The 2016 Hambletonian Day card at The Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford. N.J., loaded with a number of major stakes and high-profile competitors, is now in the books.
In a thrilling finish, Marion Marauder nosed out Southwind Frank to win the 91st Hambletonian for driver Scott Zeron, trainer Paula Wellwood and owners (Marion) Jean Wellwood and Devin Keeling of Ontario. For full coverage on the 91st Hambletonian, click the following link: Marion Marauder Wins 2016 Hambletonian.
The coverage of the Hambletonian Day undercard follows.
$70,000 Hambletonian Elimination #1
The betting public hammered away at Bar Hopping, and the Jimmy Takter trainee didn’t let down his army of pari-mutuel supporters.
Tim Tetrick got away third with Bar Hopping when the starting gate sped away, and that left the lead to Brooklyn Hill. He supplied the first quarter in :27 before Tetrick took the bull by the horns and blasted Bar Hopping to the top. Bar Hopping cruised through middle fractions of :55.4 and 1:24 before sprinting home to win by a big margin over Milligans School in 1:51.4. Lagerfeld rounded out the top three finishers, with the final cheques – and spots in the final – going to fourth-place finisher Iron Mine Bucky and Mavens Way, who was fifth.
Bar Hopping, a three-year-old son of Muscle Hill-Cocktail Hour, now boasts a 3-2-2 record from nine starts this season. The career winner of $432,548 is owned by Christina Takter, Hatfield Stables, Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld.
$70,000 Hambletonian Elimination #2
It was a seemingly impossible amount of ground to make up on a nearly unbeatable horse. But Marion Marauder made believers out of those that doubted his ability with a lifetime best performance in the second $70,000 Hambletonian elimination.
Southwind Frank (Yannick Gingras) was on top after clearing just past the :26.4 opening quarter. Gingras had a strong hold on the favourite through a :55.1 half and a 1:23.2 third station with little challenge until Jimmy William (Tim Tetrick) made a first over bid just before the third station.
Heading into the stretch, Southwind Frank looked to pull away from the pack, but a pair of challengers from the backfield had other ideas. Scott Zeron gave Marion Marauder clear sailing and the second choice just got up in the final strides to hit the wire first in a lifetime best 1:51.3. Southwind Frank stayed for second with a stoutly-closing Waitlifter K (Matt Kakaley), Sutton (Andy Miller) and The Royal Harry (Ake Svanstedt) also qualifying for the final.
"If I had a helmet cam it would have been pretty interesting to watch," noted Zeron after the win. "I was hoping [the trip] would work out a little bit differently but it didn't and he ended up overcoming the distance we had to make up at that three-quarter pole. We were trying to mow down a horse that I felt is the best horse to get to that final and he did it...and he did it impressively."
Paula Wellwood trains Marion Marauder (Muscle Hill - Spellbound Hanover) for her mother Marion Jean Wellwood of Stratford, Ont. and her son Devin Keeling of Cambridge, Ont. The sophomore is now five-for-six on the season with four consecutive victories.
After the second elim, the post draw was held for the Hambletonian final. Here's how they'll line up.
1. Southwind Frank
2. The Royal Harry
3. Bar Hopping
4. Waitlifter K
5. Marion Marauder
7. Milligans School
8. Iron Mine Bucky
9. Mavens Way
$235,950 Lady Liberty
O'Brien Award winners Lady Shadow and Solar Sister swept the top-two spots in the 1-1/8 miles TVG Series event for older pacing mares.
The Canadian-trained distaffers were the talk of the toteboard at odds of 4-5 and 2-1, respectively, following their top-two placings in the Golden Girls on July 16 at The Meadowlands, and didn't disappoint their backers in a repeat 1-2 finish.
Driver Yannick Gingras had Ron Adams trainee Lady Shadow out three-wide from the trailing tier post 12 as they moved around Bettor N Bettor (John Campbell) and aimed for the top spot. Out-sprinted off the gate by Inittowinafortune (Scott Zeron) in a sizzling :25.2 opening quarter, Venus Delight (Jason Bartlett) looped that rival for a brief appearance on the lead before Lady Shadow cleared past the :53 half-mile mark.
