by John Furgele, Harness Racing 228
The title is in honor of the legendary, James “Quick,” Tillis ,the former boxer who fought and lost to Mike Weaver for the WBA heavyweight title in 1981 and was the first boxer to go the distance with Mike Tyson in 1986.
Big Race at The Meadows
The Adios Run for the Orchids may not have the ring that the Run for the Roses does on that first Saturday in May, but mark my words, the Run for the Orchids is shaping up to be fine little race.
The $400,000 event for 3-year old pacers takes place today with a scheduled 4 pm post time.
Like many big races, there were eliminations contested last week with American History and Hitman Hill winning each. Based on that, they deserve to be the favorites, but to me, the horse to watch is Dorsoduo Hanover. He’ll come out of the five hole with driver Matt Kakaley and based on his strong performance in the Meadowlands Pace, in which he finished second, I like him to wear those Orchids when the smoke clears
After a trying season at Buffalo Raceway which saw 29 cards cancelled due to weather or horse shortages, the Western New York harness racing scene has shifted 45 miles to east to venerable Batavia Downs, the nation’s oldest lighted harness track. They jumped right into it on Wednesday, July 25 with New York Sire Stakes actions and will race again Saturday with an 11-race card. The highlight is a 10k open pace. The “Downs” will race primarily Mondays, Wednesday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoon until the NFL season and then Sundays are out. In WNY, competing against Buffalo Bills games just isn’t worth it. Last year’s Bills’ playoff game had a plus 50 rating and a 77 share. If the Bills are playing and even remotely good, nobody leaves their home unless it’s to go to a friend’s house to watch.
This is the calm before the storm at The Big M. Next Saturday (August 4) is Hambletonian Day while this week features two eliminations for the $500,000 Hambo Oaks. Saturday’s card also features two divisions of the Reynolds with total purses of $288,800.
Saratoga Casino Hotel
Last Saturday, Evenin of Pleasure captured the $260,000 Gerrity Memorial, stopping the clock in a blazing 1:49.2. This week, the feature race is the $14,000 Open Pace and Artful Way, who probably disappointed some fans when he beat Foiled Again last week is back in his customary open company. He’ll face seven others and drew the six pole.
The Saturday card features 11 races with six using Trackmaster ratings to determine the fields. This somewhat controversial technique is starting to spring up a bit as we move forward. Some racing secretaries fear it could make their job irrelevant, while others say the ratings can’t take into account track conditions, track size among other factors. Both Rosecroft and Ocean Downs in Maryland used Trackmaster ratings and it will be interesting to see if this starts to catch on.
In the six races, four are designated as Class B, which means that the Trackmaster speed rating was 85.99 or less. The two Class C races are written for horses with ratings of 78.05 or less.
Vernon uses Class B and Class C while Maryland’s Ocean Downs prefers Gold, Silver and Platinum. That’s sematics, it is the speed rating that matters when determining fields.
As with any change, some love, some loathe with the rest caught somewhere in the middle. Let’s keep an eye on this going forward.
Old Hilltop has the $44,000 Open Handicap Pace on Saturday. Bit of a Legend, second to Evenin of Pleasure in the Gerrity headlines the field, but will have to do it from the eight hole.
Sunday features the French Trots with the first four races going 1 ¼ miles. The third race is nothing spectacular except the horse coming from the three hole. How can you not love O U Sexy Guy.
Enjoy and may your bets be winning ones.