Dan Patch Stakes Highlights Harness Racing Weekend in Midwest

By John Furgele

After a successful Hambletonian weekend at the Meadowlands, the best of harness racing moves to the Midwest this weekend with the Dan Patch Stakes at Hoosier Park (Indiana) on Friday, and the Carl Milstein Memorial Pace at Northfield Park (Ohio) on Saturday.

Leading off is the Dan Patch, featuring 10 pacers over the seven-eighths of a mile layout in Anderson, Indiana.

If you’re going to bet on a trainer, why not start with Ron Burke, who trains five of the starters. Of the five, Backstreet Shadow is performing best, with a record of 5-1-0 in 11 starts to go along with $243,666 in earnings.

Harness Racing History: First Pacing Mare Wins Horse of the Year

Harness Racing History: First Pacing Mare Wins Horse of the Year

Due to limited racing options in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, Backstreet Shadow is the only horse in the field with double digit starts. No other horse in the field has more than seven.

Filibuster Hanover is also one to watch. He was middling in his first four starts in 2020 and then, last week, on Hambo Day, he surprised when he stormed down the stretch to capture the Sam McKee Consolation in 1:49.2. He beat two horses — De Los Crielos Deo and Our Majordan A — and will have to beat them here to get to the winner’s circle.

As good as Filibuster was, the favorite will be Bettor’s Wish, who did Filibuster one better by winning the $229,000 Sam McKee at the Big M last Saturday in a sparkling 1:47.3. In that race, he rallied past Backstreet Shadow and Century Farroh and will square off against those once again. In fact, some might label the Dan Patch as Sam McKee II as four horses — Century Farroh, This Is The Plan, Backstreet Shadow and Dorsoduro Hanover (all beaten by Bettor’s Wish) — are taking him on Friday night.

This is where harness racing really gets exciting, especially with the older pacers. From now through the end of the year, there will be many races between them. One week, Bettor’s Wish looks like the horse to beat; the next, This Is The Plan or Backstreet Shadow grabs the spotlight.

This is an important race for a couple reasons. One is the $225,000 purse, and two, it gives the horses a chance to run a top level race on the same track that will host the Breeders Crown races at the end of October.

I shouldn’t reveal my bias, but of all the standardbreds, older pacers are my favorite. They’ve been around, they race often and because they know what they’re doing, produce fast times on the tracks. That should be the case here on what really is a great racetrack.

It’s a very tough race to handicap because they are all so close in ability and often take turns winning. I think Bettor’s Wish is talented enough to keep the momentum going to win again, with Backstreet Shadow and This Is The Plan rounding out my trifecta. As much as I like Filibuster Hanover, I’m not convinced his win last week was anything more than an aberration.  If you’re looking for a sleeper, Our Majordan A is your horse.

The field:

Post Horse Trainer 2020 Record
1 Schnitzledosomethin Dylan Davis 7: 2-0-2
2 Century Farroh Ian Moore 7: 1-4-1
3 Bettor’s Wish Chris Ryder 5: 2-0-2
4 This Is The Plan Ron Burke 5: 1-0-0
5 Workin Ona Mystery Brian Brown 5: 1-3-1
6 Backstreet Shadow Ron Burke 11: 5-1-0
7 Dorsoduro Hanover Ron Burke 7: 0-1-1
8 De Los Crielos Deo Ron Burke 6: 0-1-2
9 Filibuster Hanover Ron Burke 5: 1-0-1
10 Our Majordan A Virgil Morgan 5: 2-0-1

Carl Milstein Memorial Pace

On Saturday, the attention shifts to Northfield Park for the Carl Milstein Memorial Pace. This was a race that looked like it would be postponed this year due to COVID-19, but in the race is in its typical Saturday August slot.

Like the Dan Patch, this is an invitation and drew a full-field of eight 3-year old pacers on the quick half-mile track in Northeast Ohio. Catch The Fire is the deserving favorite. He’s coming off a convincing victory in the Adios when he cruised home in 1:49.3 over the sloppy Meadows track to win the $375,000 event. He has been under 1:50 in all five of his races and drew the rail for the track’s big event. And, on a half-mile oval, that’s important.

The race has some interesting angles. You have Slippin The Clutch, who is 7-0-0 in eight starts but has only earned $16,821. For local trainer Curtis Carey, this is a big step up in class.

Chief Mate is wildly inconsistent and comes in with 2-2-1 in seven starts and a nice bankroll of $145,000. He didn’t fire last week in the Cane Pace, finishing fourth, and because he seems to be on then off, it just might be his turn. Unfortunately, he drew the No. 7 post, which means he’ll have to fire early to get in good position and then hope he can slow things down in the second quarter.

He did beat Manticore (last week) who flattened out in the Cane stretch, but the slight drop in class here could work to his advantage here.

Elver Hanover, who had a great 2-year old is season is 1-1-1 in four starts and right now is the second choice in the morning line.

Catch The Fire took last week off and the favorable post should enable him to pick up 50 percent of the $250,000 purse, with Elver Hanover a close second. I think Chief Mate is good enough to get third.

It’s part of a 16-race card at Northfield Park and no track fills cards better than the place dubbed the “Home of the Flying Turns.” In the 16 races, all have eight or nine in each, which is nothing more than a typical evening at the 12-month track.

The field:

Post Horse Trainer 2020 Record
1 Catch The Fire John Ackley 5: 2-0-1
2 Odds On Osiris Melanie Wrenn 3: 1-2-0
3 Elver Hanover Ron Burke 4: 1-1-1
4 Stanford Court Brian Brown 6: 4-2-0
5 Slippin The Clutch Curtis Carey 8: 7-0-0
6 Manticore Bruce Saunders 6: 0-1-1
7 Chief Mate Tony Alagna 7: 2-2-1
8 Ocean Rock Christi Noble 6: 4-1-1