Road To 'Hambo' Continues With Reynolds

Published: July 8, 2021 02:48 pm EDT

Venerate entered this year as a horse everyone knew on the road to August’s $1 million Hambletonian Stakes final. Rattle My Cage? Perhaps not so much.

But those two colts are among 19 Hambletonian-eligible male trotters competing in Saturday’s W.N. Reynolds Memorial divisions at The Meadowlands as they embark on their last weeks of preparation for the sport’s premier event for three-year-old trotters at The Big M.

Julie Miller trainee Venerate was the 2020 Dan Patch Award winner for best two-year-old male trotter after winning five of 10 races, including the inaugural Mohawk Million and the Kentucky Sire Stakes championship. He is the 3-1 morning line favourite in the second Reynolds division for the boys, leaving from post nine in an 11-horse field with driver Andy Miller.

Venerate has raced once this season, making his three-year-old debut on June 26 against older rivals in a conditioned race at The Meadowlands. He went off stride on the last turn and finished ninth in a group of 10. Prior to that start, he won two qualifiers, including a 1:52.3 score on June 12.

“I’m pretty excited for him,” Julie Miller said. “He’s had a super week and he’s full of energy. I wasn’t too excited about post nine with a trailer (on Saturday), but you know what, they don’t hand it to you. You have to earn it.

“I think he can bring it. Carter (Pinske) and I have worked diligently, Andy as well, to get him to this point. Hopefully, we’re going to seal the deal these next couple months.”

Venerate, a son of French stallion Love You out of Peaceful Kemp, is owned by Pinske Stables and Andy Miller Stable Inc.

As for the colt’s miscue two weeks ago, Miller said, “It was just a hiccup. Andy went to move him and he got a little lost there. Let’s get the kinks out in those types of races and when the money is down, he’ll be there. I have all the confidence in the world in the horse, and I look for a good race this weekend.”

Rattle My Cage, also a son of Love You, was lightly raced at two, going winless in three starts. This season, he has won three of five races. He enters the Reynolds off back-to-back victories in conditioned events for three-year-olds at The Meadowlands, with his most recent triumph coming in 1:52 on June 18.

The colt, out of the mare Caress The Senses, is the 7-2 second choice behind Venerate on Saturday. He will leave from post three with Tim Tetrick driving for trainer Anette Lorentzon.

“He showed promise last year, but it felt like he wasn’t really ready for the races we were aiming for, so we backed off a little,” owner Perry Soderberg said. “Instead of looking at the Grand Circuit, we wanted to get a few starts into him at the end of the year just for education before turning him out.

“Anette has done a heck of a job bringing him back, very nicely done. We’re happy. When I bought him as a yearling, he was phenomenal in the paddock, so I knew he had the gait and attitude. We just wanted to wait for him a little bit and put him on a different path for a while. It seems to have paid off.”

Soderberg, who bought Rattle My Cage under the name Lexingtonian for $40,000 at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, hopes his colt’s path now continues to the Hambletonian.

“We paid him in, and I think he has the ability, but we just have to take it race by race and see what Anette and Tim think,” Soderberg said. “We’ll watch these (upcoming) races and see what happens.

“He doesn’t have the experience that some of the other ones have, but we gave him three weeks now and I think he’s fresh and sound and ready to go. Every race, I think he’s getting closer to the other ones in experience. I’m cautiously optimistic.”

The 3-1 morning line favourite in the first Reynolds division for colts and geldings is Dancinginthedark M. Tetrick will drive the colt for trainer Marcus Melander.

Also on tap Saturday are two divisions of the Reynolds Memorial for three-year-old female trotters. Lady Chaos, a Breeders Crown champ last season, is the 3-1 morning line favourite for driver David Miller and trainer Linda Toscano in the first. Anoka Hanover, the two-year-old filly Dan Patch Award winner, is the 3-1 choice in the second for driver Todd McCarthy and trainer Noel Daley.

Seventeen of the Reynolds fillies are eligible to the Hambletonian Oaks, which also makes them eligible to the Hambletonian if their connections decide to take on the boys.

Racing begins at 6:20 p.m. (EDT) at The Meadowlands on Saturday. The card also includes Graduate Series championships for four-year-old pacers and trotters in addition to two eliminations of the Meadowlands Pace for three-year-old pacers.