Day At The Track

2017 Hambletonian disqualification saga is over

08:08 AM 12 Apr 2019 NZST
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Perfect Spirit with trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt,Harness racing
Perfect Spirit with trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt

The finish of the August 5, 2017 $1 million Hambletonian, was the subject of two judge's inquiries, and resulted in the winner of the richest race for sophomore trotters being disqualified and placed out of the money for the first time in Hambletonian history.

The appeal of that judge's decision has been finalized and purse monies from the event held 18 months ago were recently order disbursed by the NJ Racing Commission.

What The Hill, driven by Dave Miller and trained by Ron Burke, was fourth in his Hambletonian elimination heat, but came roaring back in the final heat of the Hambletonian to win in 1:52.3. The inquiry light was flashed and after reviewing the race for two incidents - International Moni's break in the first turn and Guardian Angel AS going off stride in the stretch - both were deemed interference breaks, and What The Hill was placed ninth behind Guardian Angel AS, who galloped when the wheel of What The Hill's sulky struck his hoof.

Second-place finisher Perfect Spirit, driven and trained by Ake Svanstedt, was placed first, his owners SRF Stable entered the winner circle and accepted the Hambletonian trophy, and they will now receive the disputed part of the purse totaling $275,000 as well.

The judge's ruling, which also suspended David Miller for three days for careless driving, was appealed and eventually heard by the Office of Administrative Law as a contested case.

In a ruling dated March 26, 2019, the NJ Racing Commission adopted the decision of the Administrative Law Judge, which confirmed the initial judge's ruling and ordered the purse money held in escrow be paid. The earnings of the participants and the race history will now officially reflect the following in finish order:

Perfect Spirit receives difference between 2nd and 1st place money: $275,000.00

Devious Man receives the difference between 3rd and 2nd place money: $117,000.00

Enterprise receives the difference between 4th and 3rd place money: $36,000.00

Bills Man receives the difference between 5th and 4th place money: $27,000.00

Victor Gio T receives the difference between 5th and 6th place money. $35,000.00.

The remaining 6-10 finishers, including What The Hill who was placed 9th, received the $10,000 starter's share of the purse.

 

What The Hill went on to win the Canadian Trotting Classic and Breeders Crown as well as the TVG against older trotters, and was voted Dan Patch honoree for his division. Now standing at Hickory Lane Farm in Ohio, he attracted 140 mares in his first year at stud and will welcome his first foal crop this year.

Perfect Spirit continues to race as 5-year-old in Sweden and has earned over $1 million.

 

Moira Fanning

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