East Rutherford, NJ — The end of the calendar year is less than two months away, and harness racing’s biggest equine prize, Horse of the Year, is still up for grabs.
Shartin N got nosed out by McWicked for the honor a year ago, and Jo Ann Looney-King, who along with her husband Jim King Jr., trains the 6-year-old daughter of Tintin In America-Bagdarin, is hoping to end the season on a high note at The Meadowlands on Nov. 23 and take home the trophy.
“We plan on being there for the TVG Mare Pace,” said Joann. “We are going to prep at Dover on Nov. 13 if the race fills. I want (Horse of the Year) so bad, but she has to win. That’s what the voters want.”
“He probably won’t race anymore,” said trainer Marcus Melander. “He will go to Hanover now to stand stud.”
Breeders Crown winners Warrawee Ubeat and Manchego (who will be at the Big M Nov. 8), as well as Bettor’s Wish, who leads all harness horses in 2019 earnings with just over $1.4 million, may have a chance at HOTY. It was announced yesterday by trainer Chris Ryder that Bettor’s Wish will be back on the track next year at age 4.
The Great Eight: There will be eight huge stakes events at The Meadowlands on TVG/Fall Final 4 Night on Nov. 23. Two-year-olds will be in the spotlight in the $470,000 Goldsmith Maid (filly trot), $400,000 Three Diamonds (filly pace), $400,000 Valley Victory (colt trot) and $490,000 Governor’s Cup (colt pace) before some of the biggest equine stars in the game will be in action in the TVG Mare Trot (for a purse of $175,000), TVG Mare Pace ($175,000), TVG Open Trot ($350,000) and TVG Open Pace ($350,000).
Saturday Night’s All Right: The action on the track was hot last Saturday at the Big M, as El Ideal (male trot, 1:53.1), Senorita Rita (filly trot, 1:53.2), Marloe Hanover (filly pace, 1:50.3) and Force N Fury (male pace, 1:50.2) were the winners in the four Kindergarten Classic finals for 2-year-olds.
It was also a big night at the windows, as meet bests were reached in total handle ($2,730,886) as well as the 50-cent Pick-4 pool total ($93,922). A carryover of $19,326 led to a total pool of $127,120 in the 50-cent Pick-5.
Happy Days: Not only are things well at The Meadowlands, but in the entire harness racing industry as well:
• The Big M is enjoying the benefits of a purse supplement with increased handle
• A huge Hambletonian Day, where all-source wagering topped $8 million
• Two weeks ago, Breeders Crown weekend at Woodbine Mohawk Park saw wagering that exceeded $6.6 million
• The Standardbred Horse Sale’s opening session (on Nov. 4) set a record for average price and saw its gross increase by more then $3 million as compared to last year.
At The Track: DerbyWars will host regular online qualifiers for the World Harness Handicapping Championship every Saturday night. Players can qualify for as little as $22. Complete information is available at DerbyWars.com.
Every week, card players can get in on the action on “Free Poker Fridays” in the Gallery. Games begin at 7 p.m.
“Hockey Night” is this Saturday (Nov. 9). Come on out and get an autograph and take photos (starting at 6:30 p.m.) with former players Brian Propp (of the Philadelphia Flyers), Bruce Driver (New Jersey Devils) and Nick Fotiu (New York Rangers). In addition, you could walk away with some great memorabilia.