Best Bet – (4) – RACEMUP – Race 10
Spot Play – (2) – XTERNAL – Race 12
20-cent Early Pick 4 - Race 2 – 1,2,3,9/1,4/3,7/5 = $3.20
20-cent Middle Pick 4 - Race 6 – 1,2/4,7/2,4,7,9/3,4,6 = $9.60
20-cent Late Pick 4 - Race 10 – 4/4/2,4,5/3,9 = $1.20
Race 1 – (2) SIN CITY SHARK beat #1 Senior K in his last outing before racing's temporary shutdown; tonight's driver Marie Claude Auger was in the sulky for his Nov. 8 win at same classification, from same post; Brian Jerome Memorial Consolation winner recorded 4 of his 5 wins last season after moving to trainer Vic Puddy and racing at Rideau Carleton; often overlooked at windows. (6) MATTS TUITION and Guy Gagnon ended last year with a Rideau victory, shadowing the now-absent Too Much Duncan before a perfectly-timed late move; returns at same classification for this track's top driver and trainer of 2020. (1) SENIOR K likes the front end, but couldn't get there from inside post position in his last two previous starts; beaten fave in last two starts; he and Stephane Brosseau were unable to get the win in either case, in races won by tonight's #2 Sin City Shark and #6 Matts Tuition; last two wins were with Gagnon aboard.
Race 2 – (3) MORTGAGE MY VILLA finished third 12 times in 30 tries last season; light on wins, class-dropper teams up with Clarke Steacy to take on a vulnerable group where it's likely he can grab good early position near front the way he did at Rideau Carleton Oct. 22 at Nw420pscd level; post works to his advantage. (9) BET ON BRETT is class-dropper last seen racing at Flamboro; his fastest win of 2020 came against Rideau Nw850pscd pacers Sept. 13, wiring rivals in 1:53.2; second tier tonight for latest catch driver Ryan Guy. (2) TWOMACSONEMACH was claimed Dec. 14 and now makes return for Vic Puddy; second consecutive start with Lasix, albeit after a long layoff; showed some closing ability at 5/8-mile Oak Grove; has potential; up in class.
Race 3 – (4) PLAYIN FOR KEEPS is 13-year-old and closing in on a half-million dollars in lifetime earnings; on the shelf much of 2020, he qualified Dec. 20 after lengthy layoff in a six-start season; his last pari-mutuel race was a win as favourite for tonight's driver, Marie Claude Auger, March 15 over $7,000 claimers at Rideau Carleton. (1) KEYSTONE PRESTIGE was a frequent runner-up against similar here last year for Stephane Brosseau; late speed. (3) KAHLUA MORNING took her career best 1:54.4 at Rideau Carleton in capturing the 2020 Hard Rock Claiming Series second leg for Guy Gagnon and Mandy Archer; the mare went on to win the series final, yet disappointed in three December efforts at Rideau.
Race 4 – (3) CAMS LUCKY SAM gains class/post relief and catch driver Guy Gagnon; back at Nw400pscd level where he last hit board (despite interference) Dec. 13. (7) MACHO POLO struggled to hit board when starting from Rideau post #7 last season; class drop, but winless since last Oct. 4. (5) DALI ON UP is owned, trained and driven by Carol Voyer, who also owns/trains this race's top selection; class drop for gelding with some closing ability, but who's best 2020 results came at Hippodrome 3R.
Race 5 – (5) UNDERCOVER STRIKE went undefeated in three December starts, winning on the class climb and despite outside post assignments; powerful late kick for trainer/driver Guy Gagnon. (2) Y C BROADWAY has done best work at Rideau for Richard Simard, hitting board in most of their races since trotter became Ottawa regular Sept. 20. (6) ANGELS KID's most recent victories were for catch driver Tyler Jones; Marie Claude Auger gets the drive tonight; outside post raises questions.
Race 6 – (2) CROSSFIT had trailing post #9 in his last start before the temporary Rideau Carleton shutdown; second-over and three-wide on the last turn, he followed Lestenpercent to a fifth-place result, just a length-and-a-quarter behind winner LMC Mass Gem (#3 this race); still gaining at the wire in an effort that's better than it looks on paper; adds new catch driver Marie Claude Auger. (1) ESQUIRE arrives from Mohawk, where he last won, against Nw8000l5cd claimers, Nov. 28; closed strongly for fourth despite post #7 in his one 2020 Rideau Preferred start; class drop. (6) DR SPENGLER was improving when racing ended prematurely in December; Hippodrome 3R invader managed a pair of show finishes from off the pace for Pascal Berube; leaves Lasix here. (3) LMC MASS GEM tripped out in Ottawa Preferred Dec. 20, defending his early lead all the way to the wire over a "good" surface; recent tendency to lose ground at end of the mile. (4) PASADENA STAR showed week over week improvements in his three December starts at this track's Preferred levels; minor shares.