Lady Shadow continued to lead the oversized field through three-quarters in 1:20.4 and began to open up around the final turn. However, the Gregg McNair-trained Solar Sister (Brian Sears) pursued first over into second-place and she began to reel in Lady Shadow down the stretch as they passed the mile mark in 1:48.3. Lady Shadow ultimately held on to prevail by half a length in 2:03 for the added distance. Katies Said (Brett Miller) emerged from a wall of horses closing for third-place honours.
Lady Shadow is owned by David Kryway of Amherstburg, Ont., Carl Atley of Xenia, Ohio, Edwin Gold of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania and the BFJ Stable of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The millionaire daughter of Shadow Play and Lady Camella has now won half of her 12 starts during her five-year-old campaign.
Lady Shadow's victory capped off an incredible Hambletonian Day for the BFJ Stable's Howard Taylor.
"This is what it's all about. It's just unbelievable. I'm embarrassed by the wealth of riches," said Taylor after celebrating stakes victories with Lady Shadow, Shamballa and Control The Moment.
"Both the [Meadowlands] Pace night and this, they just raced out of their minds. I guess, it's just my year...I don't know what I'm doing different!"
$500,000 Hambletonian Oaks
Trainer Jimmy Takter sent out the Hambletonian Oaks winner for the third straight year – and for a record-tieing sixth time – thanks to a flawless performance by three-year-trotting filly All The Time.
Yannick Gingras mapped out a perfect trip from second over for All The Time, and when he pushed the button in the lane she accelerated past the foes in front of her en route to posting a facile win in 1:52.1.
Side Bet Hanover worked her way to the early lead, but Caprice Hill popped the pocket on her and they raced side-by-side to the quarter pole in :28.1. Caprice Hill then hustled to secure the lead, and once she got there she distributed middle fractions of :55.4 and 1:24. All The Time flipped of cover turning for home and her closing kick earned her the win – just as her full sister, Ariana G, did earlier in the afternoon in the Jim Doherty Memorial, over Caprice Hill and Celebrity Eventsy.
Sent off at odds of 7-2, All The Time improved her seasonal record to 4-3-0 from seven starts for Canadian owners Marvin Katz, Sam Goldband and Al Libfeld. Their homebred is now an 11-time winner to date, and her lifetime earnings to $922,606.
$225,550 US Pacing Championship Open Pace
Scott Zeron added another tally to his meet-leading totals at The Meadowlands, perfectly guiding his father's pupil Shamballa to an 8-1 upset victory in the $225,550 US Pacing Championship for older pacers.
Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague) left promptly for early command, with favoured Always B Miki (David Miller) crossing over to vie for the front. Teague didn't let Miller clear easily after a :27.2 opener, stinging the favourite before taking a hold. With the half flashing up in :53.3, Freaky Feet Pete (Trace Tetrick) made a strong bid first-over. That move gave Shamballa cover and towed him up into prime second-over striking position.
Freaky Feet Pete made it to Always B Miki's bridle through the 1:20.3 third station, then forged to the front. Zeron tipped Shamballa off that cover and his pacer exploded with his usual late kick. Wiggle It Jiggleit found room between pacers late but Shamballa was clear and hit the wire first in a lifetime best 1:47.1. Wiggle It Jiggleit stayed for second over Dealt A Winner (Andy Miller), with Always B Miki finishing fourth. That's the first time since June 2014 that harness racing's top-ranked horse hasn't finished in the top two.
"A second-over trip made all the difference, and he gave me everything he had down the lane," said Zeron after the win. "My dad always told me if we can keep him covered up, he'll move his little legs as fast as he can the whole way down the stretch and he did just that."
Rick Zeron trains and owns Shamballa (Somebeachsomewhere - Bolero Takara) along with Tao Racing LLC, Howard Taylor and Cool Cat Racing Inc. The winner's share of the purse lifts the six-year-old's lifetime bankroll over $775,000.
$75,000 Vincennes Invitational
Meladys Monet was treated to a ground-saving trip by driver Jason Bartlett, and the Yonkers regulars emerged victorious in what turned out to be a wild finish.
Wings Of Royalty motored to the engine and doled out fractions of :27.3, :56.1 and 1:24 before being attacked by a wall of challengers. Meladys Monet wiggled between horses for Bartlett and rallied to win comfortably over Musical Rhythm and Mambo Lindy.
