02/13/2015 12:32AM

Giwner: 2015 Stakes Preview

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Nikki Sherman
Mission Brief figures to play a prominent role on the stakes scene in 2015.

The harness racing stakes calendar for 2015 is out. Typically this would be the point where I complain about the numerous race conflicts and scold the race secretaries on a poor job. Surprisingly, with the exception of September 5, the schedule flows smoothly and should allow horses’ ample opportunity to grab the spotlight (and the purse money).

I compiled a list of top stakes for my own use (see attached PDF at the bottom). Not every sire stakes leg or minor stake is outlined, but for most racing fans it should give you a strong idea of when your favorite events will take place.

For those who like things less bulky, I’ve slimmed down the list into two categories--“Must-See Racing” and “Save The Date”. Basically I’m profiling dates where tracks are expected to offer multiple big-money stakes. Let’s get started . . . in date order.

Must-See Harness Racing for 2015

June 20—Mohawk Racetrack

The first true battleground for 3-year-old pacing colts occurs in the $1,000,000 North America Cup on a night that features five other top stakes events at one of the better venues for watching a race. There is a reasonable chance to think we’ll see Horse of the Year JK She’salady racing in the Fan Hanover.

July 4—Pocono Downs

You can celebrate the birth of America by checking out the best 3-year-old colts on both gaits in a pair of $500,000 races (Earl Beal Memorial Trot & Max Hempt Pace). The card also features the half-million dollar Ben Franklin for older pacers, an almost definite stop for the now 11-year-old Foiled Again.

July 18 – Meadowlands

This Saturday is Meadowlands Pace night, but it is much more than that. The best older pacers will compete in the Haughton Memorial, the best 3-year-old trotters battle in the Stanley Dancer, and maybe we’ll even see Father Patrick compete in the Hambletonian Maturity. Seven major stakes will provide an all-star lineup.

August 8 – Meadowlands

Hambletonian Day! The 2015 edition of the trotting classic could be a showcase for freshman filly standout Mission Brief. Can she become the first filly to win the Hambo since the late Continentalvictory in 1996? With 10 stakes highlighting nearly every division in the sport, we all know this is the one day of racing you can’t miss.

August 22 – Pocono Downs

Super Stakes Saturday returns after a one year hiatus and features over $2 million in purses. You’ll get to witness the best 3-year-old pacing and trotting colts in the Battle of the Brandywine and Colonial, respectively.

[DRF HARNESS: Get Free Harness PPs when you wager with DRF Bets]

September 5 – Mohawk/Yonkers

This is the busiest date on the calendar. Mohawk hosts the Metro Pace for 2-year-old future stars and the Canadian Pacing Derby for the best of the aged ranks. Yonkers presents a pair of Triple Crown events in the Messenger Pace and Yonkers Trot. And if that isn’t enough, Pennsylvania’s best sophomores will race at Pocono in the Sire Stakes finals.

September 19 – Mohawk

Five stakes races are on tap spotlighting the best trotters in harness racing. You will most likely get to see International trotting superstar Sebastian K and probably the 2015 Hambletonian winner.

September 23/24 – Delaware County Fair

The Jugette goes behind the gate on Wednesday and the Little Brown Jug on Thursday. The Jug will be the third leg of the Pacing Triple Crown in 2015 and the entire series takes place over six-plus weeks. If you can make it to Ohio, the trip is worth it.

October 10 – Red Mile

Eight stake races are led by the Tattersalls for the best 3-year-old pacers and the historic Kentucky Futurity for the elite sophomores on the trot. Typically these races were split up over a Saturday/Sunday format, but we get to see them all on Saturday this year.

October 24 – Woodbine

It all comes down to the Breeders Crown. Twelve races on one night to separate the contenders from the pretenders in each division. You’ll likely see every equine star on this night in Canada.

October 30 – Hoosier Park

This Indiana track has been making great strides on the stakes scene in recent years and offering five stakes races placing the limelight on top pacing horses and colts should make for a nice evening.

November 7 – Balmoral Park

The American-National series annually hosts some of the top pacers and trotters in the game. Eight stakes races will give those in contention for year-end honors a chance to step to the head of the class.

[DRF HARNESS: Follow us on Twitter for the latest harness news!]

November 20/21 – Meadowlands

The last major showcase of the year takes place in New Jersey and there will be no shortage of star power. Friday’s card will include a pair of TVG finals for older mares and the Goldsmith Maid/Three Diamonds for 2-year-old fillies on both gaits. Saturday the action hits a zenith with the male TVG finals along with four other top-notch stakes.

Save The Date in 2015

April 25 – Yonkers – The Levy and Blue Chip Matchmaker kick off 2015. Foiled Again!

May 5 – Miami Valley – A pair of $100k races for older mares on both gaits.

May 24 – Harrah’s Philadelphia – Three $150k races for older horses.

May 30 – Yonkers – Top 3-year-old pacers battle in the Art Rooney Final.

May 31 – Solvalla – The $1,000,000 Elitloppet will go to post Sunday morning in Sweden.

July 25 – Saratoga/Meadowlands - $260k Geritty for aged pacers at Saratoga and NJ Classic at Meadowlands.

July 26 – Vernon – Top 3-year-old trotters compete in the Zweig Memorial.

August 1 – The Meadows – The Adios Pace should go for a healthy $400k in 2015.

August 14 – Northfield/Hoosier - $400k Milstein at Northfield and the $300k Dan Patch at Hoosier.

August 21 – Vernon – The best older mares and top aged trotters will be on hand.

August 23 – Tioga – You’ll see New York’s best 3-year-old pacers and the top older pacers in the country.

September 12 – Scioto – $200k Jim Ewart and $150k Chip Noble + Ohio Sire Stakes finals.

September 26 – Hoosier – A handful of stakes races including the $225k Centaur Trot.

October 2 – Dayton – Pacing and Trotting Derby worth $150k each.

November 5/12 – Dover – Four Matron finals each night. 2YOs on the 5th and 3YOs on the 12th.

It may be cold outside in most U.S. locations, but spring and the best standardbreds in North America will be on the scene before you know it.

 

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Select Major races 2015_online.pdf66.7 KB