Race 7 – (4) REYS N A ROCKET didn't have much success at Mohawk or in the Western Fair distaff Preferred at the end of last year, but she returns to her Rideau Carleton roots tonight, with class relief; powerful closer beat males in her most recent Ottawa starts, at 12000clm classification; now racing for Vic Puddy instead of Robert Bernicky after claim last November; all of her eight 2020 victories were at this venue, for previous owner/trainer Robert Bernicky. (7) SOPHIES CAM stepped up for Richard Simard to win her final start of last year; that was at Rideau F-Op10000clm classification, but classy November Hippodrome 3R distaff Preferred 2&3 Handicap winner can handle outside posts and class jump; late speed. (3) E R RHONDA ended the abbreviated season with a win and a place for driver Guy Gagnon; was improving on late-season class climb when racing came to an end.
Race 8 – (2) THUNDER ROMPS is a trotting-bred pacer who makes Rideau Carleton debut on the heels of an undefeated December in London; class drop from 15000clmcd and new catch driver Robert Robinson for front-end-loving Hoosier Park import. (4) TWO FOR TRIPPING is a very lightly-raced four-year-old who showed versatility and never missed board here last December; that was with Guy Gagnon in the bike--he's driving his own trainee #7 Wild River Coyotee this time--so Marie Claude Auger inherits a promising catch drive. (9) LUNAR LAUNCH ended 2020 with a going-away Rideau Op10000clm victory on the class drop; Richard Simard returns to drive lightly-raced four-year-old from trailing post tonight; up in class, but a top-three threat if he can follow out the #1 or #2 to find stalking position near front early.
Race 9 – (4) ASA IM READY ended 2020 with a rare off-the-board finish in a Rideau Carleton Nw2r35000lcd event where she cut most of the mile; the seven-time seasonal winner has been competing every week, and may bounce back after enjoying the unexpected time off. (6) ABC MUSCLES BOY is Tyler Jones' lone drive of the night; back class ten-year-old closed to pick up cheques in pair of December starts at Mohawk; winless last year, but tonight marks a class drop for gelding who began 2020 in Rideau Preferred. (3) RICHSNORTHERNDREAM adds Lasix; loses Guy Gagnon to his own trainee, #5 Wildwild Men; Richard Simard catch drives mare who is most effective when she can make front in the opening half and defend the lead.
Race 10 – (4) RACEMUP draws well following a couple of outer assignments in last two Rideau Carleton Preferred Handicaps of 2020; Marie Claude Auger returns to sulky behind Vic Puddy trainee who avoids his toughest recent rivals here--no National Debt or Vegas Rocks this time around. (5) LUKE AND DUKE closed for place in last two Ottawa Preferred starts; Guy Gagnon's ten-time 2020 winner has been more successful at lower classifications. (3) AVATAR J was show finisher in 4 of 5 previous tries against these; Stephane Brosseau returns to the sulky--he engineered this horse's most recent victory, Nov. 15 at Rideau Nw4200l3cd level; hasn't been able to repeat at tonight's higher classification.
Race 11 – (4) VEGAS ROCKS returns at the Rideau Carleton level where he ended 2020; he and Stephane Brosseau concluded December with a place result at Nw4000l3cd classification; off-the-pace trip over "good" surface kept recent Preferred pacer from catching Stelios, who lands post #8 this race; class drop. (8) STELIOS overcame post #7 to capture his Dec. 20 Op18000clm gate-to-wire for owner/trainer/driver Guy Gagnon; front-end-loving gelding could be vulnerable out here in post #8 tonight. (2) ST LADS CAPTAIN recorded back-to-back December victories here for Darcy Clancy in December; this is a class jump, however his going-away wins and undefeated status for latest owner/trainer/driver suggest he should return strong.
Race 12 – (2) XTERNAL is erratic, but warrants a look in an inconsistent field; won 2020 Rideau Carleton debut for Marie Claude Auger Nov. 22, from post #8 over tiring surface that wore down pacesetters; lightly-raced last season; hooked wheels when closing in the stretch at Mohawk last October 17; note that he won at Mohawk Nw5r75000l level February 17, 2018, and has history in Ottawa, recording his second lifetime victory here at age two; big closing effort after being shuffled back to last from post #8 in his last race of 2020. (5) OFFICER JONES gets class relief from Preferred company; Richard Simard drives pacer whose last victory came at this track's Nw850pscd level Nov. 22, courtesy of a first-up move over snowy conditions. (4) BETTOR CAT arrives from Mohawk; third in Sept. 13 Rideau "not listed" Preferred over a short field, this Mark Goddard trainee spent the rest of the season at Flamboro and Mohawk; adds catch driver Guy Gagnon.
Race 13 – (3) DYLANS BANK is up in class, but back in the same post position from which he and Stephane Brosseau wired Rideau Carleton rivals twice in a row last November; four-year-old John MacMillan trainee had six victories here last year, more than a few shy of North American win champion... (9) BIG PETES STYLE, who went back-to-back to end the year; Guy Gagnon's winning machine ended up third when he last drew a second-tier post position, closing up passing lane for catch driver Stephane Brosseau Sept. 13; class jump. (2) STONEBRIDGE BEACH exits Preferred level; Stephane Pouliot's pacer had just two 2020 victories, both at lower classifications like tonight's; improved post and class relief may not be enough. (1) WESTERN PHIL returns from Mohawk; regularly handled by Tyler Jones with success last year, he's got Richard Simard in the sulky this race; has tended to lose ground late in his miles. (7) THE ROADIES drops in class, but has achieved best recent results at lower level than tonight, racing on/near front end--a trip that's tough to envision here.
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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