Melissa Keith’s Rideau Carleton Selections: Sunday, December 20, 2020

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Melissa Keith’s Rideau Carleton Selections: Sunday, December 20, 2020

December 20, 2020
By Melissa Keith
Melissa Keith’s Rideau Carleton Selections: Sunday, December 20, 2020
Best Bet   – (4) – AVATAR J – Race 6
Spot Play – (2) – DR SPENGLER – Race 4
20-cent Early Pick 4 – Race 3 – 3,5/2,7,9/2,9/4,5 = $4.80
20-cent Late Pick 4 – Race 7 – 3,4/2,3,4,7,9/3,7,8/1 = $6.00
20-cent Late Late Pick 4 - Race 12 – 1,6/5,8/1,5,7/1,3 = $4.80


Race 1 – (4) FESTIVE JOE followed in single-file fourth Dec. 13, looking ready to follow a first-over Zaidans Luck (#1 this race) when that rival stepped out; caught between a three-wide Swing Dali Swing and Little Willy (#5 here), Robert Robinson's pacer had few options when Zaidans Luck stalled in the last turn; maiden is pacing 1:57-zone miles with regularity at Rideau Carleton. (9) STILETTO BLUE CHIP left hard early and defended her lead on the first turn at Mohawk Dec. 7, her most recent pari-mutuel start; two-year-old John MacMillan trainee followed third on the rail until making a first-over move at top of the stretch, only to fade badly; her Ottawa debut represents a major class drop; note driver change from MacMillan to Pascal Berube, and her impressive Rideau qualifier Nov. 29. (7) TWO FOR TRIPPING has only missed board once in four career starts, all at this venue for trainer Mandy Archer/driver Guy Gagnon; post hurts, as does the fact that front-end-loving horses had exactly three of fifteen victories here when using that style Dec. 13, none from a post this far out.
 
Race 2 – (6) DANCE MACHINE has found his groove, chasing his fourth Ottawa win in a row tonight; front-end type has been widening his victory margin every week, and retains driver Tyler Jones. (3)  MACH JACOBS overcame interference at the start, plus post #8, to win at Hippodrome 3R in his last start, Nov. 15; Pascal Berube stays aboard strong closer; hasn't raced since his Nov. 22 scratch, which was due to illness. (2)  REMY AURORA is climbing class ladder, yet she's outperformed her odds in two December starts over this track; Stephane Pouliot remains with filly who has hit board in 75% of her 12 seasonal starts.
 
Race 3 – (5) BIG PETES STYLE is Guy Gagnon's star who leads all North American harness horses this year by wins (17); wired rivals at similar level here Dec. 13. (3) STATE NEWS disappointed as a top-choice selection last week; class drop tonight for pacer who had closed in a field's-fastest 29.2 for fifth against Rideau Nw4000l3cd company Dec. 6; tipping from sixth to go first over at the half Dec. 13, he and Ryan Guy were momentarily three-wide and ended up completely surrounded at the top of the stretch, as Xternal tired directly in front of him and closers swept past. (4)  GUINNESS PANIC is one of several here who looks ready to close for show; trainer Ted McDonald drives recent Hippodrome 3R invader who was advancing second-over from fourth at the half Dec. 13, ending up fourth to Big Petes Style as a first-up Dylans Bank (#7 tonight) stalled.
 
Race 4 – (2) DR SPENGLER makes third consecutive start with Lasix, a week after disappointing as a top-choice pick in Dec. 6 Rideau Carleton "not listed" Preferred; note that he still closed in 28.4 (!); also closed for show when selected as spot play Nov. 29; three 2020 victories at Mohawk, most recently in $15,000 claiming handicap August 14 for Richard Moreau, who still-co-owns with current conditioner Yannick Martel; Pascal Berube stays loyal, again. (7) ACE BI can handle extended overland trips from outside posts; he was second as beaten 8/5 fave Dec. 6, chasing winner Seeyou Men (#8 tonight) in a long, game first-over effort. (9) CROSSFIT crossed over and made front at the half Dec. 13, after leaving from post #8 and working his way to front in a wide early move for Pascal Berube (who's aboard #2 Dr Spengler tonight); front-end trips only worked out in three races that 15-race card, and his was not one of them; tired and caught by closers, but classy four-year-old lands post position from which more horses (eight) hit board than any other Rideau post position last Sunday.
 
