Perhaps now the early favourite for the main event one year from now, trotting colt Dont Letem was much the best in the 2018 Peter Haughton Memorial and added his name to the Meadowlands track record books in the process.
As the field of rookie trotters headed into the first turn of the $422,350 stakes event, favoured Greenshoe (Brian Sears) made a break in stride that took him out of early contention. Driver Yannick Gingras pointed Dont Letem to the front and cleared over longshot Marseille (Ake Svanstedt) in :27.1. Gerry (Tim Tetrick) applied pressure first up through a :55.3 half and 1:24 third station with Green Manalishi (David Miller) second over.
Heading for home, Dont Letem found another gear and pulled away from his nine rivals. With powerful strides, Dont Letem tripped the timer in 1:51.4, a stakes and track record that's just one-fifth of a second off Walner's world record. Green Manalishi claimed runner-up honours with Mass Fortune K (Matt Kakaley) nosing out Gerry for third.
"It doesn't surprise any of us from the farm or the ownership," said Brittany Farms' Art Zubrod after the win. "He's a very, very talented horse. The only knock on him as a yearling was that he wasn't very big. But they said the same thing about Manchego so I guess that's not a real knock, is it?"
Bred by Brittany Farms LLC, Dont Letem (Muscle Hill - Passageway) is owned by Brittany along with Christina Takter of East Windsor, N.J., John Fielding of Toronto, Ont. and Montreal native Herb Liverman, now of Miami Beach, Fl. Sold as a yearling for $80,000, Dont Letem now sports a bankroll of $233,675 with the win -- his third in four lifetime starts. Jimmy Takter trains.
Be sure to check out the rest of the coverage from Hambletonian Day in the 2018 Hambletonian Day News Centre.