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Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace Night: Big 5 on the Big M

July 15, 2016

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Five expert handicappers break down the biggest stakes on the Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace card.

Saturday at the Meadowlands Racetrack (post time 6:30 pm. Eastern time), harness racing fans will be treated to another terrific card of racing on a stakes card featuring 13 races and over $2.6 million in purses. Apart from the main event, the $732,050 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace, the $471,800 William R. Haughton Memorial offers a rematch of The Big 3 — Always B Miki, Wiggle It Jiggleit and Freaky Feet Pete. As well as the extra handicapping dimension of having five races with at least one trailer and three stakes raced at a distance of a mile-and-an-eighth, race 12 offers the Super High Five Jackpot featuring a carryover of $267,769.

In order to celebrate this tremendous card of racing, Harness Racing Update is proud to bring you handicapping of the four biggest stakes from our five experts — Sam McKee, the Hall of Fame race caller from the Meadowlands Racetrack; Chad Rozema, a lead standardbred analyst and broadcaster with the Woodbine Entertainment Group; Hall of Fame handicapper, statistician, broadcaster and historian Bob Heyden and HRU columnist Dean Towers, an officer with the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) and Meadowlands race caller extraordinaire Ken Warkentin.

Race 9 – William R. Haughton Memorial

BOB HEYDEN – SELECTIONS: 7 – 10 – 5 – 3

7 FREAKY FEET PETE – Can anyone definitively separate the Big Three at this point? I know I cannot. Two straight seconds for FFP, he’s maintained his form, which surprised many, and he’ll be right in the mix again.
10 WIGGLE IT JIGGLEIT – Post 10 for 1 1/8 miles is perfect for him. He comes off yet another gargantuan effort — in a downpour — posting a lifetime mark dueling with FFP in the lane very much like 20 years ago when Jennas Beach Boy and Riyadh slugged it out in a 1:47.3 World race record. How can HE maintain his form for 40 career starts? Amazing.
5 ALWAYS B MIKI – Comes off consecutive 1:47 wins, is beyond talented and is the likely favorite because of the draw. The fans have to be hoping we get to see a handful of these matchups. Who can remember three standouts in the same race like this prior? (Side note: Anyone notice the irony of possibly Always B Miki showcasing his incredible talent on Pace Night, the very night in 2007 that his sire, Always A Virgin, appeared to be a winner in the Meadowlands Pace as the favorite but made the untimeliest of breaks?)
3 DEALT A WINNER – Quietly was the fastest three-year-old of 2015 (1:47.3 Cane Pace). His form is deceptive and he can handle the rest of these at a box car mutuel. Mark Silva is ever so quietly appearing in both the Pace and the Haughton. Nice.

CHAD ROZEMA – SELECTIONS: 5 – 2 – 7 – 10

5 ALWAYS B MIKI – Went another big trip in the Ben Franklin and has stamped himself as the top older pacer in NA. He’s been well prepped by Takter who has been able to keep him at the top of his game. He draws well and I don’t think the added distance will be an issue. He keeps the good times rolling.
2 SHAMBALLA – Wasn’t at his best in his latest and will be aiming to rebound for team Zeron. He’s one of the best closers of the field and should stand to benefit from the extra eighth of a mile. He finished 2nd to Miki three starts back and I’m pegging him for the same result in his Big M debut.
7 FREAKY FEET PETE – Put up a good fight in the Graduate Final but was simply second best in another WR mile. Trace is likely to keep him forwardly placed and his perfect in the money record at the Grand Circuit level makes him tough to leave out of the top 3.
10 WIGGLE IT JIGGLEIT – Was sensational again last weekend equaling the world record of 1:47.2 in heavy rain over rival Freaky Feet Pete. He can do things a lot of horses can’t do, but will be challenged tonight racing from this post. It would be special if he won from out here.

