In the Open I handicap for pacers Nov. 4, Joe Offutt’s Hickory Aloha, a mainstay at Rosecroft, was in front until all but the final yards where he was collared by Rock N’ Roll Jet, who won by a neck. It was yet another strong effort by the classy 6-year-old gelding who is having a fine meet—without a victory.
A winner of more than $230,000 who has been first, second or third 56.5% of the time in 152 starts, Hickory Aloha now has five second-place finishes during the fall meet with a combined losing margin of less than three lengths in those efforts. He has been worse than second twice—opening night and on Oct. 14 when he was first-up through a sizzling three-quarter mile split and finished fifth.
Consistency pays, however. When horses that competed in the Maryland Sire Stakes are eliminated from the list of earnings for the meet, Hickory Aloha is third with $15,600 in purse money, which puts him third behind Al’s Hammered, who twice beat him by a neck, and J P Oscar, a four-time winner who has been worse than third only once in seven starts.
Hickory Aloha has raced every week in the Open I pace—minus the night the lights went out and the race was canceled—during the meet and to driver Tim Offutt’s credit has managed to get a very good trip in almost every race. He took his mark of 1:50 2/5 at Rosecroft earlier this year, and it’s only a matter of time before he gets a much-deserved victory.
Here’s a look at several races on the Wednesday, Nov. 7, program:
Beckett Hanover rode the pylons to a couple of even finishes in his last two starts after missing more than a month and drops to the bottom-level money condition tonight. The pole position can only help in a race with very little early speed, at least on paper, and his 14% win rate in 2018 is the best in the field.
All but one of the nine entered in this bottom-level condition trot exit the same Oct. 31 race in which the tempo was methodical after a quick opening quarter-mile. The winner, Bella Chippie, moves from post 1 last week to post 9 tonight, while the second-place finisher, Tzar, who sat the pocket behind the winner most of the way, retains post 5. The lone newcomer is Happy That, who earned his maiden victory two starts back in Chester, Pa., and probably isn’t overmatched in this bunch.
Cedar Hall Heiress drops a couple of classes after making a strong first-up challenge versus eventual winner Hillbilly Jet, who took over early and never looked back in a sharp 1:52 4/5 mile last week. She’ll probably have to come from off the pace again here but a better trip may be all that’s needed; Frank Milby, who won with her two starts back at Rosecroft, is named to drive.