Uncle Peter and harness racing driver Ron Pierce won the first of three eliminations for the $1.5 million Hambletonian, to be raced on Aug. 4 at The Meadowlands, after a race with one lead change after another, in a time of 1:53.3.
Lindy's Jersey Boy was first to the lead at the :27.2 quarter, and in a split second after that mark, Pierce and Uncle Peter were off the rail and moving to the lead and holding -- until Banker Volo was up to challenge and had a nose in front by the :55.3 half. After that mark, Possess The Will was on the move from fifth, forcing Uncle Peter and Pierce to again challenge for and get the lead after the 1:24.4 three quarters.
Uncle Peter was 1-1/4 lengths to the good at the finish, with Money On My Mind (Andy Miller) a fast-closing second. Prestidigitator was third and in the final spot among those earning a Hambletonian Final spot. Lindy's Jersey Boy was fourth, but his earnings ($81,555) are too low to get a spot, as the final spot goes to the fourth place finisher with the highest career earnings.
Uncle Peter is trained by Jimmy Takter and owned by Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding and Falkbolagen of Sweden.
"It was a good race," said driver Ron Pierce said. "He wasn't tired. I don't know where the bottom is to this colt. He does get a little lazy and thinks the party's over. He's got a big tank."
"I think he's ready," Takter said. "The weather. We are lucky it didn't pour rain. He's racing with a special shoe. It makes him sluggish with a sticky track, but if rains happens Hambo day we have a problem."
Knows Nothing (Jody Jamieson) spilt horses in mid-stretch to win the second of three $70,000 Hambletonian eliminations, in a time of 1:53.2.
The undefeated Riccolo, making his first start for new owner Randi Haugesund and trainer Trond Smedshammer, was first to the lead with Smedshammer driving, hitting that mark in :27. They backed down the second quarter, hitting that mark in :56.2.
Stormin Normand (Dave Palone) was out at the five-eighths, jousting for the lead. Those two were head-and-head through the turn, hitting the three-quarters together in 1:25.3. They trotted together in the homestretch, when Jody Jamieson and Knows Nothing split those two tiring horses to take the lead and trot strongly to the wire to win by 1-1/4 lengths.
Knows Nothing is a son ofand is owned by Libfeld, Katz, Nichol, Gillis and Stay, all of Ontario.
"Those two; I was never thinking of coming," Jamieson said after the race. "Trond had a very good horse on the lead (Riccolo), but they weren't going any so I didn't want to compromise my horse and come first-up. The horse responded pretty much like he did all year. Every week he keeps impressing."
Asked when he thought this might be a Hambletonian horse Jamison said, "If you ask Jeff (trainer Jeff Gillis) he'd have said Hambletonian in Harrisburg a few years ago. He's done everything we asked of him, every start. It's way up there (on my wish list) to win the Hambletonian, even the elimination -- like there's nothing to it. Even though I'm talking a lot now, I'm kind of speechless."
"He had a bone chip last year," Gillis said. "We wanted to put him away and have a good chance at the 3-year-old year. We've been pretty excited about him. He had an impressive yearling video, trained down as one of the better colts before the setback so we've been excited from the get-go."
Guccio (Jimmy Takter) rallied late to be second and My MVP (Mike Lachance) was third. Stormin Normand was fourth and has more earnings than Lindy's Jersey Boy and more than any horse in the third and thus will advance to next week's final.
Market Share (Tim Tetrick) overtook a tiring in mid-stretch to win the third and final elimination in a career best 1:52. 2 for owner Richard Gutnick and trainer Linda Toscano.
Little Brown Fox had a nose in front from the outside at the :27 quarter, but soon went on a break, leaving Arch Angel to inherit the lead through the :55.4 half and the 1:25 three quarters. As the field hit the home stretch,had a slim lead, but Market Share passed him as he tired in mid-stretch to win by 2-1/4.
"We got a third quarter breather and it braved him right up," driver Tim Tetrick said.
"He's a real honest horse. He needs a trip. He loves to chase down a target and tonight everything went his way," trainer Linda Toscano said. "This is the Hambletonian, when you get one that far, it's awesome."
No female trainer has won The Hambletonian.
"It's virtually an impossible dream. Last year, with, I don't even remember it. It's like a blur. It was like a dream come true. It's what we do this for."
Also qualifying for The Hambletonian were second place finisherand Gym Tan Laundry (Noel Daley), who was third.
by Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communicaitons, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association