DEAN TOWERS – SELECTIONS: 5 – 7 – 10 – 12

5 ALWAYS B MIKI – Is currently the undisputed King of harness racing, and it’s very well deserved. Unlike in the Franklin final, this time he has a post edge, with his two main foes drawing to the outside of him. If he brings his “A” — or probably even his “A minus” game — he’ll be very tough to beat.
7 FREAKY FEET PETE – Seems to be in a nice spot, and like in the Franklin, has a chance at a two hole trip behind Always B Miki. If so, and if Miki does not fire his best shot, I don’t think it would surprise too many if he converted.
10 WIGGLE IT JIGGLEIT – Has a tough post and will have to work hard, and/or get some nice racing luck from outside to be victorious against his salty rivals. I was tempted to leave him off my top three, but that shows ill-gotten disrespect to a horse who always shows up, leaves it all on the track, and has a world of talent.
12 ALL BETS OFF – Was probably born in the wrong year, because he is fast, very sharp, and in most Haughtons would be a deserving top choice. He’s just really up against it, with the top three being some of the best pacers the sport has seen in some time.


10 WIGGLE IT JIGGLEIT – The defending Horse of the Year has not only come back in stellar form as a four-year-old, he’s proven to be resilient. Last week, he simply overpowered arch rival Freaky Feet Pete, by stinging him to a :25.3 quarter and still had a :26.2 bullet in his arsenal en route to another world record of 1:47.2, while coming hot on the heels of his fierce battle with Always B Miki. Look for him to blast off from post 10, and as George Teague, Jr. said, “Great horses do great things.” Wiggle It Jiggleit is great right now.
5 ALWAYS B MIKI – The ultimate Comeback Kid has started to string together a Sweet Lou type streak, with back-to-back world records of 1:47 at Pocono, and an all-time Canadian mark of 1:47.1 at Mohawk. Obviously, a very dangerous horse when able to take control, he can also grind all day and explode from off the pace. With only four starts last year, we surely haven’t seen his absolute best yet, and that’s scary.
7 FREAKY FEET PETE – The Breeders Crown champion has continued to do extremely well when venturing away from his Indiana base. His world record of 1:47.1 on June 25 at Pocono was a cruise control romp. He was right there with “Miki” in the Ben Franklin Final, took a lot of heat and just missed to “Wiggle It” last week. Pete is just finding his best stride and completes a power trio of great horses.
2 SHAMBALLA – The Mohawk sensation was a bang up second to “Miki” in the Mohawk Gold Cup record mile, and advanced to the Ben Franklin Final with an excellent elimination, flashing sharp speed at both ends, yet wasn’t able to finish with the same vigor and clearly had an off night going for $500,000. Draws well for his Meadowlands debut, but needs a big rebound effort.

SAM MCKEE – SELECTIONS: 5 – 10 – 7 – 3

5 ALWAYS B MIKI – This horse is a monster and can keep right on rolling at top speed for a long, long way. Takter has him in peak physical condition, plus he never seems to get tired so the mile-and-an-eighth plays right into his wheelhouse. With a decent post draw inside his main rivals and a week off since the Franklin, the road to the winner’s circle goes through him.
10 WIGGLE IT JIGGLEIT – Love his courage, his desire, and his toughness week in and week out. With an extra eighth of a mile off the wings, I think he can get pretty good position since he’s a horse others would love to follow into a striking spot.
7 FREAKY FEET PETE – A fantastic horse that may well blast out of there and yield the lead only to Always B Miki. Never seems to go a bad race, figures to be sitting close to the front, and certainly has a puncher’s chance come crunch time.
3 DEALT A WINNER – Very lightly raced so far this year and getting sharper. Has some late pop as we saw last year finishing fourth in the Pace and upsetting in the Cane off those torrid fractions. Capable of chasing home the top trio at a price.

Race 10 – Hambletonian Maturity

BOB HEYDEN – SELECTIONS: 4 – 9 – 2 – 10

4 HANNELORE HANOVER – The only female in the race. She absolutely brings back memories of Buck I St Pat for the Burke stable. She’s 8-for-9 this year after an 8-for-17 season in 2015. Remember that her only loss this year was versus the boys, but she trotted home in :26.4 even then).
9 MUSICAL RHYTHM – Is a son of two Breeders Crown winners — Cantab Hall and Musical Victory. He’s got a serious winning habit — 21-for-37 — and John Campbell’s drive last week was one of his best, and that is saying plenty. Great race brewing and a very nice way of rewarding those who didn’t bask in the 2015 Hambletonian picture.
2 CENTURION ATM – Five starts in 2016 with five different drivers. Now Trace Tetrick sticks, and why not? His perfect steer last week got the stable second money. One of three representatives of the Svanstedt stable, who in year three in the USA is showing that the Sebastian K showcase was anything but a fluke.
10 HONOR AND SERVE – Doesn’t figure to see the lead at any point starting from here in a powerful field. Still, he’s got talent, and despite the 6-for-27 slate, shows two sub-1:52 miles in his last four starts.


