Log In

Thursday Thoughts: Will Harness Rivalries Take Shape This Weekend?

by Al Cimaglia

August 9, 2018

We are approaching another weekend of top caliber harness racing action. An advantage harness racing has over thoroughbred racing is the stars can knock heads and battle throughout the summer and into the fall. Because the same horses can face each other a number of times rivalries do develop. It would make sense for harness racing to do a better job of promoting star performers meeting on a regular basis.

On Friday night Hoosier Park is set to conduct a 14-race card including one of the top events for older pacers. The feature will roll in Race 11, the 25th running of the Dan Patch Stakes which will have a $325,000 purse.

Many believe Lazarus N is the best New Zealand bred ever. Lazarus has only finished off the board twice and boasts a stunning record capturing 35 of 45 starts at different distances. The "Wonder from Down Under" has been installed as the 6/5 morning line choice in his U.S. debut. If Lazarus isn't fully acclimated to North America he might be hard pressed from Post 9 to make his debut a winning one. Second choice in the morning line is McWicked (2-1) who leaves from Post 6 and there are a handful of others who will also be gunning for top honors.

The field for the Dan Patch is listed below in post position order with trainers, drivers, and morning line odds.

1. Dealt A Winner-Mark Silva-Brett Miller-8/1
2. Beckhams Z Tam-Jamie Macomber-Ricky Macomber Jr.-20/1
3. Split The House-Chris Oakes-Trace Tetrick-20/1
4. Rockin Ron-Ron Burke-Trace Tetrick-10/1
5. Bit Of A Legend N-Peter Tritton-Jordan Stratton-12/1
6. McWicked-Casie Coleman-Brian Sears-2/1
7. All Bets Off-Ron Burke-Matt Kakaley-10/1
8. New Talent-Jeff Cullipher-Sam Widger-20/1
9. Lazarus N-Jimmy Takter-Yannick Gingras-6/5

On Saturday, Northfield Park will host the prestigious Carl Milstein Memorial, which is the richest invitational for pacers. A field of eight 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers will battle in Race 11 for a share of a $400,000 purse.

This sets up as a very interesting race as only the 2-1 morning line favorite, Lather Up has never raced at Northfield Park. Lather Up has won eight of nine starts this year and his main competitor is likely to be Jimmy Freight. The Canadian invader is the 3-1 second favorite and comes off a sparkling 1:48.3 career best mile at Mohawk Park. The Milstein won't only be a match race between the morning line chalks. The winner of the $400,000 Adios, Dorsoduro Hanover and Springsteen who captured the $500,000 Max Hempt, should also pose a strong threat for top honors.

The field for the Milstein Memorial is listed below in post position order with trainers, drivers, and morning line odds.

1. Jimmy Freight-Andrew Harris-Louis Roy-3/1
2. Lather Up-Clyde Francis-Montrell Teague-2/1
3. Thinkbig Dreambig-Jimmy Takter-Jordan Stratton-12/1
4. Springsteen-Rene Allard-David Miller-6/1
5. Dorsoduro Hanover-Ron Burke-Matt Kakely-4/1
6. Minnie Vinnie-Curtiss Carey-Aaron Merriman-15/1
7. Slick Tony-George Leager-Russell Foster-20/1
8. Always A Prince-Tyler George-Trace Tetrick-10/1

The star-studded weekend includes action on Sunday afternoon at Tioga Downs featuring the Crawford Farms Open Trot for older trotters and the Joie De Vie Trot for older trotting mares. The Crawford Farms Open Trot is carded as Race 9 and will feature a field of ten trying to snag a share of the $186,000 purse. The likely post time favorite is the Ron Burke trainee Will Take Charge with Tim Tetrick who will leave from Post 3.

The $176,000 estimated Joie De Vie Trot could be billed as a match race between 2017 Horse of the Year Hannelore Hanover and the 3-year-old Filly Trotter of 2017 Ariana G. The two champions have never faced each other. In Race 8, Hannelore Hanover will leave from Post 1 and Ariana G will start from Post 4. Hannelore Hanover has won six of seven starts this year while Ariana G has won three of six. Each trotter has a seasonal mark of 1:50.2 and both are usually driven by Yannick Gingras. On Sunday, Gingras will stick with Ron Burke and Hannelore Hannover.

Enjoy the weekend of racing and take notice for the beginning of potential rivalries.

Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia.