Colts raise the ante in ‘Dancer’ splits

Posted by Frank Cotolo on Sunday, July 18, 2010 3:12 AM
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It’s getting late to become a major contender for the Hambletonian but hope is springing eternal for some July newcomers, as was part of the scene during three major preps at the Meadowlands on July 17. A trio of $127,000-$130,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial miles were showcases for a large cast of Hambo-eligibles, each mile proving that no single colt is best.


In the shortest field, the first “Dancer,” with seven trotting, Cassis, undeniably king of the Ray Schnittker band, was a huge favorite. Getting to the top took a little more than expected in :26.4 but Cassis got there. He continued to lead, sizzling three-quarters in 1:24.3, taunted only by Coco Lindy’s first-over chase.


But the speedy journey took its toll late as Jeff Gillis’ He’s A Demon took advantage of the hot trot and smoothly came down the middle of the track to catch Cassis.


“Demon,” a Canadian invader, was coming out of conditioned races, having won three of four prior to his U.S. debut. Overlooked in the wagering, he paid $21.60 and placed himself into the herd heading for Hambo elims.


Coco Lindy was impressive with the overland-journey grind, holding on for third. This was only his third race of the season.    


The second Dancer was a full field of eight with wagering that had little regard for any entry but Muscle Massive. The powerful colt from the Jimmy Takter barn was 2-5 and won like he was 1-20.


The race began exceptionally slow with Flex The Muscle leaving courageously but cutting the first quarter in only :28. Temple Of Doom, placed well early, took over and then “Flex” dueled the lead back. It was all feeble work when “Massive” took the lead and the race quickened, with three-quarters in 1:25.3.


“Doom” was strongest against Massive, dueling down the stretch and, for a moment, looking like a late surge could win it at 7-1. But Massive dismissed the slight chance of defeat and rolled home.


Pilgrims Chuckie got a piece, finishing third, and Flex held begrudgingly to take fourth. Take My Picture, coming off of a strong second in the Yonkers Trot Final, played no role in this race. Neither did Winning Fireworks, in only his second start of the season, or Plan B In HD, also fresh to the track at three.


The Dancer triptych ended with another victory for Holiday Road. Greg Peck’s latecomer won his second straight at three as a 2-5 choice against hard-hitting rivals that are not about to hand him the top prize yet.

Break The Bank K, a victim of Pilgrim’s Taj’s bad break last week in an Open, led the field early, cutting the :27 first quarter. It was not long before “Road,” sitting third early, demanded the lead, got it, and began a calculated roll to three-quarters in 1:26.1. Pilgrim’s Taj was in good stride this week, coming first over and aiming at Road bravely. “Bank” was crammed inside at that point and would never get free enough to charge late.


However, Lucky Chucky, in his second start of the season, took advantage of lying low early and was eating up real estate late enough to pick up second as “Taj” tired. Mystery Photo was third by default.


Out of the picture almost entirely were eligibles Classic Viking, Adrion Dream and Wishing Stone.


At Mohawk, meanwhile, Text Me put in a big mile in a Canadian Breeders Championship (CBC) elim, winning as a $3.40 favorite. Windsong Geant, the other Hambo-eligible in the field, was third.


In the other CBC elim, the three eligibles, Poof K, Quantum Antonio and Arriba Amigo were off the board.


Considering the fine performances of the top contenders in the division through the July 17 program at the Meadowlands, it is still too early to dismiss the talents of Cassis, Muscle Massive, Break The Bank K, Temple Of Doom, Pilgrim’s Taj and Hard Livin and award Holiday Road the top contender’s spot. The second string of sophs is still going strong and newcomers like Lucky Chucky and He’s A Demon may be improving as quickly as Holiday Road has delivered a pair of wins.


So the Hambletonian Trail is still crowded with talented traffic and more trotting thrills are yet to come.   

By Frank and Ray Cotolo 





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