5 CRESCENT FASHION – Needed his latest start having missed the previous month due to sickness. I’m predicting better Saturday and he should be set up for a late surge with plenty of early action expected. His only win this year was at a mile and a quarter and he’s capable of upsetting.
9 MUSICAL RHYTHM – Earned the biggest win of his career last week after capturing the Graduate Final in 1:51.2. He was able to overcome a post 10 beginning giving me more confidence as he once again draws outside. Campbell won this event last year with JL Cruze and is well positioned to make more noise.
4 HANNELORE HANOVER – Will try to become the first female to capture this event after Shake It Cerry (third) and Bee A Magician (second) both attempted. She equaled the world record at Mohawk two starts ago without even breaking a sweat. Ron Burke thinks she has plenty left in the tank and I wouldn’t take her lightly.
2 CENTURION ATM – Got off to a slow start this season but he appears to be on track following back to back top two results. Trace Tetrick is aboard for the second outing and he will be one to watch out for over the final quarter. Svanstedt has done well in this event and sends out three starters.


3 WINGS OF ROYALTY – Started the year with a bang with a sub-1:52 score at the Meadowlands, but seemed to have some issues after that race, losing his edge. After a brief freshening, the son of RC Royalty came back strong in the Graduate Final, looking sound on the racetrack, only fading late. That might tighten him up for this week. He’s my price play.
4 HANNELORE HANOVER – Has done absolutely nothing wrong in 2016 and deserves her shot against the boys. She has flashed speed on both ends and has looked good doing it. She’s a formidable opponent to her male rivals on Saturday.
9 MUSICAL RHYTHM – Was flat-out awesome last week in the Graduate. He was hung wide early, took a lead, gave it up in a speedy third panel, and came back on to win in a romp. If I wasn’t price shopping he’d be my top choice.
2 CENTURION ATM – It appears he has found his footing in 2016. Last week’s nice close is hopefully signaling he’s ready to contend in these types of races. He has always had talent.


4 HANNELORE HANOVER – Another top Indiana-sired performer comes bursting onto the major stage, a winning machine for Team Burke draws inside for her Meadowlands debut. A $32,000 bargain and a $50,000 supplement was completely wrapped up in the Miami Valley Distaff and Armbro Flight in a Canadian record 1:51 at Mohawk. Connections believe she can trot in 1:49.
9 MUSICAL RHYTHM – Excellent drive paid off with a career best 1:51.2 from post 10 for Campbell’s second straight Graduate Trot. $33,000 buy with Breeders Crown champions on both sides, turned into a WEG circuit terror, winning his first nine starts this year for Team Baillargeon. Gets a bit steppy on the turns, and needs another quick start from post nine to stay on a roll.
7 CRAZY WOW – Fresh from a million-dollar campaign at three for Team Burke, evidently over his early season breaking issues, stretched out and regained his winning form in an overnight here last week. Thrives when he is forwardly placed either on or near the lead and ready for a serious test for stamina from a demanding post.
5 CRESCENT FASHION – Hats off to Ake Svanstedt for sending out a trio of longshot contenders, and this one may be best of the three. Solid runner up in back-to-back legs of the Graduate before the recent sick scratch. Second try off that point with Scott Zeron possibly a few weeks away from his first Big M driving title.

