International Trot Stars in Busy Weekend

by John Furgele, Harness Racing 228

Saturday is the return of the Yonkers International Trot, a race that was held from 1959-1995 and then re-started in 2015 by Yonkers CEO Tim Rooney.  There will be 7 nations represented–Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, United States, Italy and France–with defending champion Resolve back to defend his title in the 1 1/4 mile race.

There will be $3.3 million in purses Saturday at Yonkers.  In addition to the International Trot, it is championship day for the New York Sire Stakes with 8 races, each carrying $225,000 purses.  There is also the Dan Rooney Pace for $250,000 and the Harry Harvey Trot, also for $250,000.  The Rooney has eight going one mile while the Harvey sees 10 going 1 1/4 miles.

On Monday, Monticello will host the NYSS Consolations–eight races, each with $50,000 purses, for a total of $400,000.  The NYSS did a nice job of dividing the cards as Buffalo, Batavia, Saratoga, Tioga and Vernon all got to host some of the action.  In the end, the top point earners are heading to Yonkers with those next in line trekking off to Monticello.

For Cleveland Indians fans who are down because of their Division Series loss to the New York Yankees, they can head over to Northfield Park Saturday night to watch the $120,000 Courageous Lady for 3-year old filly pacers.  A field of eight is scheduled for the 9:20 pm post time.  Like Yonkers and Monticello, Northfield races 12 months a year and Saturday offers a little flair and excitement to the track in NE Ohio.

Saratoga offers three traditional $18,000 Open Handicaps. The fillies and mares are pacing on Friday; the male pacers take the stage on Saturday and the Open Trot is Sunday.  In that race, Saratoga Horse of the Year candidate Twisted Pretzel will have to overcome the “famous” eight post to get that $9,000 winner’s share.

Scarborough Downs gets into the act as well, offering four divisions of the Maine Standardbred Breeders Stakes, each carrying at least an $85,000 purse.

On Sunday, the venerable 7/8 mile oval at Vernon Downs will play host to the Excelsior Series finals.  There are eight races for the two and three year olds and each have $45,000 purses.  Post time is 6:45 pm; making for a rare Sunday evening card at Vernon.

After the smoke from this weekend clears, it will be time to gear up for the Breeders Crown.  The 12-race, two day event heads to Anderson, Indiana and Hoosier Park and promises to bring out the best that harness racing has to offer.  One question of intrigue is whether the super mare, Hannelore Hanover will run against the boys or girls.  The purses are $500,000 and $250,000 respectively and we all know ‘HH” can more than hold against the boys.

The Breeders Crown heads to the Midwest for the first time in three decades and this year, there will be $6 million in purses.  Six races go on Friday, October 27 beginning at 6 pm and on Saturday, it’s six more slated for that same 6 pm post time.  As per usual the 2-year olds run for the most money with $600,000 purses for four races.  Hoosier Park is a 7/8 mile track so the racing should be on the up and up.  The Saturday card ends with the $500,000 Open Trot and $400,000 Open Pace.

It’s a busy weekend indeed, highlighted by a race that offers international intrigue as well as some mystery with the 39th running of the Yonkers International Trot.

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