Kevin McDermott trains the seven-year-old son of Revenue S-Keystone Melady for Melady Enterprises LLC of Pompano Beach, FL. The 39-time winner is inching closer to $900,000 in career earnings.
$320,000 Cane Pace
Three straight races at The Meadowlands, and three straight wins for Control The Moment. The sophomore son of Well Said captured the first leg of pacing's Triple Crown, the 2016 Cane Pace.
The race was contested at 1-1/8 miles with the field of 11 entered. Surprisingly, Control The Moment was an unhurried sixth early on as Big Top Hanover (Joe Bongiorno) exploded from Post 10 to grab the early lead. He reached the opening panel in :25.4 before JK Will Power (David Miller) came calling to his outside and cleared to the front. JK Will Power paced through the half-mile marker in :54.2 before longshot Manny (Andy Miller) made a brisk brush for the front. Ideal Rocky (Corey Callahan) tried to keep pace with that one as Control The Moment followed his cover third over.
As the field paced through the three-quarter station in 1:21.4, Sears tipped Control The Moment three-wide with authority and cleared to the front at the head of the stretch. The favourite opened up some daylight on the field before shutting down to cruise through the wire in 2:02.4. Manhattan Beach (Matt Kakaley) closed well for second with JK Will Power holding off the filly, Pure Country (Brett Miller) for show honours.
"He hadn't raced in a couple of weeks and they were racing aggressive enough early in the race," Sears said of his decision to settle mid-pack early. "My horse was a little keyed up when I came third over and I had him three deep a winner earlier than I'd like but he's a really nice horse and he paced right through the wire."
Trained by Brad Maxwell of Cambridge, Ont. for owners Control The Moment Stable of Philadelphia, Pa., Control The Moment (Well Said - Lifesliltreasure) is now 4-for-8 on the season with lifetime earnings topping $1.17 million. He was bred in Alberta by Dr. Fred Kruszelnicki.
$273,600 John Cashman Memorial
Elitlopp and Arthur J. Cutler Memorial winner Resolve chalked up another major win, but he had to survive a Judges inquiry to do so.
Ake Svanstedt revved Resolve’s engine early by putting him on the lead and cutting the first quarter in :27.1. JL Cruze came after the leader in the backstretch, and he quickly swept to the lead. JL Cruze hit the half in :54.3 before coming under pressure of his own. O’Brien Award winner Flanagan Memory hustled to the point and took the field into the final turn and then to the three-quarter pole in 1:22.2. Resolve angled off the rail at the mid-way point of the final turn, and did so while racing in tight quarters with Homicide Hunter. Resolve went on to rally for the win in 1:50.2 over a hard-charging Obrigado, with Flanagan Memory fading to finish third.
The Judges promptly lit the inquiry sign to look at Resolve when he angled off the rail in front of Homicide Hunter around the final, and after close examination they ruled Svanstedt didn’t commit interference.
It was the second win of the season in seven tries for the Svanstedt student, who races for Hans Enggren of Abbottstown, PA. The five-year-old son of Muscle Hill-Anikawiesahalee is a 12-time winner with earnings of $1,395,237.
$306,500 Jim Doherty Memorial
Ariana G remains unbeaten in four after a lifetime best effort in the the 2016 Jim Doherty Memorial for two-year-old trotting fillies.
John Campbell hustled Waffle Cone out for early command and landed on top of the field for a :28.1 opening panel. With Thats All Moni (Brett Miller) intent on the lead, Campbell allowed that duo to clear before right-lining for a retake. Waffle Cone then fronted the fillies through a :56.1 half and a 1:25.3 third quarter under pressure from Broadway Idole (Brian Sears). Elim winner Chezatter was second over and favoured Ariana G (Yannick Gingras), the other elim winner was third over heading around the final turn.
As the field turned for home, Miller and Gingras each tipped out wide to launch stretch bids. Chezatter had the lead in mid-stretch but Ariana G was full of trot and powered past for the 1:53.1 win by just less than a length. Thats All Moni rallied for third.
"It's really the thing we focus on the most, for many, many years now," said co-owner and co-breeder Marvin Katz of his outfit's specialization with trotting fillies. "It's been a program we've developed over a long time and it's gratifying to have fillies like this come through our program.