SAM MCKEE – SELECTIONS: 4 – 7 – 9 – 3

4 HANNELORE HANOVER – The Burke brigade ponying up $50,000 to supplement this monster mare against the boys shows just how much they think of her and how confident they must be. Has literally destroyed her distaff rivals and I see no reason she can’t keep right on rolling Saturday. They get their supplement money back if she’s third or better. We’re leaning toward better.
7 CRAZY WOW – Can win this race if on his best game. Really had no chance chasing from the back off a slow half in the Cutler and didn’t have enough money earned in the Graduate to get into that final.
9 MUSICAL RHYTHM – Have to respect a horse that can get passed on the turn and battle back in the stretch to win like he did in the Graduate final last week. Overcame an outside post, as well. Loves to win and it’s hard to imagine him not pushing off the wings for position.
3 WINGS OF ROYALTY – Did some serious work in the middle stages of the Graduate final, but tired late. Looks like he has the speed to outkick his two inside rivals off the wings. With a wait, rate and rally strategy and some White Knight magic, he could be a factor for a share.

Race 11 – Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace

BOB HEYDEN – SELECTIONS: 3 – 4 – 6 – 4

3 CONTROL THE MOMENT – Uncorked an eye-popping final 3/16ths last week opening the eyes of anyone not quite sure about his ability — like me. The 67 per cent lifetime winner set his lifetime mark last week too, with tank on “Full” while finishing. Sears has only one Pace win on the bio — 2005 with Rocknroll Hanover — and can become the fifth driver to win the Meadowlands Pace the year after capturing the Hambletonian.
4 RACING HILL – Is the “now” horse and took the bye last week. He’s wicked fast off the gate and Tony Alagna has been here before, winning in 2013 with Captaintreacherous. Tom Hill from the UK has the horse to beat here, and Brett Miller is poised for his Pace moment.
6 BOSTON RED ROCKS – Is the defending freshman champion, but so far in 2016 has been efficient but not spectacular. But, the only horse in the field with both the driver and the trainer with multiple Pace trophies. Steve Elliott won this in 2006 (Artistic Fella) and 2009 (Well Said) and Tim Tetrick is an astounding four-for-nine with a chance to win his fifth Meadowlands Pace prior to turning 35.
4 LYONS SYNDER – Was a solid second in the prep for this and looks to get Dave Miller his first Meadowlands Pace the same year he won his first North America Cup (Betting Line is not Pace eligible). Part-owner Jeff Snyder has seven combined trophies between the NA Cup (four) and the Meadowlands Pace (three)


3 CONTROL THE MOMENT – Didn’t look like he was going to reach last week, but he unleashed an eye-catching rally over the final eighth to get up. He finally lands in a good post with the big money on the line and I’m looking for him to take full advantage. Brian Sears will look for his second Pace title.
4 RACING HILL – Is arguably the second best colt in the Glamour Boys division right now and will aim to keep the ball rolling with his third straight win. His connections opted for the bye into this final and that could pay off as he was able to freshen up. He should be right there.
9 CHECK SIX – Overcame a slow start in the elim to nab fourth with a strong final quarter rally when adding Lasix. He could be eyeing a quicker beginning tonight and is one I see challenging for the ticket. This is one of three chances for trainer Ron Burke to earn his first Pace title.
8 JK WILL POWER – Has only raced on the Grand Circuit this year over his past three outings where he’s managed to hit the board each time. He’s quick off the gate to gain position and can fight right to the wire. He’s in good hands with Gingras at the helm and could crack the ticket.


5 LYONS SNYDER – Looks to avenge his no-chance trip in the North America Cup with a nice one here, and I think he may get it. The Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace field does not look as deep as in year’s past and I expect him to be near the front, and tighter than he was in his elimination. I think he’s an excellent price play.
4 RACING HILL – Is the now horse in the sophomore division. After having a little trouble at race speed early in the year — not uncommon for young horses — he’s been virtually unbeatable the last few weeks. He should be the controlling speed and will be tough to pace by.
3 CONTROL THE MOMENT – Was the wow horse in his elimination, but I think that was overblown. He got a covered trip with a :55.2 back half to close into, and others looked to be not near their best. He’s a super-nice horse, but I think he’ll be overbet, and I will leave him off the top two slots.
9 CHECK SIX – Like my third choice, had a slow back half to close into last week so the running line probably flatters him, but he looked great doing it. That strong finish will probably give driver Matt Kakaley a license to be more aggressive in the final.