Race 5 – (2) VEGAS ROCKS enjoys class relief from helpful post; no National Debt, no Racemup, no excuses. (9) ATOMIC MILLION AM is down in class on second start after arrival from Hippodrome 3R; Richard Simard keeps catch drive on Alain Martin's homebred with a 50/50 record of hitting board at Rideau this season, and a 50/50 record of doing so in Preferred/Preferred Handicap. (5) ASHLEYSBEST has been dangerously overlooked in recent Rideau starts; class climb for four-year-old who has hit board in 65% of his 17 tries this year; closed for show in field's-fastest last quarter (29.1) at Nw4000l3cd classification Dec. 13.
 
Race 6 – (4) AVATAR J is back in the hands of Stephane Brosseau, who drove the ten-time 2020 winner to his last victory, Nov. 15 at lesser Nw4200l3cd classification, from same post position as tonight; Mandy Archer trainee caught a pacesetting Luke and Duke (#7 tonight) at the wire in that effort; also defeated both Vanilla Malted and National Debt in Oct. 11 Rideau Carleton "not listed" Preferred Handicap...from post #4; better from off the pace. (5)  VANILLA MALTED is winningest of this group, and starts from winningest Dec. 13 post position; assigned post #7 at Preferred level didn't agree with the John MacMillan trainee, who was riding a three-race win streak coming into the race; closed from too far back to make an impact, but in a 28.1 last quarter that holds promise. (6) NATIONAL DEBT is always a serious contender; twice a beaten fave when assigned post #8 this month, his versatility makes him a threat from better post.
 
Race 7 – (4) ASA IM READY is down in class from Ottawa Nw3000l3cd; beaten 2/5 fave was fifth Dec. 6 for Stephane Brosseau, who stays with seven-time 2020 winner; stalking in third along pylons through "huge fractions" to the half, she lacked racing room in final quarter, as Sir Chopin drew clear of the rest. (3) RAISING RUSTY has been better-gaited in last three trips with Stephane Pouliot, his results also improving up to his Dec. 13 victory; his 13/1 win price was undoubtedly influenced by his history of breaks; up in class. (5) RICHSNORTHERNDREAM has shown strong form, winning from the #8 hole for Guy Gagnon and Mandy Archer at Rideau Nw2r30000lcd level Dec. 6.
 
Race 8 – Liked (3) CARWINS SMORE Dec. 6, although not to win; had been over his head class-wise or dealing with post #8 many weeks; $7,000 claimer faces mild class hike this race, however his best recent result was a place finish on step up to Nw450pscd classification Nov. 19; he cut the mile that race, only caught by closer Pantheon Seelster in deep stretch; won $12,000 Hard Rock Summer Claiming Series Consolation earlier this season at Rideau Carleton. (9) GOOD EYE HAWKEYE retains Pascal Berube; faces similar class, and lands trailing post that produced eight top-three finishes in 15 races last Sunday at Rideau (there was no #9 horse in two races); winless in 2020 but improved show result in second consecutive start here last Sunday, on the class jump. (7) NIGHT CLUB HANOVER has class relief from tough post; couldn't quite carry his speed all the way Dec. 6, when he set pace but ended up second; lost ground late in his individual 1:55.4 show effort Dec. 13. (4) ST LADS CASH hasn't won since August 23, when he used stalking tactics to secure the 1:53.1 victory at this track; driver change to Stephane Brosseau evokes interest. (2)  ST LADS CAPTAIN won here Dec. 13 for owner/trainer/driver Darcy Clancy; the Nw200pscd classification suited the former Mohawk pacer, who's capable of repeating in a well-matched field.
 
Race 9 – (8) SASKABUSH STEVE with class relief and driver change to Guy Gagnon intrigues; his only Rideau victory was Oct. 9, stalking pacesetter Mickeymaksomespeed from post #6 for Stephane Pouliot; his best recent chance to repeat; stalking trip Nov. 26 resulted in place finish with Pouliot in the bike, but a non-contender when taken back to last early Dec. 13. (7)  SHRIMP AND GRITS and Tyler Jones haven't missed top three at this track since their dead-heat win together Nov. 26. (3) GENERAL LEE has been sharp lately, winning from off the pace Dec. 13; that field contained most of the same group he faces tonight, but neither Saskabush Steve nor Shrimp and Grits was in the race.
 
Race 10 – (1) LUNAR LAUNCH wired Rideau Carleton Nw1r7500lcd pacers Nov. 26 for Richard Simard; the maiden-breaking 1:56.1 win was followed up with a class jump and post #8, so it's easy to like him as the three-year-old returns to better post with Simard staying loyal. (3)  WILD RIVER COYOTEE returns to a favoured inside post, from which Guy Gagnon won with this field's winningest (four wins) horse this year, Nov. 5 at Nw1r9300l classification; front-end winners were scarce last Sunday, so judge accordingly. (6) COOL HAND LUCAN broke maiden at this venue Nov. 26; four-year-old was a beaten fave (leading into stretch, but ending up fourth) Dec. 13 when taking overland route with a different driver; Ryan Guy returns to the sulky here, as Richard Simard, who drove him to his one victory, apparently chose Lunar Launch.
 
