THE BEST CARD OF 2017 SO FAR—ANYWHERE—IS AT HARRAH'S ON SUNDAY
Welcome, fans of harness racing at Harrah's Philadelphia, to what is arguably the best card of harness racing to be presented in North America so far in 2017 -- the continent's best pacing mares join with N.A.'s best free-for-allers on both the trot and the pace in three $150,000 Invitational races -- the Maxie Lee Trot, the Betsy Ross Mares Pace, and the Ben Stafford Jr. Pace. The horses in these three fields have collectively earned over $21 million in their careers; there are 11 millionaires in the three fields of eight; and twelve have gone in 1:50 or faster -- including the trotter JL CRUZE! We devote today's ANALYSIS to these three top races.
$150,000 MAXIE LEE TROT (race 10): After his outstanding campaign at four, when he trotted in 1:49.4, JL CRUZE didn't have quite the kind of season in 2016, but he's been strong to date this year...last time he went to the half in 53.3 and still was victorious. CRAZY WOW has been bang-bang-bang this season, but yet to make the breakthrough -- maybe "wow" comes now. Who knows how good TUONOBLU REX is? We may after this weekend. And the mare CHARMED LIFE also deserves respect in gimmicks.
$150,000 BETSY ROSS PACE (race 11): LADY SHADOW has just been too good too long in this division to warrant anything but the ultimate in respect. She's only had one race this year, but she was ready for it...probably depends if her foes really rough her up. We all know what a great champion PURE COUNTRY has been at 2 and 3...let's see how she fares against the best older girls. And NIKE FRANCO N has looked pretty awesome in her last pair -- may fit right in. The others seem longshots.
A LOOK AT THE $150,000 BEN STAFFORD JR. PACE (race 12): CHRISTEN ME N has already conquered half the pacing continents...he was 2015 New Zealand Horse of the Year...and he may be ready to ascend to the North American throne (or at least until WIGGLE whateverhisnameis comes back). Yes, that's 25.2 for a last quarter at M(1) last time, and he goes over $2M with a win this weekend. SOMEWHERE IN L A might find the pace hard to control; another Kiwi, MOSSDALE CONNER N, is right now a "ceiling unknown."
WATCH OUT FOR: Overlooking opportunities for good wagering spots elsewhere in the big card -- amidst all of these good horses at Philly, it seems likely some overlay will turn up. How good is the rest of the card here? Well, leaving out the three Invitationals, there are 26 horses who have paced in 1:50 or faster in their careers, and there are three millionaires and nine more horses with $500,000 in career earnings. Somebody will be a good price!