05/17/2012 9:22AM

Meadowlands: Bergman attacks the Saturday card

Jay Bergman gives his take on Saturday's guaranteed wagers at the Meadowlands.

Go with what you know.

That’s my motto, especially as the type and style of racing changes. As those who have watched the trotting game through the years understand by now, the races in May look nothing like the races in January. A new cast of characters along with some stragglers from the past will be present at New Meadowlands on Saturday night and the challenges in handicapping the 12-race card are decidedly different.

Just look at the first race. Two weeks ago Pirouette Hanover made her sophomore debut in what appeared to be a very soft field in the Simpson Memorial. So soft, that her two so-so qualifiers couldn’t dissuade backers from knocking her down to 1-2.

Pirouette, a daughter of Western Ideal, went down the road with very soft fractions and wound up a disappointing third, beaten just a half length.

So in Saturday’s first race we have to ask whether the filly will be sharper? We have to ask whether anyone in the field can step up in class? We have to ask whether her price will be worth the investment or whether it’s right to spread out and stay alive in Pick Five competition.

My theory is that it’s not a good bet to spread out in Pick Five, especially when there are only seven fillies in the race. With an additional two weeks to prep I just can’t see trainer Ed Hart entering a New Jersey Sire Stakes event with Pirouette short again.

There’s far more confidence that A Rocknroll Dance won’t come up short in his seasonal debut, race two and the first leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for sophomore pacers. The top-rated colt in the country also faces a short field. This one appears rather cold with Ideal Champ, an improving gelding from the Joe Holloway stable, likely to earn the place spot. I’ll use All Stienam and Rockweiller for second and third in trifectas.

The third race of the evening seems to be Thanks For Stoppin’s to lose. Pick Five players will need some reinforcement here and Spectacular Man and Finn Man are my savers. My angles here are: Spectacular Man is in for a tag in this optional claimer and Finn Man is a new face that showed reasonable speed against higher quality opposition at Pocono.

The fourth race is the second division of Sire Stakes for soph pacing fillies and Mikeleh has been the most impressive of these thus far in 2012. The daughter of Western Ideal lands a solid spot and figures to be in top hands. Rockaround Sue, a legitimate stakes horse at two faced a solid field in her prep and should benefit from it.

The final leg of the Pick Five is the fifth race and it marks the return of two of the top five freshman from a year ago. Simply Business had some kinks to his game but rose to the occasion in capturing the $1 million Metro last September at Mohawk. I Fought Dalaw was so incredibly dead game in a multitude of races last year that it seemed no horse could look him in the eye and get on by. But by years end he didn’t appear to have the same fight in him. Two qualifiers this year were solid, but may not answer the questions you like to have answered before making a wager. Needless to say I’m not sold on any of the other six in this field elevating their games enough to belong on the Grand Circuit.

So The Pick Five Play looks like this: (4 with 4 with 4,6,10 with 4,6 with 3,8) $1 wager, investment $12

Unlike the Pick Five, Saturday’s $75,000 Guaranteed Pick Four (races 6-9) begins with far more uncertainty. The $50,000 invite hoped to lure some of the top candidates from last week’s Graduate final but only succeeded in attracting Meirs Hanover to the fray. The race marks the 5-year-old debut of We Will See, a $2.1 million winner that figures to improve upon his 11-win season a year ago. That said, We Will See’s easy qualifying wins came off very soft opening half fractions. In a race that is expected to go around 1:48 and change under favorable conditions, it seems wise to expect We Will See may need a race. For the purposes of Pick Four action, I think it is wise to spread a bit around him and hope he’s not ready, at least this week.

From a class perspective, $1.2 million winner Dial Or Nodial is the key to starting on the right foot. He followed up a no-shot off the pace mile two starts back with a brisk 1:21 two-move blowout three-quarters-of-a-mile effort at Pocono. The third place finish was respectable considering the effort. While Dial Or Nodial’s best races may have come on smaller tracks there’s no reason to believe he’s not perfectly set up to go a big trip.

Special T Rocks continues to amaze for trainer-driver Daryl Bier. He returns to the Meadowlands as sharp as ever and should benefit from the post five draw. Two weeks ago I wouldn’t have bet two cents on River Shark to ever be an open pacer again. Then, last week he scores in 1:51 4/5 at Yonkers in the top class. This is a much better horse on the big track and seems a valuable use.

High Noon, an overachiever at three, and Veal Marsala, one of the better horses at the Meadowlands a year ago, are the keys in race seven. Veal Marsala had a rather adventurous journey a week ago as driver Ron Pierce left hard then idled back in sixth. He then made a sweeping move to the lead at the half and cut the pace before tiring late. He figures to be much sharper, especially with the inside draw.

High Noon showed speed in his 4-year-old return and is expected to improve.

In the eighth, Custard The Dragon returns to the sight of his Meadowlands Pace elimination win. He draws the rail and looks ready for a big effort. Alexie Mattosie returns to a more competitive level after two reasonable efforts against Graduate foes.

We’ll key Diablo Seelster in the final Pick Four leg. This 5-year-old is stepping way down in class after some respectable efforts.

Pick Four Play-(2,5,8 with 3,5 with 1,9 with 5) $1 wager, investment $12


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