07/20/2012 9:44PM

Check Me Out shuns Hambletonian; Meadowlands $53k PK6 carryover


Everyone has mixed feelings from time to time. Those are the emotions I’m feeling after hearing the news that the spectacular filly Check Me Out will skip the Hambletonian and a date with the boys to instead tackle her peers in the Hambo Oaks.

At first I agreed with co-owner/trainer Ray Schnittker’s decision. Honestly, if I owned the filly and could be 3-5 to win half of $750,000 in the Oaks or 4-1 to vie for $1,500,000 in the Hambletonian, the decision would be quite easy. I’m certainly not in a position to give away money.

That said, if I had millions in the bank, I wouldn’t think twice about rolling the dice and going for the biggest prize in harness racing.

Schnittker’s reasoning of not wanting to extend the filly and force her into a tough situation is acceptable and I have no problem with it. BUT, and we are talking a big but, is there a point where the best interests of the sport override the logical reasoning of a horseman?

While harness racing is unlikely to garner a large national audience for the Hambletonian, Check Me Out would certainly provide the sport with the best opportunity to capture the interest of “Joe Public” and gain us some coverage in the mainstream media.

It is interesting that Schnittker, who is known for his matter-of-fact demeanor and bold displays of speed on the track, would in five days go from “likely going to the Hambletonian” to settling for the Hambo Oaks. This is the same man who threw in an off-the-cuff remark criticizing writers for their past decisions to bypass his horse for certain year-end honors. Well, Ray, I have some news for you, a win in the Hambo would have locked you into the top spot for Horse of the Year. Now you will have to win most of your races with Check Me Out and hope things shake your way.

As a former owner, I understand the decision. As a writer and fan, I’m disappointed. Schnittker has a few days to change his mind. Now that would really make it interesting!

Amateurs shows us how it’s fun

With all due respect to the Meadowlands Pace, the best race I viewed at the Meadowlands in the past week involved amateur drivers.  It wasn’t the skill in which the drivers piloted their horses which stood out. It was the reckless abandon in which each driver steered their charges that made the race so interesting.

Horses were constantly on the move and the field fanned out some seven wide at the head of the lane. Simply put, it made for a visually pleasing spectacle.  It was fun to watch!

I’m not saying the professionals should “go crazy” on the track and I understand that swinging 6-wide into the stretch will cost you a lot of ground, but wouldn’t it be nice to see more action in each race? If the Meadowlands Pace proved nothing else, drivers are doing too much thinking and not relying on their instincts.

Single-file racing is boring. Let’s spice it up and give the public something to watch.

Pick Six Mania

There will be a $53,049 pick six carryover on Saturday night at the Meadowlands. That carryover should produce a final pool of at least $100,000. To make it even more interesting, most of the top drivers are out of town competing in stakes races. So, Andy Miller, Corey Callahan, and Mike Lachance are your top pilots for Saturday.

Let’s look at the races and see what makes sense.

Race 4

There are no easy answers in this race. The best horse on current performance is (6) MARKET SHARE. To me, you either key him and roll the dice or you go five deep and include (1) FROM ABOVE, (2) GYM TAN LAUNDRY, (5) RICCOLO, and (7) WEINGARTNER.

Race 5

I only see three worth including in this race. (2) INTHEBLINKOFANEYE probably would have won last week with a smoother journey in the stretch. He couldn’t be any sharper. The other two to use are class droppers (3) FITZS Z TAM and (6) MCCLELLAND.

Race 6

Here is another race where I think you can get bold and roll the dice or you can use a bunch of horses and bring a full wallet. Although I was firmly against (5) VERDAD in his last Big M appearance, he really showed me something that night. After a failed attempt versus older foes he drops back in against his peers tonight and should be tough again.

Who else can we use in here? (1) BULLET BOB has speed from the rail and should sit close to the action. (2) SHAKERATTLENROCK drops out of the Meadowlands Pace. (6) SOCIAL NETWORK is on my list but will not be included on many tickets. I saw some life from him last week and he does have talent. (7) COLD HEARTED SHARK has won three straight. Is he this good?

Race 7

Another tough race in this pick six. (7) WON THE WEST drops way, way down in class but hasn’t been able to get out of his own way against the best in the country. Even if he brings his “A” game, I don’t believe he will blow this field away. (3) BIG BAM RAY won here at a similar level two starts back. You may not recognize the driver Denis St Pierre, but he is more than capable. (9) PANESTHETIC has a ton of speed and figures to be cutting the mile. He’s a tough call in this field and might be one I would pass on if your bankroll can’t handle him. (1) OSCAR OSCAR was the sharpest horse on the grounds for a while but seems to have tailed off a bit. I’ll be beating against.

Race 8

(2) ARTS IDEAL HANOVER is probably the most talented horse in this race but he has made a break in all his recent pari-mutuel races. Most will see it as a negative, but I like trainer Takter in the bike tonight because he knows him best. And let’s face it, this isn’t the “A” driving colony tonight. (8) MAJOR BOMBAY is the one to beat on paper, but keying a horse which was clearly racing greenly last week is always risky. (7) ROCKWEILLER has early speed and is consistent. I would strongly consider using him on most tickets.

Race 9

I see four that I would consider in here, though my tickets will probably only include two horses. (5) HIGH NOON gets another shot for me at this reduced level. If there is a field he can wake up against, it is this one. (2) BLUE CLAW rounds out my top duo. He is far from one of my favorite horses, but did race much better last week.

The others I would contemplate using are (4) HURRIKANE ANTHONY and (6) WINDFALL BLUE CHIP. Both have good early speed and are capable of stealing the race if left alone.

Below are my suggested $1 tickets. There are four plays. The first will be a bankroll-buster all-in type play. The next two will be moderately priced tickets keying my favorite singles. The final ticket will be a budget play.

Go for it:

1,2,5,6 – 2,3,6 – 1,2,5,6,7 – 3,7,9 – 2,7,8 – 2,5 = $1,080

Middle of the road:

6 – 2,3,6 – 1,2,5,6 – 3,7,9 – 2,7,8 – 2,5 = $216

1,2,5,6,7 – 2,3,6 – 5 – 3,7 – 2,7,8 – 2,5 = $180

And my budget play:

1,2,5,6 – 2,3 – 5 – 3,7 – 2,8 – 2,5 = $64

Good luck if you take a shot.


Watch the Saturday Meadowlands card