Crunch Time for Colts as Coundown Ensues July 6, 2010

Posted by Frank Cotolo on Monday, July 12, 2010 2:42 PM
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There is less than a month until the Hambletonian fields line up for the penultimate battle of the berths. This is the time when the pressure is on the colts with tenuous credentials, those eligibles that will know soon whether or not history is waiting to address their presence.

Forget about winning the coveted event, right now the goal is to get to participate in it. This week a few more prep races surface along with the featured Yonkers Trot and it is important to understand that all possible participants will be racing their hearts out to gain earnings and status.

For the betting public this is a plus, as a great deal of the money to be made along the "trail" is on the journey toward the classics. It is, now, a good time to look at some of those on the fringe of the division, those fighting to stay in the game, to make the grade over the next few weeks with prowess.

Holiday Road’s strong return has recreated the buzz he had after he won the Peter Haughton last year. Certainly his "Muscle" connections keep the buzz louder but no one should make "Holiday" the Hambo favorite just yet.

Cassis, leading the Schnittker herd of eligibles, could be falling under the radar right now but is the biggest threat just now. It’s the other Schnittker colts that are on the fence. Shaq Is Back, Flex The Muscle and Big Stick Lindy are playing second fiddle to Cassis; their fates as far as the Hambo is concerned, are balancing on their July performances.

Jimmy Takter’s barn has its share of colt probabilities. Most believe that Muscle Massive leads the group but, arguably, Hard Livin is right there with him. Senor Glide’s recent success has brought some hope for a less-than-sterling performer so far. On the cusp for Takter are Stimulus and On The Tab. Those two have had their problems trotting, no less keeping up with their own stable mates in the earnings department.

Jonas Czernyson’s band of glamour boys are all second string just now if you put them eye to eye with their divisional foes’ credentials. However, Temple Of Doom remains the colt that has improving properties and can surprise a lot of people when he peaks, especially if he puts on his best show on Aug. 7. Trouble getting to the big show in Jonas’ group lay in the paths for Can’t Lose, Baximum and Classic Puzzle. "Lose" could be the best of this trio and if he can smooth his gait in the next few weeks he could be elim-bound.

Veteran Chuck Sylvester’s trail to another Hambo win is muddy, at best. Lucky Chucky didn’t do so well in his return and being an "also trotted" in the dust of Holiday is not going to fair well for the immediate future. Still, he needs another shot and if he gets it and passes the test, he may pay more than most ever thought he could. His protégé, Scott Andrews handles co-owner Sylvester’s Pilgrims Chucky, certainly in better shape now for an elim contest than "Lucky."

Trond Smedshammer’s lot of colts cannot be denied, even this late in the game. Break The Bank K is his top one but his recent efforts are weighing down his chances to get in the main mix. Actually, his other possibility, one that is improving, is Priority Photo, and he could be the surprise Trondite [sic] for the August classic. Boztheman is another in waiting.

Per Henriksen will have to make some heavy decisions soon based on the progress (or lack of it) of Waldorf Hall. The classy-bred colt may not be sophomore material; he is not coming around as expected. He is, however, showing signs of life at the right time and for bettors he is worth a look, in case he delivers a strong race in the next month, which will be worth major dollars.

Whata Winner, the only gelding in the campaign, is a fine horse and has taken some of the New York-bred sophs to task early. But recently we have seen some weakness that was not apparent early and this gets him struggling a bit for July. There is no way yet, of course, to toss him out of the top 10.

There are others needing strong Julys to keep up with the division’s hot ones now. Watch these closely, as their connections send them out to prove they are Hambo material, where perhaps they deliver the races of their sophomore lives and bring some great win mutuels along with them.

In this group, add Take My Picture, Carnegie, Celebrity Blue Chip, Text Me, I’ve Got It All, R Sam, Jetblue Volo, Sailaway Dream, Mystery Photo and Premier Hanover.

Can a giant emerge from the ranks of the eligibles that have yet to become recognizable? The prospects are dim but the light of hope has not yet gone out.

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