Check Me Out and harness racing driver Tim Tetrick won the first of two elimination races to decide the field for the Hambletonian Oaks on Aug. 4 at The Meadowlands in a time of 1:53.4.
Tetrick took the 1-9 favorite off the leaders in the opening phase of the race, sitting in third throughout the early fractions, set by Holier Than Thou (Jimmy Takter), at the quarter in :28.1 and the half in :57.1.
Just past the half, Tetrick tipped Check Me Out off the rail and into the lead by halfway through the final turn and the 1:25.4 three-quarters. They had an unchallenged lead to the finish, winning by two lengths. Check Me Out is trained by Ray Schnittker and co-owned by him and Charles Ianazzo.
Asked after the race about the decision to race in the Oaks versus taking on the colts, Tetrick said, "I told Ray I stand behind him 100 percent no matter what. It's great to be in either one. I played it by ear, I didn't want to get in a big tussle race and she loves passing horses. We got the win so we can pick our post position so that definitely helps. Anywhere in the middle three, four, five."
Asked about the experience of driving such a dominant filly, with only three career losses in 22 starts, Tetrick said, "And the two losses or the three losses were my fault. She's special for us fans to get to watch her."
Qualifying for the Oaks Final, in order of finish behind Check Me Out, were Uncommon Night, Superstar Hanover, Holier Than Thou and Sassy Syrinx.
Maven (Yannick Gingras) wore down the leader, Win Missy B (Brian Sears), to win the second of two elimination races for a spot in the $714,050 Hambletonian Oaks Final.
Sears took Win Missy B right to the lead, hitting the quarter in :27.2 and leading the field to the :56.2 half. As the field headed for the final turn and the three-quarter mark, Gingras hustled Maven off the rail and was even with Win Missy B by the 1:24 three-quarters and then wore her down in mid-stretch to win by three lengths, in 1:52.4, a career mark for the daughter of. W.J. Donovan owns the filly and Jonas Czernyson trains Maven.
"I was pretty confident I could reel her (Win Missy B) in," Gingras said. "I didn't want him to get too much of a jump on me. I am very confident with this filly. She has a huge kick."
Win Missy B also qualified for the Oaks final by virtue of her second place finish as did those who finished behind her, in this order, Personal Style, Dream On Hanover and Real Babe.
by Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communicaitons, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association