3 CONTROL THE MOMENT – O’Brien Award winner has been the victim of post position blues this season, but added Brian Sears and absolutely exploded to a new mark of 1:49.2 to take the single elimination from post nine. Sears noted he was very relaxed and another stalking trip may be imminent. Possibly the fifth Metro winner to take the Pace, and post three has produced five Pace winners, including his sire Well Said. Could be a Real Desire-like turnaround with the switch to The White Knight, who won the 2005 edition with Rocknroll Hanover.
4 RACING HILL – Fresh and hot, and from the first crop of 2011 Pace champ Roll With Joe, and has emerged as Tony Alagna’s top colt. Rested taking the bye and romped to a career best 1:49 in the Hempt. Brett Miller said he didn’t have to pop the earplugs and he’s very handy. Runner up in the North America Cup after a making a miscue and Alagna made shoeing adjustments. Alagna loves his demeanor and reaped Pace glory in 2013 with Captaintreacherous. Wiggle It Jiggleit won last year’s Pace from post four.
9 CHECK SIX – Team Burke’s best colt after battling through a chronic foot infection at two, came to prominence winning the Pennsylvania Classic back on May 7. Added Lasix, forced wide coming from last and finished strong in the Pace elimination. Capable of blasting off, settling in for a trip or could create some mayhem.
6 BOSTON RED ROCKS – Last year’s champion colt hasn’t quite broken through this season, while still racing competitively. Too far back in the North America Cup, shuffled in the Hempt Final and conservatively handled in the Pace Elimination. Banks on a speed target. Steve Elliott goes for his third Pace, and Tetrick guns for his fifth Pace in 10 tries.

SAM MCKEE – SELECTIONS: 5 – 4 – 3 – 6

5 LYONS SNYDER – No question he’s a fast horse who can carry his speed. Got roughed up in a cutthroat pace duel in the North America Cup Final and may actually move forward off the elimination start which he probably needed. Dave Miller is in a great groove driving right now and whenever he steps on the gas, this colt will go. Slight upset selection.
4 RACING HILL – Has earned a ton of respect with his dead-game runner-up effort in the NA Cup and was never threatened in the Hempt final. Alagna and company showed their confidence in him taking a bye into the elimination and showing their willingness to risk a poor position. Can do it on the lead, stalking or rallying and Brett Miller has plenty of options with his main rivals on either side at the start.
3 CONTROL THE MOMENT – That was some vicious kick he showed in the last 100 yards to win the elimination. More importantly, it was the perfect trip to braven him back up after being used hard in the NA Cup and Hempt finals. Tremendous raw talent in the right spot and the right hands.
6 BOSTON RED ROCKS – Has been right there with the top colts but hasn’t quite had the punch to outpace them recently. Had what I thought were some slight traffic issues up the inside in the stretch last week. Certainly seems to figure on the gimmick tickets.

Race 12 – Golden Girls

BOB HEYDEN – SELECTIONS: 10 – 11 – 2 – 7

10 KATIE SAID – Nobody benefits more from the added distance on any of the stakes finals more than Katie Said. The daughter of 2009 Pacer Of The Year and Pace winner Well Said, she finishes her races like a runaway locomotive, and that was actually her undoing in the 2015 Breeders Crown or she would be coming into this race as the defending Crown champion. Use her confidently on all tickets.
11 SOLAR SISTER – For the father/son tandem of Gregg/Doug McNair. Gregg, at midweek, was about $35,000 from the $40 million milestone lifetime (by USTA accounting). Solar Sister was third in the Roses Are Red and is some $10,000 from $750,000 lifetime. She looms as a real contender in what might turn out to be an advantageous starting spot.
2 VENUS DELIGHT – The Breeders Crown favorite qualified in good form indicating readiness. Team Bamond love this race — and remember, too, that her last pari-mutuel start was a win, so the freshening up for the past five weeks was with this race in mind.
7 INITTOWINAFORTUNE – I know 0-for-19 is not going to cut it here. But, she is the fastest female in the sport off the wings, and lately she’s been hanging tough come payoff time.

