The Pick 8 Handicapping Challenge for Friday night's Ontario Regional Driving Championship is now open!
Your task is to handicap the field of eight drivers in order of their official finishing position in the ORDC at The Raceway at The Western Fair District, from first through eighth. Drivers receive points based on their official finish position in each ORDC race. The two drivers with the most points will advance to the National Driving Championship.
The person who correctly selects the order of finish will win a fantastic prize pack which will include a $50 gift card to the racetrack of their choice, $50 in Fan Club swag, and an autographed photo of the winning driver of the Championship. You must be a Fan Club member to enter.
All entrants agree to the terms and conditions of the contest.
Garnet Barnsdale, Freelance Harness Racing Writer and Handicapper for HarnessRacingAmerica.com
There should be some great racing action with lots of movement in this leg of the ORDC at the London half-mile oval and after studying the past performances intently here’s my take on how they will finish:
Trevor Henry: It’s near-impossible to discount the undisputed king of Ontario’s “B” tracks in any dash disputed over the London oval and the track’s perennial leading driver has the looks of a strong favourite here. Henry stands very strong chances to win race 2 with Kendal Gucci, Race 9 with Last On, Race 10 with Justalittleluck and Race 11 steering Rave On. Henry’s aggressive driving style should also garner him several shares throughout the card.
Jody Jamieson: If anyone is going to topple our top choice, it’s WEG’s leading dash winner. Jamieson has particularly strong chances to win piloting Kan Wire in the 4th, Pasta Vera in the 7th, Jeepers Creepers in the 9th and Kendal Fresco in the 10th. This could be a photo finish between Henry and Jamieson for top spot
James MacDonald: This aggressive teamster also holds a strong hand with excellent chances in race 5 with Divine Hester, race 6 driving Magoo Again and race 11 steering Milliondollarcell. If the top two falter, “Jampie” could go charging right on by.
Paul Mackenzie: Another pilot in with a chance, Mackenzie’s best hopes look to ride with Angel From Above in the 2nd, The Gormanizor in the 5th and the class-dropping JJ Jetstar in the 10th. Keep an eye on this expert of the ½ mile ovals.
Billy Davis Jr.: Davis Jr’s best chances to greet the photographer come with Emoticon in the 4th and Hoboken Hanover in the 11th. He looks to need a bit of luck to crack the exacta.
Doug McNair: “Maverick” McNair is one of the best drivers over this oval where he first cut his teeth and made a mark for himself early in his career. Unfortunately he seems to lack the horsepower to threaten for the top spots on this night. McNair’s best chances to visit the winner’s circle seem to be with DI Hanover in the 5th and Nicks Guy in the 8th.
Scott Coulter: “The Tan Tornado” also appears to lack the stock to threaten for the top spot but could threaten with Yesterdays News in the 3rd and Winning Miss Betty in the 4th and Derby Dylan in the 11th.
J R Plante: He has his work cut out having drawn several outside posts. His best shot to win however may come from the slot farthest out in the 6th with Keep The Music who is one that knows how to hustle off the gate.
It might be prudent from a wagering perspective to watch which drivers appear to be most aggressive early in the card as J Brandon Campbell won the Fraser leg by making several devastatingly aggressive moves that he parlayed into big wins.
Shannon 'Sugar' Doyle, Track Announcer & Pregame Show Host @ The Raceway at Western Fair District
Jody Jamieson gets my top call. Sugar's Selections, in the program, have him winning three races on the card - R3 #2 Kan Wire, R6 #1 Torches Angel and R10 #6 Kendal Fresco. I truly believe Torches Angel @ 7/2 could be the best bet of the night if she happens to go away anywhere near her 7/2 morning line odds. Jody found a great spot for onion rings in Guelph this week. He already knows where the winner's circle is in London.
Trevor Henry has been red-hot averaging more than three wins per card over the last 10 race days. He comes into this event in top form after winning five here on Tuesday. He's familiar with the closer #4 Kendal Gucci in the 2nd; he gets the top call with #8 Last One, in the 9th, as that one tries for three in a row and #2 Justalittleluck in the 10th could end a big night for this pilot who prefers to win races on days that end in 'Y'.
