by John Furgele, Harness Racing 228
Old Man Winter might be the best performer thus far in 2018. Many cards have been cancelled because of extreme weather—either heavy snows or bitter cold—at various tracks across the country.
Hawthorne was down this past Thursday and Friday and on Wednesday, Monticello was forced into darkness. Unfortunately, it wasn’t only Old Man Winter that did damage. Buffalo Raceway has been fighting a horse shortage and the result has caused several Friday night cards to be cancelled. The track has been able to put together fairly full cards on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but Fridays have not been a go for the Buffalo oval.
The Meadows has seen several horses test positive for the Equine Herpes Virus and isn’t scheduled to race again until February 23. These are tough times indeed for the sport of harness racing. No winter is easy and this one has been exceptionally hard.
The biggest loss this winter may have been the death of the legendary Somebeachsomewhere who succumbed to cancer in January. The stellar colt won 21 of 22 career starts and was a dynamo in the breeding shed, producing stakes winner after stakes winner. In a sport that needs more breeding to remain healthy, the loss of “The Beach,” will be felt for some time to come.
The richest horse of all-time, Foiled Again, remains stuck on 99 career wins. On Saturday (Feb. 10), the colt tried for that milestone win, but—excuse the pun—was foiled by the dreaded eight post at Yonkers Raceway. We all know how tough it is to win from the 8 on a half-mile track and you can usually tell if the 8 has a chance before they hit the 1/8 mile mark and last night, you knew it wasn’t going to be Foiled Again’s day. He tried to get in the flow, couldn’t, and when they came around the first time in classic single file, he was at the end of that line and that is where he would finish. Here’s hoping that he draws a better post in his next race.
In the Yonkers open pace, Dream Out Loud set torrid fractions of 26.3, 54.4 and 1:23.3 and was still there entering the stretch before giving way to Killer Martini, who stormed home to win in 1:53.0. Thisjetsabookin got up for second and the game aforementioned Dream Out Loud hung on for third.
In the open trot, favorite Rubber Duck tried to race two wide and that ultimately did him in as the lone filly, NF Happenstance rolled home to win in 1:55.1, easily beating Dog Gone Lucky. It was the fourth win in five 2017 starts for the 8-year old mare.
The race of the night at Yonkers was the finale as Chumlee A and Mach Time N hooked up in fantastic duel that shows the best of racing on a half-mile oval. Despite racing two wide, Mach Time N was able to get his nose in front at the end to win in 1:53.0, equaling the fastest time of the night for the pacers.
Handle continues to be up at the Hilltop Oval. On Friday (Feb. 9) the track handled $700,511 over 11 races and on Saturday; $653,859 for 12 races.
Yonkers returns to action on Monday, February 12 with a 12-race card.