From early on, breeder Ron Mersky had a really good feeling about Railee Something. Ever since then, the three-year-old trotting filly has done nothing to change Mersky’s opinion.
Railee Something has won 11 of 19 career races, hit the board an additional five times and earned $332,636 for Mersky, who retained ownership of the daughter of International Moni-Railee Priti. She is the 2-1 morning-line favourite in the first of Saturday’s two $40,000 Hambletonian Oaks eliminations for sophomore female trotters at The Meadowlands.
“I’m not a person who stakes horses a great deal,” said Mersky, who will start a horse in the Hambletonian Oaks for the first time. “But I am a person who also, and I don’t want to sound braggadocious, but I think I have a pretty good eye. I’ve been around a while. When I saw [Railee Something] early on, I told people that this one is it.
“She was a beautiful, well-mannered, intelligent filly. If I could put it in one word, it’s ‘presence.’ She simply had presence. She was so balanced. You could call it ‘the look.’ She had that. She has been a joy and continues to be a joy.”
Railee Something will start her Oaks elim from post five with Yannick Gingras in the sulky for trainer Ron Burke. The eight-horse field includes 2022 Jim Doherty Memorial winner Instagram Model, the 5-2 second choice from post three for driver Andy McCarthy and trainer Annie Stoebe, as well as Delvin Miller Memorial division winner Heaven Hanover, who is 3-1 and leaves from post two with Tim Tetrick driving for Marcus Melander.
Burke sends Railee Something to the Oaks off a career-best 1:52 win in a division of the Tompkins-Geers last week at the Big M. The filly has won five of seven races this season, with her two setbacks being second-place finishes behind highly-regarded Oaks hopeful Bond (the 5-2 second choice in the second elimination).
“Yannick has done a great job with her,” Mersky said. “He’s masterful in terms of getting to know her, her getting to know him. The last race was good for her because she got to sit in a hole. I noticed Yannick had a comfortable ride, so that was good.
“She has a wonderful stride; she eats up ground. That’s her best quality, with determination. She deserves a shot here. She really does. I would be kicking myself if I didn’t give her a shot.”
Railee Something began this year by twice beating older horses at Oak Grove in Kentucky, where she was trained by Roger Cullipher. She raced four times on the Pennsylvania stakes circuit before heading to The Meadowlands for the Tompkins-Geers.
“I’m very appreciative to Roger and Ronnie and his staff,” said Mersky, who might be best known as the breeder of millionaire pacers Ginger And Fred and Fred And Ginger. “We’ll keep on keeping on as we can. I’ve had good horses before, I’ve had disappointments too, but this one, when you get to be my age, it’s a very nice thing.”
As for his hopes Saturday, Mersky said, “I don’t believe in good luck, I just want a fair shake. That’s all.”
The top five finishers from each Oaks elimination will advance to the $500,000 final on Aug. 5 at The Meadowlands. Elim winners draw for post positions one through five followed by the remaining finalists receiving their posts in an open draw.
O’Brien Award winner Righteous Resolve, who won last year’s Peaceful Way Stakes, is the 2-1 morning-line favourite in the second Oaks elimination. She will start from post eight with James MacDonald driving for trainer Matt Bax. She has an Ontario Sires Stakes victory to her credit in two starts this year and was first-placed-second in the other.
Bond, with trainer Ake Svanstedt in the sulky, will leave from post one. Quick Stop, who won a Del Miller division two weeks ago, is the 4-1 third choice and will start from post three with Tetrick driving for Anette Lorentzon.
Saturday’s card at The Meadowlands also includes two $100,000 eliminations for the Hambletonian Stakes for three-year-old trotters.
Post positions for the Hambletonian and Oaks finals will be drawn Tuesday (Aug. 1) at a press conference and luncheon hosted by Hogan Equine Clinic in Cream Ridge, N.J., beginning at 2 p.m.
Racing begins at 6:20 p.m. (EDT) at The Meadowlands. The Hambletonian eliminations are races six and nine. The Oaks eliminations are races seven and eight. Click here for a PDF program to view the full list of entries on July 29 at The Meadowlands.