CHAD ROZEMA – SELECTIONS: 5 – 2 – 10 – 12

5 LADY SHADOW – Scored her third straight win last time and has regained top form since rejoining the Ron Adams outfit. She’s a versatile mare but will likely remain forwardly placed from this post. Canadian invaders have won two of the past five editions of this race so I will back her on top.
2 VENUS DELIGHT – Didn’t have her best day in the Roses Are Red elim, but she’s bounced back with two strong lines. She will likely appreciate this starting spot over the second tier, which she drew in each of her past two added distance events here. I’m expecting to hear from her late.
10 KATIE SAID – Draws another 10-hole in a rich final and will be hoping to see more action up front than she did in the Roses Are Red. She finished fast for second in her tune-up for this event to give her confidence a boost. A good trip can have her in play.
12 ANNDROVETTE – The ageless wonder will be looking to successfully defend her title in this event. It will be tough for her to work her way to the front from the second tier and she could be on the move early. She’s two for two at the distance and always seems to come up big in the marquee events.

DEAN TOWERS – SELECTIONS: 10 – 5 – 8 – 4

10 KATIE SAID – Has had almost no chance to win her last few, because she’s been in impossible spots. With post 10 we may see a replay of those tough trips in the Golden Girls but at the price she will land at post time, we’ll swing. She’s very sharp and much better than her lines show.
5 LADY SHADOW – Deserves favoritism, but with a long stretch along with her propensity to drift in the lane, I think she’s vulnerable.
8 FROST DAMAGE BLUES – Is a lovely mare, who shows signs she can jump into the deep end of the pool against these world class older mares. She exemplified prodigious talent last year, and this season seems fast, confident and looks like a real bearcat.
4 DEVIL CHILD – Raced very well in the Fan Hanover and was really the only mare moving forward at the wire. Driver David Miller will no doubt have her in a better spot this time against a similar group.


5 LADY SHADOW – The “now” horse in this often wide-open division romped to her second straight Roses Are Red at Mohawk in a career best 1:48.1 on a night when the front end wasn’t too kind. Then kicked home in a crisp :26.2 as a perfect tune up for this. The midpack draw in a bulky field gives her some options, yet she does thrive when in control and there’s not a lot of serious speed in here.
2 VENUS DELIGHT – The 2015 Dan Patch Award winner sparked the second half of her season with a rousing score in the Betsy Ross at Harrah’s Philadelphia. Rallied to win at Mohawk on Roses Are Red Night with a :26.2 to vault past $1 million, then won a qualifier here with a :26.4 sprint. Gets another inside draw and seems prepped for a top effort. Seventh from post 11 last year behind stablemate Androvette, who pulled a 36-1 upset from post 10.
11 SOLAR SISTER – Ontario Sires Stakes product has quickly graduated to the open ranks this season. Scored fresh out of the box in the Sam Noble III Memorial at Miami Valley, upsetting Yagonnakissmeornot. A solid third in the Roses Are Red and just missed to Lady Shadow last out. Only needs to find a way out of second tier city to contend again.
3 DIVINE CAROLINE – 2015 Dan Patch Award winner has finally come around in her last two here against inferior competition. Now that Joe Holloway has her figured out, she can push off from an inside post and stalk the speed. This Breeders Crown champion rallied to win the Tarport Hap here last November at a mile and one eighth.

SAM MCKEE – SELECTIONS: 5 – 10 – 12 – 8

5 LADY SHADOW – Would like to get cute and go for a bomb in the mandatory Jackpot Super Hi5, but this mare has been dominant lately at Mohawk. She can win on the lead or from off the pace. Tends to drift out in the stretch, but she does it fast. Gingras is back up and is a master at using as little horse as possible to get to the lead.
10 KATIE SAID – A ruthless rallier who is always rolling late. That being said, the lack of early speed makes her pace dependent. Here’s another case where the mile-and-am-eighth could benefit her with more time to settle into position on a straightaway.
12 ANNDROVETTE – The defending champion loves the Meadowlands and sits right on the back of stablemate Venus Delight at the start. She’s like the female Foiled Again… tough as nails if she can lean on the leaders. Tetrick’s choice over Venus Delight.
8 FROST DAMAGE BLUES – Big step up in class, but she is both fresh and sharp right now. Loves to win and paced in 1:50.4 in a qualifier despite being bothered and checked briefly in the stretch. Draws in off the also eligible list, but is hard to leave off the bottom of Jackpot Super Hi5 tickets.

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