The second Sunday program of the meet has an interesting twist. There were four claiming races ($4,000, $5,000, $7,500 and $10,000-$15,000) on the condition sheet and they all filled—even though the latter two required a minimum of seven horses. The claimers don’t carry a Maryland preference, so there are some new shooters on the local scene.
Also, some really nice horses are making their 2019 debuts, including stakes competitors Gaagaa Gone and Lindy’s Big Bang in the “winners over” trot (Race 8) and Sams Triple Crown in the Open Handicap pace (Race 10).
Here’s a look at several races on the Feb. 16 program:
Its Outta Here and Bluebird Ideal both exit tougher races at Rosecroft one class level up from this one. The former hadn’t raced since mid-December and may have needed his first start of the winter/spring meet; leading driver Milby gets the call and seems to get the most out of this 10-year-old gelding. The latter stalled first-up through a quick third-quarter-mile and dropped back on the final turn but his best efforts at Dover Downs earlier certainly measure up with this crew.
Half-brothers Concert Artist (8 years old) and No Concert (5 years old)—both out the mare Western Concert—returned off layoffs in good order at this level a week ago and both can pace a solid closing quarter; Concert Artist seems quicker off the gate and, on paper at least, doesn’t have much early speed inside of him.
Overnight Shipper trotted well enough to win in this “winners over” class here last week at 8-1 but ran into a buzz saw in gate-to-wire 1-9 winner Deacons Valley; he didn’t see the pylons through the opening quarter-mile and then was forced three-wide on the backstretch and far turn but still came home in :29 3/5 to finish a good second.
Two trotters to keep an eye on tonight, at the very least for future reference, return after long layoffs: Maryland Standardbred Breeders Association 3-year-old filly champion Gaagaa Gone, who will make her first start as a mare and was 13-for-18 in her first two seasons of racing, and 4-year-old gelding Lindy’s Big Bang, who faced the top 3-year-old trotters in the country last year and is now a member of the Richard Still barn.
Allie’s Finale didn’t see the pylons much in two outstanding efforts to start the winter/spring meet, and those races were from inside posts. He draws post 8 and moves up one class off of a victory but has the talent to do serious damage versus this group, most likely at much better odds.
The first $10,000-$15,000 claimer since who-knows-when at Rosecroft drew a full field and it’s a good one. Five of them have been competing at Dover but most have plenty of experience with the local surface. There are many ways to go here, and predicting the favorite is a challenge.
An intriguing entrant is Real Flight, who qualified well locally Jan. 30 and ended up with the 8-hole in the Open Handicap pace Feb. 10. He finished next-to-last—hardly a disgrace given the field—but paced a final quarter-mile in :28 3/5; Milby is named and he should go off at fair odds versus a legitimate group for this class.