Race 11 – (6) DEJA VU SEELSTER left Rideau Carleton for Mohawk after a show finish here Oct. 22; class drop for filly with four early-season Rideau victories at varied classifications. (8)  KOLOY DM had post #7 in her last race, at Rideau distaff Nw1350l3cd level, and was taken back to third-last off the gate; this made for a third-over trip from the half, as she picked up cover after tipping out for Pascal Berube; three-wide bid from last at the three-quarters only took her to fifth, but in field's-second-fastest final quarter (29 flat); tough post again, but with different trip, she's able. (9) SHEMAKSMEFELUNREAL is one of two drives for Steeven Genois here on this card; stalking trips by this filly have already given her a win and a show in two Rideau starts this month.
 
Race 12 – (6) BARRYS SHELBY closed for fourth in traffic Dec. 13, a beaten 2/1 fave; his only 2020 Ontario win was Oct. 1 at Flamboro, but he was covered and shuffled "loaded with pace but nowhere to go", in the words of John MacMillan; Pascal Berube stays with him to try again. on class drop this week. (1) KEYSTONE PRESTIGE hasn't missed Rideau board since his Nov. 22 place finish; earned third win of season Dec. 13 with four-wide move at top of stretch for catch driver Stephane Brosseau; won from rail Oct. 29 for another driver, and from post #5 for Brosseau Feb. 23. (2)  MITT JAGGER enjoys major class/post relief; Ryan Guy aboard another week.
 
Race 13 – (5) THE MAGIC OF LIFE is up in class but looks to be closing in on a win for Robert Robinson; tough trip but held on for place when collared late by (8) UNDERCOVER STRIKE and Guy Gagnon; the 12-year-old's comeback is going strong, with back-to-back off-the-pace victories from outer post positions; win margin diminished when starting from further out last week, so he's potentially more vulnerable now. (9)  ANGELS KID gets class drop but also a second-tier post from which just one trotter has won at Rideau this year; didn't care for Western Fair trailing post in Preferred Dec. 9, but he's back in rein to regular driver Tyler Jones over his home track tonight.
 
Race 14 – (7) BROOKLETSJUSTIFIED is top pick in a race with few consistent resumes; a Rideau Carleton Nw1250l3cd winner Nov. 15 for Robert Robinson, he's been pacing progressively faster recent miles and better results; closed in 28.2 for show last week, suggesting further improvement possible despite unhelpful post. (1) MYBROTHERGEORGE closed for show as beaten 3/2 fave Dec. 6, when down in class with Richard Simard in sulky; gained ground late in his Nov. 22 and 29 starts, and seemed likely to take down pacesetter/s, although he looked unimpressive when deployed from third on the rail in the stretch, in most recent start, under visible urging. (5)  BS TYRRIFIC added his eighth victory of 2020, the first over this track, Dec. 13; half-mile track regular stalked Macho Polo (#4 this race) and overtook him late.
 
Race 15 – (1) SENIOR K finished just a neck back of Sin City Shark in Rideau Carleton 10000clm event Dec. 13, also from rail; beaten 3/5 fave had his win streak snapped at four, but could avenge loss tonight. (3) MATTS TUITION won for Guy Gagnon from this post Dec. 6; closed for show from second tier last Sunday. (6) TOO MUCH DUNCAN has been fourth in three consecutive 10000clm efforts at this track; deceptive pacer who earned just one of his six 2020 victories at Rideau, back on Sept. 17, and has been losing ground late. (8) BADSTORMANYPORT draws poorly, but nearly wired Ottawa 7000clm company last Sunday. (9)  MACH LEE finished sixth for Tyler Jones in their last effort from trailing post, Nov. 19; they bounced back with same-level Nw450pscd win Nov. 26.

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Melissa Keith is a lifelong harness handicapper/bettor, Hervey/O'Brien Media Excellence Award-winning writer, and occasional racecaller. She is a contributor to TROT, Hoof Beats, Atlantic Post Calls, and Harness Racing Update, often covering topics related to wagering. Her most memorable bets include taking down the Truro Raceway Pick-7 pool for a $36 investment (it has not been offered since) and collecting $1,287 for a Woodbine Harness Pick-4 which cost a whopping $1.60.

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