09/11/2014 11:30PM

Giwner: Weekend stakes thoughts

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One of my favorite cards of the year is New York Night of Champions at Yonkers Raceway. While it is typically littered with heavy favorites, there can often be more value than initially meets the eye.

In 2013 there were seven odds-on horses in the eight $225,000 finals and only one of them came through for the chalk bettors. So although many of the favorites seem like locks, let’s not crown them as champions of the Empire State prematurely.

Also, consider that bettors love the number 1. They see horses who lead at every call because they may have faced some softer competition in preliminary legs and they assume these horses are unbeatable. When it comes to these Sire Stakes finals, most connections are aiming for this night the entire year. While you want to win every race, this is the prize they have been eyeing. That leads to a few horses stepping up with peak efforts on the big night.

Yonkers Raceway   

Then of course you have the driver changes. Put $225K on the table and all of a sudden the trainer hops out of the bike for a top pilot. These horses often get overbet and allow for juicy overlays on very good contenders.

Some of the interesting horses I’m going to keep an eye on come Saturday searching for overlays are Barn Doll (race 2), It Was Fascination (race 3), My Little Delight (race 4), Southwind Masimo (race 8), and Flyhawk El Durado (race 9).

You can watch the action LIVE and see or read my analysis on our event page: http://www.drf.com/events/harness-nyss-night-champions-yonkers

Yonkers isn’t the only track hosting a championship night for statebreds. Balmoral Park is offering eight races with purses of $100K-plus for Illinois breds ranging from ages 2 to 9. They even have a $50,000 guaranteed pick four commencing in race 11.

Even with the above action certainly warranting attention, Mohawk Racetrack is where the best of the best, both equine and human, will be setting up shop on Saturday night. Four stakes worth over $300,000 each are on the card with no match-up more anticipated than Hambletonian winner Trixton facing off against Father Patrick.

For all those Trixton fans out there, let me make it clear that Father Patrick will win on Saturday unless something extraordinary occurs. I believe Trixton is a fine horse with plenty of ability. I believe he will even improve as he continues to develop. But everything I’ve seen from Father Patrick tells me he is the better horse. If by some chance Trxiton goes off the favorite, my recommendation is to bet with both hands on Father Patrick.

One final weekend stakes note . . . on Monday Harrington Raceway hosts the $220,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial for older pacers. It is certainly no fault of trainer Ron Burke, but having a race with five uncoupled Burke horses competing against two uncoupled Linda Toscano-trained horses and one lonely Nick Surick trainee hardly seems like exciting racing.