JR Plante has some value plays that I'm thinking may step up on Friday. R2 #8 Giddy Up Bella @ 12/1, R4 #4 Abigail Eden @ 6/1 and even R5 #1 Windwood Nick @ 10/1 are all capable up being upset factors in their races. Plante will truly go into Friday night with his 'poker face' on - let's hope he finds some luck in the Forest City.
Doug McNair drove for the double at The Raceway on Wednesday and I've got him pegged to do the same on Friday. First with the #5 D I Hanover in the 5th and then #2 Nicks Guy may step up in the 8th. You'll see McNair sending them Friday night, but will his mounts deliver?
Billy Davis Jr. has a shot with a pair of trotters on the card. R3 #6 Stolen Goods looks to be his best shot at a win and R8 #4 PCs Wildcard may be in the hunt as well. Expect 'The Rocketman' to be launching a few...
James MacDonald has some live plays early in the program... R3 #5 M Douglas and R6 #4 Magoo Again both look good to go, but after those it gets very tough. I'm thinking get what you can early 'Jampie'!
Scott Coulter has had a good run lately in London. He's got a ML fave in #1 Winning Miss Betty @ 9/5 in the 4th, but I'm not a fan of her form in recent starts. I'm just not seeing a 'Tanned Tornado' warning on Friday night.
Paul MacKenzie moves in for the sidelined Alfie Carroll. I'll give an outside chance for Paul to hit with The Gormanizor from post 6, in the 5th. but without a 'MacKenzie Lane' in London it could be a tough night.
Mark McKelvie, Winner of the 2012 HANA Pen vs Chip Handicapping Challenge & Graduate of Humber College's Journalism Print and Broadcast Program.
Jody Jamieson:- Jamieson is a former World Driving Champion and has the most experience in events like these which gives me full confidence he will have a big impact on this challenge. He has some live drives even with horses from the outside of the gate. He is one of only two drivers listed on two morning line favourites. Handicapping these races I put him in the top spot twice and have him hitting the board in six out of eight races, that’s more than any other driver.
Trevor Henry:- Henry knows the London oval better than any other driver in the contest which gives him a bit of a leg up. He also has experience in the World Driving Challenge which should be noted because drivers may change tactics in search of points. I have Henry as my top choice in two races while hitting the board in four of the eight races, but all his drives have the ability to do some damage and allow him to rack up the points.
James MacDonald:- MacDonald is having a banner season and I expect he will be very aggressive in this contest. He is listed on two morning line favourites. A key in this contest is not only taking advantage of the inside post when you have it, but doing some damage with horses leaving from the outside and I think MacDonald has some very capable horses he can use from post six and seven. I have him as my top choice in two races.
Doug McNair:- McNair will need to take full advantage of the races he starts from the inside. His outside starters look overmatched, but McNair usually gets horses involved in the race. He may be able to pick up some key points if he can get big efforts out of those couple outside starters. I used one of his drives as my top choice and have him hitting the board in three out of eight races.
Billy Davis Jr.- Davis is in a little tough with three drives behind horses who either made a break in their last start or are making their first start after qualifying because of breaks. Davis is normally able to be aggressive and get horses to the front, but a few of his horses just may not be able to handle that approach. He does have a few good chances to find the winner’s circle and I used him as my top choice in one race, while I have him hitting the board in three out of eight.
Paul MacKenzie:- The last minute addition to the contest will likely need to use some solid strategies and get some luck in this challenge. MacKenzie is listed on three horses with morning line odds in the double digits. His best drive on paper is a third choice on the morning line. Looking at his drives I believe he has a couple possible upset plays including in the first race of the challenge. Two of his drives I have in the runner-up spot.
Tie for 7th Scott Coulter:- Coulter has an opportunity to get off to a good start in the contest with very live drives in the second and third contest races. However, many of his other drives are longshots and will need some luck. I use two of his drivers in the place spot, but those are the only two I see hitting the board.
Tie for 7th J.R. Plante- Plante appears to have a handful of drives that won’t receive much support at the windows and I just don’t see doing much damage. His best bet is in the final challenge race where he will sit behind the morning line choice. I have him in the place spot in that race, but if he can keep himself close in the challenge he may be able to make things interesting in that final race.