03/23/2017 4:41PM

Giwner: Action-packed stakes schedule on the horizon for 2017

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Downbytheseaside is eligible to the Art Rooney Pace at Yonkers on May 27.

What is four pages long and filled with excitement?

The 2017 Harness Racing stakes calendar, of course.

With the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy series kicking off this weekend, stakes season has finally begun.

Here is our “unofficial” list of all the Grand Circuit-caliber races and major Sire Stakes Finals. We’ve highlighted in yellow all races which offer purses of at least $400,000 so you know which dates to circle on your calendar.

While it has been widely publicized that Wiggle It Jiggleit will return to the races in June, let’s look at some potential meeting dates for other stars from 2016.

Older trotting mare Hannelore Hanover has the potential to be one of the biggest stars of the year. If she nominates, her first opportunity on the schedule comes in the Sam Chip Noble III Memorial at Miami Valley or the A.J. Cutler Memorial versus the boys at The Meadowlands. Both races are on the weekend of May 6. If she skips that engagement, the Maxie Lee at Harrah’s Philadelphia on May 28 would seem like a good spot.

While the Chip Noble is out of the question since it is a mares-only event, the Cutler and Maxie Lee are both options for top older trotters Resolve and Obrigado, who finished one-two in the voting in their division last year.

One match-up everyone will be waiting for is another showdown between 2016 rookie standouts Huntsville and Downbytheseaside.  The latter is eligible to the $300,000 Art Rooney at Yonkers on May 27, but the first main event where both are expected to hook up is the C$1,000,000 North America Cup at Mohawk on June 17.

Walner, the top 2-year-old trotter from 2016, likely won’t be seen in a major race until the Earl Beal memorial at The Downs at Pocono on July 1. He is not eligible to the Goodtimes at Mohawk two weeks prior.

The top 3-year-old pacing fillies for this year, now both trained by Jimmy Takter, Idyllic Beach and Someomensomewhere, should meet up for the first time in the Fan Hanover at Mohawk on N.A. Cup night. That is assuming they don’t face each other in a leg of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes.

In total, more than 30 races will go for over $400,000 as the schedule continues through the last day of November when the Progress Pace, as usual, marks the official end to the stakes year.

 

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2017 Major Races USTA_final.pdf94.48 KB