Lock Down Lindy and Spirit To Win were the winners Saturday night of the two $35,000 elimination races to determine starters in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, to be held at The Meadowlands on August 8.
The Oaks is the filly companion race to the $1 million Hambletonian.
Both the Hambletonian and Oaks will be shown live on CBS Sports Network from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Post positions will be drawn on Monday afternoon at a press conference at the track. The winners of each elimination will draw for posts one through five.
Lock Down Lindy (Tim Tetrick) locked in her spot in the final of the Oaks with a two length win in the first elimination race.
Content to let Bright Baby Blues (David Miller) and then Gatka Hanover (Yannick Gingras) set the early pace, with 'Gatka' hitting the quarter in :27.2 and the half in :55.1, Lock Down Lindy sprinted to the front of the pack just past the half. The daughter of Lucky Chucky grabbed the lead with authority and held it through the 1:23.3 three-quarters. She trotted strong to the wire in 1:51.4 with all others giving futile chase, though Wild Honey (Jimmy Takter) put on a rally late in the race to be second, with Bright Baby Blues behind her.
Lock Down Lindy is trained by Tony Alagna and owned by Mystical Marker Farm, Crawford Partners, Joe Sbrocco and In the Gym Partners.
“I had a lot of confidence in this mare and it hasn’t really worked out, a lot of bad spots and some mistakes here and there, mostly mine,” said winning driver Tim Tetrick.
“She showed tonight the talent she does have. I was hoping I could follow Takter’s mare [Wild Honey] all the way up there but somehow she got to drop in the three-hole.
“I just went up for the lead and after that, it was over. Any time you get to compete in these races [Hambletonian and Oaks] is awesome, let alone win them, and I’ve gotten to drive some great horses that put me in the winner’s circle in those races.
“It’s a wide open race, the way she raced in here tonight, they’re definitely going to be looking for her. She won’t be dismissed quite as much; she’s always had the talent. She just hasn’t always been able to put it together.”
The last two Oaks spots in that race went to fourth-place finisher Lady Winona and fifth-place Smokinmombo.
In the second elimination, Spirit To Win turned on the afterburners in the last sixteenth of a mile, with driver Brett Miller’s hands in his lap all the way to the finish line in 1:52.2 to win by two lengths.
Spirit To Win is trained by Dustin Jones and owned by Frederick Hertrich III and Noblock Racing Stable.
Spirit To Win flirted with the lead off the starting gate, but Rules Of The Road (Corey Callahan) got to the quarter first in :28 before Livininthefastlane (Andy Miller) took over that spot with a quick move to the top. They held that spot to the :56.2 half with Rules Of The Road tucked in behind. Spirit To Win, meanwhile, was working her way to the top on the outside, all the way to the head of the stretch. After idling on the outside alongside leader Livininthefastlane for a few strides at the 1:24.4 three-quarters, Brett Miller gave the daughter of Donato Hanover the mildest of urging and off she went to the top for the win.
Livininthefastlane (Andy Miller) was second, Sarcy (Johnny Takter) was third. Also earning spots in the final were fourth-place finisher Rules Of The Road (Corey Callahan) and Speak To Me (Scott Zeron).
“After last week [when she beat Mission Brief by a nose in the Del Miller Memorial], I had a lot of confidence in her,” said Brett Miller.
“When I landed where I landed [sixth at the quarter], honestly, it didn’t bother me. The way she felt, this filly, she acts like one of those horses who gives 100 percent and won’t stop until she gets by them. There are a lot of nice fillies in here, she’s going to have to show up next week and do her best.”
In the $50,000 TVG Open Trot, Flanagan Memory edged Natural Herbie by a nose to earn his first victory of the season in a 12-1 upset. The five-year-old Kadabra son trained by co-owner Rene Dion and driven by Tim Tetrick paid $26.40 for his 12th career win in 43 starts. The exacta returned $174.60. Intimidate, 20-1, got third to complete a $2,423.60 trifecta. The time was a lifetime-best 1:51.4.
JK Endofanera ruled the matching TVG Open Pace in wire-to-wire fashion, winning by a head over Doo Wop Hanover and State Treasurer in 1:49. The win was the second of the season for the North America Cup champion. The first six finishers were separated by no more than one length. JK Endofanera is trained by Jimmy Takter for 3 Brothers Stables. Brett Miller was in the sulky. The winner returned $8.60 for the victory.
Colors A Virgin prevailed in the $28,500 Mares Open Pace by a neck over Lucys Pearl and favourite Radar Contact in the 1:50.2. David Miller drove the Tony O'Sullovan trainee for Emerald Highlands Farm. She paid $10.40 to win.
There were no winning tickets in the Pick 5 on Saturday night at The Meadowlands. There will be a Pick 5 carryover into the Friday, August 7 program of $29,460.76.
There were multiple winning tickets in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 on Saturday night. The wager will not be offered on Friday, August 7 and there will be a mandatory payout on Hambletonian Day, Saturday, August 8 with a carryover of $231,403.
(With files from HRC & Meadowlands Racetrack)