Next year, you can bet on it - or so they say. The Far Hills Races went through all the hoops to get pari-mutuel wagering passed at its one-day steeplechase meet every October and the bill was signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie in September - too late to ramp up everything needed for legal betting this year.
So, these selections are all in fun. Hah.
In an example of "Just because everyone else is picking losers doesn't mean you should too," the team struggled last week. Joe and Tom had three wins apiece at Virginia Fall (Two's Company and Cryptos' Holiday plus Doc Cebu for Tom and Rodriguez for Joe). Sean came up with two (Two's Company and Rodriguez). Nobody predicted the Billy Meister sweep (Battle Aray and Grand Manan) at Genesee and we're sorry.
Joe and Tom are tied atop the fall leaderboard with six wins, while Sean has four. But it's early. Right? Right?
And on we go to Far Hills for seven races that might as well be calculus exams. First post is 1 p.m. If you're attending, arrive before 10:30 or you might not get there until 12:30. If you're staying home, there is live streaming available at National Steeplechase and Far Hills Races websites (we are not in charge of that). Entries available via NSA.
First race. $50,000 Peapack Stakes for fillies and mares going 2 1/8 miles. One Lucky Lady won last year and is a deserving favorite. But she's got some competition from, and gives weight to, Get Ready Set Goes, Ivy Mills, The Grange, Lady Yeats and others in a big field. Pick her or don't pick her.
Joe: One Lucky Lady, Get Ready Set Goes, The Grange.
Tom: Get Ready Set Goes, The Grange, Lady Yeats.
Sean: Get Ready Set Goes, One Lucky Lady, The Grange.
Second race. $50,000 maiden hurdle going 2 1/8 miles. It's the "almosts" of Hooded, Meteoroid and Yellow Mountain against a slate of newcomers like Strongbox, Ever So Lucky, Mr. Jenney and With Rhythm.
Joe: With Rhythm, Yellow Mountain, Meteoroid.
Tom: Hooded, Meteoroid, Yellow Mountain.
Sean: With Rhythm, Hooded, Yellow Mountain.
Third race. $100,000 Foxbrook novice hurdle stakes going 2 1/2 miles. Just eight run, and nobody is better than Hardrock Eleven right now. The front-running gray won at Saratoga and returned to score in a novice stakes at Belmont Park in September. He'll get pressure from course winner Ice It (carrying 14 fewer pounds), solid import Swansea Mile, recent maiden winner Castle Hill (who gets 17 from the favorite) and Special Skills (a Saratoga winner).
Joe: Ice It, Castle Hill, Swansea Mile.
Tom: Miguel Grau, All That Rules, Hardrock Eleven.
Sean: Special Skills, Hardrock Eleven, Miguel Grau.
Fourth race. $350,000 American Grand National Grade 1 hurdles stakes going 2 5/8 miles. The richest race of the year drew eight runners, none more accomplished than Rawnaq - third in this last year and twice a winner in two starts this year. Irish-bred has not run since powerhouse score in the Iroquois in May and will take all the beating. Likely upsetters: English invaders Sharp Rise and Days Of Heaven, Scorpiancer. All-World jump jockey Ruby Walsh jets in for the ride aboard Rawnaq.
Joe: Rawnaq, Sharp Rise, Days Of Heaven.
Tom: Rawnaq, Andi'amu, Days Of Heaven.
Sean: Rawnaq, Sharp Rise, Scorpiancer.
Fifth race. $50,000 Appleton handicap hurdle. For horses rated 140-110, the race drew a field of eight led by 132-rated Hisaabaat. He earned a 135 in Ireland and came down slightly for a lopsided loss in the Lonesome Glory. He should be tighter for that, but gets plenty of challengers and carries top weight of 158 pounds. Time Out will try another wire job at 137. Lune de Caro is as tough as they come at 148. Lyonell is inexperienced, but clearly of some quality. Class Cherokee is capable.
Joe: Lune de Caro, Lyonell, Class Cherokee.
Tom: Time Out, Lune de Caro, Perfect Union.
Sean: Lune de Caro, Lyonell, Time Out.
Sixth race. $50,000 Gladstone Stakes over hurdles for 3-year-olds going 2 1/8 miles. A field of nine freshmen led by English-raced Invocation, who has run five times over hurdles with three seconds. America's best Officer's Oath won at Shawan. Trappe Hill Road from Jack Fisher could be any kind. Typically wide open.
Joe: Trappe Hill Road, Invocation, Officer's Oath.
Tom: Cuba Libre, Popcastle, Trappe Hill Road.
Sean: Officer's Oath, Popcastle, Invocation.
Seventh race. $50,000 New Jersey Hunt Cup timber stakes going 3 1/4 miles. A field of six turned up thanks to a crowded schedule including open races at Shawan, Virginia Fall and Genesee to start the season and the $90,000 International Gold Cup next week. Ballylifen can improve off his last, but must deal with Old Timer and Le Chevalier.
Joe: Le Chevalier, Ballylifen, Old Timer.
Tom: Puller, Old Timer, Le Chevalier.
Sean: Ballylifen, Old Timer, Le Chevalier.