friday, May 19 in the opening round of the NJSS. The colts go first, headlined by the two-year-old NJSS champion Every Way Out, who is also the horse to beat. But, admittedly, we are not ones to usually forfeit to the favorite (unless the exactas are paying really well) and this race seems no different.

Indian River Ace is an intriguing contender, entering this event to make his pari-mutuel debut and off of only a single qualifier at Rosecroft Raceway. Albeit, his qualifier wasn’t awful, but there is something alluring about his lack of experience that could signify indecipherable potential. He’ll be a good price here, no doubt, but could also make for a great bottom end of an exacta.

The filly split of the NJSS is an amateur hour, with four of the 11 competing trying to break their maidens. Ability in this field is fairly scarce, and it is just screaming upset, loud enough to break through the duct tape, too.

King-of-the-long-shots-who-also-struggles-to-win-with-him-on-occasion Steve Smith steers Misqued from the second tier. Misqued was a prominent competitor on the sires stakes circuit at Freehold last year, winning a prelim and the final of the series. Her qualifiers leading up to this race may not appear appealing, but her performance in those should easily make her a factor in this race.

S.B.O.A. Constrictors  

The $132,130 Ontario S.B.O.A. final for three-year-old filly pacers at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday, May 20 is one of three stakes events going that evening (we’ll be getting to the other two in a bit).

Trainer Casie Coleman sends out the two likely favorites, Fade and Windy Sport, with most of the favoritism leaning towards Windy Sport after a 1:51.3 romp in her elimination — now that’s a fast mile, faster than most of these fillies may be able to go, even in their dreams.

But, as a writer, I make dreams reality, and, perhaps, Soiree Seelster can transcend imagination and achieve greatness. By all that poetic jargon, I’m saying she’s a strong value contender.

Making her second start of the year, she strolled around the Mohawk oval in her debut in the elimination last week, being too far out of the race to try to catch breakaway  leader Windy Sport. Perhaps, from the rail, she will be positioned closer to the pace, and then be able to provide a proper challenge to the decisive favorite.

Paul Simon and Art “Rooney” Garfunkel go to Lismore

Yonkers Raceway hosts the other stakes events going on Saturday evening — an elimination for the Art Rooney Memorial and two eliminations for the Lismore Pace.

First we are faced with an elim for the Lismore, featuring a headlining act of the sophomore filly pacing division Agent Q. But, this potential favorite will start from the eight-hole. There’s got to be somewhere else to go.

And there is!

Linda Toscano sends Planet Rock, a New York Sires Stakes prospect from last year who enters off two good qualifiers at the Meadowlands. She has the speed to place herself into the mix from post six, which will be necessary considering the alternative would be trying to close on a half-mile track, and we all know how that’d turn out… bad.

The second elimination for the Lismore pins probable favorites World Apart and Ain’t Three Ok, while five other fillies we’ve never heard of attempt to get their name out into the world. One of these unknown gals is Caviart Cherie, who should be great value in the “World-Ain’t Ok” matchup. Being able to place herself close to the pace from her inside post, she might be able to organize the great stalking-pocket trip that many a horse and some a man have rode to victory.

Finally, the Art Rooney elimination lines up nine colt pacers. As the great Fraser Downs announcer Rick Uppal used to say: “eight on the gate, one a little late.”

Downbytheseaside is the tardy one in this field. The world champion will try to layout a trip from the second-tier that puts him in the top eight, because only the ninth-place finisher will be eliminated. Then, next week, only seven pacers will receive and idol, and so on.

I kid. The Rooney is not a survivor series — just the thought of it brings back flashbacks of the dark Levy times (although at least we made some money).

But this race features the New York phenom Miso Fast, returning to his home state after two sharp efforts at Pocono Downs against conditioned pacers. As long as the public flocks towards Downbytheseaside as expected, Miso Fast should be sent off a great price.

Cup of the Confederates… Not Those Confederates

Flamboro Downs marquee event, the $176,000 Confederation Cup, is set to close out their program Sunday, May 21. Formerly a heat-style event for three-year-old pacers, the stake was revived a few years ago as a race for four-year-olds, presumably as part of the movement to encourage horses to race into their four-year-old season.

Current superstar Sintra draws badly once again. Having to overcome post eight, this race is instantly way more interesting, though he’ll probably find a way to win from there anyway.

Yet, we are never ones to walk away from value — no, siree. To the inside, Roll Away Joe could work out the necessary trip to upset Sintra. Likely, Sintra will be making his rally from off the pace, meaning, if someone could get a head start sprinting to the wire, he/she may be able to hold off the favorite — such is the theory, anyway.

Roll Away Joe seems like he’ll organize a rail trip that could manifest either into a passing-lane sweep or a final-turn-pull- after-the-leader. The question will not be his price, but whether or not he can best the favorites Sintra and Western Fame.

On the undercard of the Confederation Cup are three divisions of the Ontario Sires Stakes (ONSS) Gold Division. Unfortunately, I have withdrawn almost all my words from my vocabulary bank, so, for sake of brevity, below are contenders to watch in the ONSS divisions:

Race 1 | #2 Rosberg
Race 2 | #3 Dream Massive
Race 5 | #5 Majestic Marvel

Preview Review

Geeze, what races did we even talk about last time?

On my records, we touted two horses in a three-year-old filly open at Freehold Raceway on Saturday, April 29, which was a prep for the Lady Suffolk. Patty La Paige finished third, paying $4.20. Royal Pinot was off the board, or may have not even finished. We will never know.

Texican was fourth in his Dexter Cup elimination at 13-1 and Muscle High broke in his Dexter Cup elimination.

That’s all I’ve got.

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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