09/24/2014 9:44PM

Giwner: Red Mile Handicapping and Insight

Derick Giwner

The Red Mile is gearing up for their Grand Circuit meet showcasing the best standardbred talent in North America. From a handicapping perspective there are certain relevant statistics and idiosyncrasies that play out over the famed red clay in Lexington.

The most important name you need to know for the next two weeks is Tony Alagna. The top trainer wins at an alarming rate at the Red Mile. Last year he led all trainers with 10 wins over the eight days of Grand Circuit racing, good for 11 percent of the total races (89) contested. Going back to 2012, he even won six races in one day. Considering he has 40 horses on the grounds for the meet that begins Thursday (7 p.m. post time), you can expect more of the same in 2014.

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Coming in a close second and third from 2013 were Jonas Czernyson (7 wins) and Jimmy Takter (6 wins). It is no surprise that these two top trotting barns would excel at the Red Mile. The track surface is kind on horses’ feet and keen conditioners typically use this to their advantage.

Other barns which tallied strong totals from 2013 include: Brian Brown (4), Ron Burke (4), Bob Stewart (3), Noel Daley (3), Linda Toscano (3), Robert McNair (3), Joe Holloway, and Erv Miller (3). In fact, the 11 barns listed won 55% of the 89 races contested last year, and the top five accounted for nearly 35% of the victories.

The Red Mile surface, as mentioned, has a way of making certain horses better. Look at Arch Madness. The then 9-year-old was struggling before reaching Lexington and came away with two wins in 2013. Older horses that have been through the wars or even younger ones that simply have a few physical issues could very well wake up at a price upon arrival.

While speed certainly rules in harness racing, the Red Mile is one of the few tracks which provides the opportunity for closers to succeed. The track also produces an oddity, with second quarters that are faster than opening quarters of races.

With the above in mind, and opening night imminent, below are a few spot plays to consider. And if you can’t make it out to the track, you can watch all the action on Sept. 27/28 and October 4/5 right here on DRF.

Thursday (9/25)

Race 5

(3) LOCK DOWN LINDY – Filly looked like a potential star when she started her career at the Meadowlands but faster foes, circumstance, and a costly break have derailed her winning ways. This Bluegrass division looks like the perfect spot for the Alagna trainee to wake up.

Friday (9/26)

Race 1

(1) CANEPA HANOVER – Two-year-old colt seems destined to be a short price, but the $300,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase from last year looks like one of those that will benefit from the Red Mile surface.

Race 4

(6) MY LITTLE DELIGHT – Has more ability than her 1-for-9 record may convey. With a well-timed move she can make some noise.

Saturday (9/27)

Race 6

(5) ODDS ON AMETHYST – This 3-year-old trotter has always displayed raw speed but remaining on stride has proven a difficult task. We now find him in the Jimmy Takter barn and off two decent qualifiers. Perhaps he is finally ready to blossom.

Race 10

(3) GETTINGREADYTOROLL – She was ready to win her Jugette elimination when she went off stride. Now she is back on the big track and should prove difficult to defeat.