by John Furgele, Harness Racing 228
It’s a weekend highlighted by two paces, as well as Yonkers making some trotters work a bit longer to earn their money.
Hoosier Park grabs the Friday spotlight when it hosts the Dan Patch Pace with nine very talented horses entered. The headliner is none other than Lather Up, who this year, has brought the clock its respective knees. He has run 1:46, which ties him with Always B Miki for the fastest mile ever run by a Standardbred and last week, in the Sam McKee Memorial, clocked 1:59.2 for 1 1/8 at The Meadowlands. One has to think that one of these days, he will have an off race, but that hasn’t been the case in 2019.
Can anybody beat him? Well, it is harness racing, so the answer is yes, but Lather Up should do well at Hoosier, a first class facility with a 7/8 mile track. The field has some good names in it, but because Lather Up has been dominant, the field’s winning percentage is on the low side. Reigning Horse of the Year McWicked—third to Lather Up last week—is running as is Jimmy Freight, who has earned $172,454 in this year.
If Lather Up doesn’t win, that’s a story. A big story.
The other big pace takes place Saturday at Northfield Park in Ohio. It’s the annual Carl Milstein Pace which runs for $400,000. The Milstein has seen a resurgence since switching to an invitation race a few years back and this year, the field is headlined by the Adios winner, Southwind Ozzi. He does have to overcome the 8 post, so we should see Ozzi leave right at the start to get the lead and settle in. After that, the rest of the field can take their shots and see what happens.
It’s a good field and overall, is deeper and more accomplished than those running in the Dan Patch. In addition to Southwind Ozzi, American Mercury, Century Farroh, and Working Ona Mystery have all earned over $200k this year, and one, Bettor’s Wish has banked $624,544 due to his second place finish in the Meadowlands Pace. The 3 post makes him the morning line favorite at 5-2.
On Sunday, Tioga offers the Joiedevie, for older trotters. Last year’s Hambletonian winner, Atlanta is entered as are Plunge Blue Chip and Manchego. Atlanta has won six of seven, but was beaten soundly in her last race. The race has a $132,000 purse.
The $148,000 Crawford runs right before the Joiedevie and the field of six is solid, but far from spectacular. There is nothing wrong with Pinkman, Mission Accepted, The Veteran, Run Director, Fiftydallarbill and Speeding Spur, but they are now second-tier horses. No shame of course, but these fine horses have all lost a step in recent years.
Finally, Yonkers is running a trot at 1 1/16 miles. The field of 10 will run for 24k and the field features some solid performers, including Barry Black who has done most of his racing internationally and comes to Yonkers with over 68k in earnings.
It may be the week after the biggest week of the year, but there is still plenty of good racing out there and as they say; something for everyone.