by John Furgele, Harness Racing 228
Two $37,500 Preferred Handicaps highlight the Saturday card this week at The Meadowlands and for the first time in quite some time, The Big M’s big races are being run for more than those at Yonkers.
Like last week, there are no $40,000 opens on the Saturday Yonkers card; there is a $35,000 Preferred Handicap for pacers which drew just six starters. Total purses for Saturday’s Yonkers card total $249,000
The Meadowlands offers both a pace and trot in their Preferreds. The trot attracted 10 and is led by the veteran JL Cruze, who has already pocketed over $25,000 in 2020 with 2-0-1 in three starts. Pappy Go Go is 2 for 2 this year and brings earnings of $31,250 into the race.
The Preferred Pace drew eight with New Zealander Franco Totem M the early 2-1 favorite. This is a good Meadowlands card with 13 races totaling $245,375 in purse money. The Meadowlands resurgence continues and as an aside, beginning February 7, post time moves to 6:55 pm.
Buffalo Raceway has its second card of the year with 12 races. Most importantly, eight of the 12 have full fields of eight and the other four will start seven. There are no opens on the docket, but three races will run for at least $10,000 highlighted by an $11,000 Class AA pace. Seven have not raced in 2020 and the one who has, Weekend Atannies is 0-0-0 in two starts with $1,360 in earnings.
Freehold offers 11 races and like most Saturdays, the feature is the $12,000 Preferred Handicap Pace which drew seven.
Sunday is the Super Bowl of course and only one track is brave enough to take the NFL on that evening. Pompano will have a 10-race card beginning at 7:20 pm ET while the game is likely entering the second quarter. Many Sunday runners like Rosecroft and Miami Valley have decided not to challenge the NFL on a day where over 110 million Americans will be tuned into Fox to watch what some call “The Big Game.”
There are two $9,000 paces scheduled and they drew seven starters each. When asked as to why they would run on Super Bowl Sunday, track officials stated that they wanted to go forward and the box is full meaning that each race drew the required number of entrants.
Pompano may be running, but Wally Hennessey won’t be driving. The track’s leading driver says that Super Bowl Sunday is for family and he will be home watching the Big Game with family and friends.
There might not be a better harness racing state than Ohio. Northfield Park, the Ohio track that runs 12 months each and every year has a 16-race Saturday card race with 140 of the 144 slots accounted for. The highlight is the $15,000 Filly and Mare Open Pace led by Bourbon and Bailey. She is 3 for 3 this year with $20,000 in the bank in 2020.
Not be outdone in the Buckeye State is Miami Valley which has 14 races with 135 of the 140 slots accounted for. The big race, a $25,000 Open Pace features a 10-horse field led by veteran Windsong Leo. He’s 3 for 3 with $35,000 in 2020 earnings and is the 2-1 early favorite.
Last but never least is Cal Expo. Like the Meadowlands, the state fair track has the one mile oval, but purses have always been on the small side. Tomorrow’s card has 12 races for a total of $44,600, an average of $3,716 per race. The good thing—the horses don’t know that. The highest purse is for $5,000 and has a field of nine pacers.