My name is not Hank, but I thought it was catchy.
Saturday at 11AM begins the best harness card of the year (although of late, the Metro Card and NA Cup Card is giving it a run), and Hambo Hank is here with some thoughts. For a free program, you can get one here.
The daylight Hambo card is geared to speed over the years, almost without fail. If the first couple of races are wire jobs and that apparent bias exists, I will be constructing my late horizontals accordingly. It looks like there is a chance of rain later in the day.
Race 2, is The Perretti Matchmaker for $100k. This is the first big question mark race of the card, and if you pick soundly, you might get paid. Both Autumn Escapade and Buck I St Pat stopped like they were hit with Hong Kong poison darts last time, and both are back in. I doubt the latter will supply you with any odds though, and we probably have to a take shot on something else. I’ll try Jersey AS. You cannot find a hotter trainer if you looked, and the mare raced great last time off the speed try. She’ll be odds, and I am throwing her in the mix.
Race 3 is a spectating affair for me in the first Oliver Wendall Holmes. I expect Big Jim to get the job done, as in between finals, it appears Ed Hart does not have the big colt too wound up. If I bet I might take a 5-1 or 5-3 ex and look for value with Roll With Joe off the ticket.
Race 4 is the $333k Merrie Annabelle. I will more than likely watch this one as well. Check Me Out looks as nice as a filly can look at this stage (unless you are, say, Snow White). I might take a poke on something on the post parade and score out looks, but I doubt it.
Race 5 is the Peter Haughton and this is a nice group of colts. I have been on the Big Chocolate train for a few weeks, but he is in tough here and will need some luck. I am 100% going with on track looks here for my play. The logicals are who they are.
Race 6 is the US Pacing Championship. I saw my first one on television way back in the 1980’s when On the Road Again crushed in 151, and since that time it has been my favorite race on Hambo Day. Tomorrow, if the track is quick, we could see a monster mile. Like a lot of you, I think Won the West is the best in here, and when he makes front, he can really motor. But will he? He will probably be overbet either way you slice it. Other than Vlos and Kyle Major, I think a case can be made for any of these. Atochia has been live and should be super odds, but is a closer; and Aracache Hanover is usually an underbet speed threat. Great race and I’ll be scanning the odds board for my play.
Race 7 is the Nat Ray, and if you are a racing fan, it has to be the most entertaining tilt of the day. Arch Madness, at his best, is the best horse, but he has not been for the last two starts. San Pail might be underbet because he is a Canadian horse, but he is fine down there. Lucky Jim from the rail should take some money. I am looking forward to taking a poke at none of those contenders – I am going with Hot Shot Blue Chip. The horse is a monster when he has his head screwed on right and he raced like a freight train in the Maple Leaf. He’s fresh, he’s fast and he’ll be odds. He's my blink horse for the card.
Race 8 is the Hambletonian Oaks, in its usual time slot. A lot of years this is a coronation of sorts, as there tends to be one really nice filly in the mix. Crys Dream is arguably the best horse of any sex and gait in harness racing, and she gets a chance to prove it. Although a good many of you (because of her last positive and the court injunction) would like to see her beat, it looks like a tough task. However, in my opinion there is evidence (if you watched last week) that she is ripe for the picking. I know she had time off, and I know she should be better, but this is a filly who exploded off a slow qualifier and six months off to beat older colts in May. She did not win with as much punch as I’d like to see in her elim. If she is odds, I may have to take a poke at Jezzy. If not there are others to look at, like Iron lady, Zerons mare, Sashy and Hey Mister, to name a few.
Selections, FWIW - 10-1-2
Selections, FWIW - 10-1-2
Race 9 is the big one, the $1.5M Hambletonian. It is a really nice tilt this year with some possibles, and I would like to say I am doing a major deviation from others, but I am not.
From the rail out:
Broad Bahn – You want a speed horse on a speed favoring track? You’ll be betting George. Something tells me he is going to go way too fast, so I can’t play him tomorrow at odds which might be underlayed.
Manofmanymissions – If you want the most talented horse, this one is yours. Erv Miller will probably have him primed and as sound as he can be with vet work, salt water baths, whatever the cat dragged in. I wonder if his problems are more than just his ankle or feet though, and with such a big crowd and afternoon sun (and low odds) he’s not for me.
Fawkes – A longshot last time who raced great, but he can’t possibly get a better trip. Nice horse, but a longshot.
Chapter Seven – He’s fresh and he’s got a big motor. If he is second or third over off a 23 flat three panels behind MOMM, he’d be about 1.15 at betfair. He’s the now horse, a likely winner, but I fear he’ll probably be too low to bet.
Whit – A punchers chance with traffic trouble.
Whiskey Tax – Tom Durand is a good guy and I hope this colt does well. I threw him in my pick 4 last time and he wasn’t bad.
Opening Night – He raced with some pop last time. 1st time JC on a trotter is ROI positive. He has lots going for him, but I don’t think he’s fast enough. Who knows though if Brennan goes 54.1 or something.
Magnum Kosmos – He’s a nice little horse who really impressed me last time. Sure Andy Miller was toying with him, but he raced really well. He’s hard to see from out there, but he has something going for him.
Luckycharm Hanover – Longshot.
Pastor Stephen – Last year’s champion has had like 100 issues this year. He had no zip last time, but he probably needed the race. Stranger things have happened if he kicks it up a notch, which is not out of the realm of possibility. If this race was on betfair, getting matched above book would be advised I think.
Race 11 is the Mistletoe Shallee and it is a really cool race. I made a bet after her first start that Idyllic would not make a couple hundred K this year, and although she did not improve an inch off her initial start, she keeps racing. She has a shot in here. Krispy Apple with the ten might scare some people off, but she has been a machine. I expect Drop the Ball will try a covered trip this time. Two horses who have some go that are not mentioned by many are Swinging Beauty, and the horse I will be playing: Myluvmylife. She exploded last time and had plenty of pace. I think I'm going deep here, and I am going to try and make a score.
Race 12 is the US Pacing Championship II and it’s another excellent race. Hypnotic Blue Chip is back on form, and people tend to forget he was a top ranked horse earlier in the year. Jody will no doubt have him covered up, and he is a probable play for me, if odds. Foiled Again went a monster mile last time and could be heard from. Bettor Sweet is a great horse. This is truly an odds board race for me. I wish Razzle Dazzle had a good post, as he was very good last time. I might chuck him in, just in case the pace is crazy.
Race 13 is a nice race – the Lady Liberty. Anndrovette was totally off her game last time, but she still raced well. I can’t see anyone catching her, as Kesmodel should have her ready this time. She might be a single for me, as everyone will be going at least two deep here, with Dreamfair Eternal. I'd bet her flat if I could get 2-1 or over.
Race 14 is the second division of the Oliver Wendall Holmes. Big Bad John is fresh and is a must use. If he is anywhere as good as he was for the Burlington, good luck catching him. I’ll probably look towards High Noon if the odds board cooperates. He is a bit better than he is showing, and if he gets a nice trip from the inside, he’ll be heard from.
That’s it for me. Join us on Twitter if you are playing the card, and are interested.
I hope everyone enjoys the card, and good luck!!!!