02/14/2013 12:54PM

Meadowlands Selections and Yonkers Driving Battle

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It recently came to my attention that people miss me. It is always nice to feel wanted and apparently my Saturday selections from the Meadowlands are in higher demand than I thought. Quite a few people have approached me lately asking why I stopped making picks for Saturday and when I would start again.

First off, let me say that my Saturday replacement, Jay Bergman, is a first-rate handicapper and I would be glad to use his picks to accompany my handicapping. Secondly, my Saturday selections should return in late March or April.

As a one-time treat (for the few of you who consider my picks a special offering), I’ve looked over the Saturday card and have an abbreviated look at the races at the bottom of this post.

Yonkers Driving Colony

Now that Brian Sears has joined the Yonkers Raceway driving colony, I have heard plenty of talk as to how much better he is than reining Yonkers Kingpin George Brennan. People point to his 52 wins in 205 starts versus Brennan’s 40 wins in a higher 230 starts.

Certainly the early returns have Sears with a healthy lead and appearing to be the clear top dog. But let’s take into consideration that Brennan has accumulated his total with his main client, the Gilbert Garcia-Herrera stable, having started just a handful of horses through the first six weeks of action.

Most will agree that harness racing is a trainer’s game and you can’t win races without power. Look at driver Matt Kakaley. He is a wonderful young pilot who is actually second in the Yonkers standings with 42 wins in 188 starts, but do you think he would have quite as many wins without getting first call for the powerful Ron Burke barn?

Is Sears ultimately better than Brennan? That would be a good debate. While either is capable of winning from any spot on the track, each has unique skills which make them better in certain circumstances. Brennan can fire a horse up at a moment’s notice and Sears has a knack for working out good trips and having “something left” in the stretch.

One thing is certain, With a top three of Brennan, Sears and Kakaley, and a strong supporting cast of Jason Bartlett, Eric Goodell, Jordan Stratton, Cat Manzi, Brent Holland, Mark MacDonald and others, the group at Yonkers is one of the best the track has seen since the days of Walter Case Jr. and Luc Ouelette.

Six weeks is a decent sample size, but before we crown the Yonkers driving champion, perhaps we should let the race play out a bit more.

Saturday Meadowlands Selections

Race 1 – When I conclude that (3) STALLONE BLUE CHIP looks best on paper, it is time to move on. I haven’t been impressed with this 4-year-old and I’ll be passing on this race.

Race 2 – This is a weak-looking bunch with not much to sink my teeth into. (5) BUCKEYE IN CHARGE would seem to be in a good spot this week. (6) MR HALLOWELL and (7) PAN GRAD are both getting interesting barn changes.

Race 3 – I don’t see a lot of speed coming from the outside horses, which could leave (4) MR DENNIS sitting a nice trip either first or second. He really didn’t look great on the track last week. Perhaps that sharp 1 1/16 from the prior week got the best of him. Let’s look for him to perk back up this time in the easier division.

Race 4 – (4) ALEX BULLVILLE gets aggressive every once in a while and brings a strong effort on the front. He had no shot last time into a 56 4/5 half and this seems like the perfect spot for him to take charge.

Race 5 – Nothing jumps off the page.

Race 6 – Since returning from a layoff, (2) IDEAL MATTERS has been making steady progress and displaying more life with each outing. This B-1 race did not come up very tough and he is simply fastest of this bunch.

Race 7 – Another pass for me.

Race 8 – (2) OSCAR OSCAR ran into a “ready to roll” A J Corbelli last week. After Oscar posted a 26 and change opening quarter, he seemed to lack enough of a stretch kick in the lane. Now he moves inside from post 8 to 2 and should have much more in reserve for the final stages.

Race 9 – I don’t like anything per say, but (2) FREDDY DAY HANOVER looks like a decent option on the drop-down angle.

Race 10 – (3) COME ON RIDGE put in a valiant effort while challenging on the rim and basically tackles a similar group this time. If the trip is slightly better he should get a big piece.

Race 11 – Everyone will be all over (3) HOLDINGALLTHECARDS and (4) YO CHEYENNE ROCKY, but to me (5) SHAWS CREEK BUFF could be the play. This guy was flying in the stretch last week, his first start on Lasix. At the expected nice price, it is worth taking a shot that Lasix made all the difference and this guy is ready to be much faster.

Race 12 – You are on your own here.

Race 13 – (4) I DO HANOVER has shown versatility in rolling to consecutive victories and this field doesn’t come up very tough.

 

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