Classifying races isn’t as simple as it used to be for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact it was common for harness tracks to race five or six programs a week because the horse population, and an appetite for betting, warranted such schedules.
Harness tracks had stable areas—and therefore a captive group of horses a racing secretary could count on to fill the entry box each week. And with so many Standardbreds in the Mid-Atlantic region and so many racing opportunities, horses based at one track frequently raced elsewhere on any given week.
The advent of racetrack gaming in the early to mid-1990s changed the dynamic, in part because legislation that authorized it was generally predicated on “redevelopment” of the racing and breeding industry in specific states. So in order to meet the intent of the law, the use of in-state preferences became common in racing conditions in the region.
Such is the case in Maryland. Pete Hanley, the racing secretary at Rosecroft, said there are two primary objectives when it comes to filling races twice a week.
“The main thing is to take care of getting the Maryland horses raced—that’s the number one objective,” he said. “The number two objective is putting on competitive races. And I think the drivers here help a lot in making for good races.”
Statistics from this year’s winter/spring meet at Rosecroft indicate that objectives were met—37 trainers had four or more wins, 25 had five or more wins, and seven had 10 or more wins. Five of the top seven trainers by wins had 100 or more starts during the meet.
Hanley, a native of Maine, is in his fifth year as Rosecroft racing secretary. He indicated that horsemen are more engaged in looking for races for their horses than they were decades ago. “My dad raced horses in Maine, and it used to be he’d call the racing secretary and just say, ‘Put them in, put them in.’ As I learned more about it as a kid, I’d say, ‘Dad, you need to pick your spots.’ Most of the guys here are from Maryland, and it looks like everybody is making money.”
Here’s a look at several races on the Sunday, Oct. 7 program at Rosecroft:
The “races won” condition events have been fairly strong thus far at the meet, and this one continues the trend. J P Oscar has impressed in his three starts for the Powell barn since his arrival from Ohio and steps up in class yet again. He’s only 4 years old, and sometimes it pays to stick with a horse until it shows it has hit its ceiling; don’t think that has happened yet locally. Boot Leg defeated J P Oscar two starts back and was a good second in this class last week in a fast mile; yet another horse that was happy to get off the half-miler at the shore.
Beammeupscottie in three starts at the meet has been coming home well but faced a tall order against Abelard Hanover and, last week, a sharp winner in Yankee Heaven (Race 12 tonight). He drops down one condition and moves inside, which may be all it takes.
The nine horses entered in this bottom condition event have won a combined three races in 2018, and one of them, Talbot Redneck, is 14 years old, but he did win at Rosecroft in 1:55 and still has a touch of early speed. Eight-year-old Metro Angel won in 1:59 3/5 at Ocean Downs, while Going The Distance shows a win in 2:00 on a half-miler in New York. The latter, a 3-year-old, has faced J P Oscar and Boot Leg in his last two starts at the “non-winners of 3 pari-mutuel races lifetime” level, including last time out with a nice closing quarter in a 1:53 1/5 mile. Tough call from post 8 but he should move up here.
Kotare Yael N, in his first local outing after spending the summer in upstate New York, made two moves to the lead in a major battle (:27 2/5 third quarter) with eventual winner Rocktavius (he steps up to the $12,000 open pace in Race 10) and had to settle for second—in 1:50 4/5. He doesn’t need the lead to win, and that could help given the potential for multiple leavers in what should be an excellent race.