"We have great people who help us: Perry Soderberg, Jimmy Glass, Bob Brady came on last year. But Jimmy Takter really set our program in motion about 20 years ago and he deserves a lot of credit," continued Katz. "Of course Yannick does a great job driving these fillies but I'd like to say thank you to Jimmy Takter."
Katz and Al Libfeld of Toronto and Pickering, Ont. own Ariana G (Muscle Hill - Cantab It All), unbeaten in four starts for trainer Jimmy Takter with $223,250 in purse earnings.
$294,450 Peter Haughton Memorial
Driver David Miller emulated a first-line sharpshooter from the NHL when he showed deep stretch patience, found a seam and went top shelf with NJSS champion, What The Hill.
All eyes – from a pari-mutuel perspective - were on the Jimmy Takter-trained duo of Rubio and Victor Gio IT, but What The Hill upstaged the pair of them when he pulled off the 8-1 upset in 1:54.4.
What The Hill enjoyed a two-hole trip behind stablemate Snowstorm Hanover through very reasonable fractions of :28.2, :57 and 1:25.4. Victor Gio IT was parked first-over every step of the mile and odds-on favourite Rubio rode cover from second over. Victor Gio IT worked his way to the lead coming off the final turn when Snowstorm Hanover tired, but that foe eventually opened the rail for stablemate What The Hill, and when Miller found daylight for his colt they shot through and exploded home to post the win over Victor Gio IT. Rubio, who came up flat-footed off cover, was third.
Ron Burke trains the two-year-old son of Muscle Hill-K T Cha Cha for Burke Racing Stable LLC, Our Horse Cents Stables, J And T Silva Stables LLC and Deo Volente Farms LLC. The win helped the rookie improve his record to 2-2-0 from five starts, and the winner’s share of the dough bumped his cash stash to $209,225.
$188,350 Fresh Yankee
The outcome was expected in the 2016 Fresh Yankee free-for-all for older trotting mares, but the winning margin was not.
The red-hot Hannelore Hanover was 1-9 on the toteboard, and driver Yannick Gingras drove her like she was 1-9. Clearing to the top through a :27 opening quarter, Hannelore Hanover continued on the front uncontested and strong through fractions of :55.4, 1:23.2 and 1:51 for the mile. Shake It Cerry (David Miller) made a move to secure the pocket down the stretch and that move paid off as he was able to angle out his mare for a serious stretch bid. Hannelore Hanover dug deep and held off the double millionaire by a quarter length, winning the 1-1/8 mile race in 2:05.
"You've got to give credit to Shake It Cerry, she's a great mare too and Jimmy Takter's always got them ready on Hambletonian Day," said Gingras after the race. "But Ronnie certainly had this mare ready as well; she put up all the fractions and really dug in late."
Owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Frank Baldachino, Hannelore Hanover is now 11-for-12 on the year with career earnings now in excess of $900,000.
$94,675 Shady Daisy
Darlinonthebeach dug in bravely in deep stretch for driver David Miller en route to posting a career-best and a stakes record-setting performance thanks to her 1:49.1 score.
Call Me Queen Be shot to the early lead, but race favourite Blue Moon Stride popped the pocket right at the quarter pole in :27 and brushed past that foe. Darlinonthebeach, who was third around the first turn, also made a snap move off the rail for driver David Miller, and in a matter of strides he and his filly secured the top spot. They carved out middle panels of :53.3 and 1:21.3 before being confronted in the lane by Blue Moon Stride and Call Me Queen Be. Darlinonthebeach summoned up :27.3 closing speed to fend off the late-rushing Call Me Queen Be. Blue Moon Stride settled for third.
Nancy Johansson trains the three-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Darlins Delight for owner/breeder White Birch Farm of Allentown, NJ. The victory improved her 2016 record to 6-2-1 from 11 starts, and the lion’s share of the purse boosted the eight-time winner’s bankroll to $507,976.
Important Links for Hambletonian Day:
BEST CONGRATS TO ALL
BEST CONGRATS TO ALL CANADIANS, who by my rough calc. earned more than 1.2 million for the day!! (horses owned in whole or in part)
Plus a training win for Brad Maxwell.
Best wishes for the Big M. in their quest for a good result in the election referendum!