07/18/2012 8:04PM

Meadowlands Pace answered few questions


We all learned a lesson on Saturday after watching the Meadowlands Pace final. Too much time and thought can get you in trouble. How else do you explain Heston Blue Chip and Bolt The Duer not showing any signs of early speed?

Each driver must make decisions before and during a race. That is what separates the good from the great drivers – making the right moves at the right times. Almost any regular driver can guide a 3-5 shot to victory in an overnight race. It is the driver that gets the job done when the spotlight is on them that deserves the most respect.

To his credit, Mark MacDonald, driver of Bolt The Duer, admitted on Twitter that he may have made a mistake.

“If you got a good horse, let him race. I’m very disappointed in my drive,” said MacDonald. “My thinking was to follow Sweet Lou up in the second quarter. I really thought that t.t (Tim Tetrick) and (Sweet) Lou would be moving and tow me right up.”

It was a classy comment by MacDonald, who likely would have been on-the-board if he left in the Pace. He will get another chance in the Adios at the Meadows. He got into the weaker elimination and should be a lock to make the final on July 28.

So, what did we learn about the 3-year-old pacing crop? Nothing!

A Rocknroll Dance is the divisional leader right now but come October we could be crowning any of a dozen colts. The main certainty is that most of the Pace competitors should be fresh for the Adios and future engagements after an easy mile at the Meadowlands.

One thing that became obvious on Saturday at the Meadowlands was that Check Me Out is the real deal. The sophomore filly trotter was awesome while setting a world record in the Del Miller memorial. Owner/trainer/part-time driver Ray Schnittker would not commit to whether her next start would be the Hambletonian or the Oaks, but Ray is not known for being conservative. I would expect the filly to take on a group of boys that has yet to yield a standout performer.

Uncle Peter raced well but hardly set the world on fire in his Stanley Dancer elimination. Possess The Will did little to stamp himself as a favorite in the Hambletonian. Little Brown Fox looked great but it is hard to jump on his bandwagon with confidence after one race. Guccio raced greenly once again but charged home in the lane.

I count 108 horses eligible to the 2012 Hambletonian and 105 for the Hambo Oaks. Without a clear divisional leader, perhaps we will get as many as four Hambo divisions; a number we have not seen since 2001. The size of the Oaks entrants will likely depend on Schnittker’s decision with Check Me Out. If she enters the Oaks, you have to believe that will keep a few fillies on the bench for the marquee event.

Elimination races work best (at least from a betting standpoint) when only two or three horses from each elimination make the final. Hopefully that will be the case this year.

This week in stakes races

In addition to the widely covered main events this weekend - Adios at The Meadows and Maple Leaf Trot/Roses Are Red at Mohawk- there are a few other important stakes events occurring in the wonderful world of standardbred racing.

Yonkers Raceway hosts the $119,000 Sheppard final for 2-year-old colts and geldings on Saturday. Rocnrolwilneverdie is the 8-5 morning line choice despite only finishing third in last week’s elimination. The undefeated Scalped (2 for 2), Ok Fame and Doctor Butch are all coming off elimination wins last week.

The Sheppard is race 6 on Yonkers’ 13-race program. First post is 7:10pm.

Sophomore trotters of both sexes will do battle at Tioga Downs on Saturday in the Tomkins-Geers series. Hambletonian hopeful Coraggioso, who is owned by NYRA track announcer Tom Durkin and Joseph Spadaro, is the clear favorite in the first split. The second division for the boys is led by Yonkers Trot winner Archangel.

Post time at Tioga is 6:50pm on Saturday and 1:30pm on Sunday when the sophomore pacers will be in action.

Northfield Park hosts the $111,500 Battle of Lake Erie for older pacers on Saturday. Foiled Again, a career winner of nearly $3.9 million will look to capture the Battle for the third time (2009,2011). He starts from post five with regular driver Yannick Gingras, who will also drive A Rocknroll Dance in the Adios at The Meadows three hours earlier.

The Battle of Lake Erie is race 11 on the Northfield card, which will feature a special $10,000 guaranteed pick four pool. Post time is 7:00pm.

Past Performances

Starting with Friday, DRF Harness Eye past performances will be available in our online store every racing day for The Meadows and Saratoga. Previously those tracks were only available in that format occasionally.


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