Day At The Track

Hambletonian hopefuls back in action

03:35 AM 21 Jul 2017 NZST
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International Moni
International Moni
Mark Hall Photo

As harness racing trainer Frank Antonacci says, the best way to make plans for horses is to plan to make new plans on a regular basis. George Ducharme would agree.

Both trainers had plans in place for Hambletonian hopefuls in their stables only to see those plans require unexpected alterations. Antonacci's stakes-winning International Moni suffered a bout of colic and was scratched from a July 8 prep for last weekend's Stanley Dancer Memorial, which he also missed as a result of the health scare.

Ducharme, on the other hand, got his hopeful --- Muscles Jared --- to the Dancer only to watch the gelding go off stride prior to the start and never get back to proper form. Ducharme had hoped to use the Dancer as a gauge whether to enter the horse in the Hambletonian.

International Moni and Muscles Jared will be back in action Saturday at the Meadowlands Racetrack, competing in a $15,000 trot for 3-year-olds. Seven of the eight horses in the race are eligible to the Hambletonian: International Moni, Muscles Jared, Thisguyisonfire, Giveitgasandgo, Sir John F, Di Oggi, and Enterprise.

The $1 million Hambletonian, the sport's premier event for 3-year-old trotters, is Aug. 5 at the Meadowlands.

International Moni, who is 2-for-2 this year and won the Goodtimes Stakes at Mohawk on June 17, qualified last weekend in 1:53.3 at the Meadowlands. The colt is a son of French sire Love You out of two-time Horse of the Year Moni Maker. He was bred by the Moni Maker Stable, which retains ownership.

"Knock on wood, crossed fingers, whatever you want to say, he's doing very well," Antonacci said. "He was going into that qualifier with no work of any real substance since the Goodtimes. I was very happy with how he performed that day. It seems like he recovered fully."

International Moni's bout of colic passed without the need for surgery.

"Fortunately we didn't have to intervene and everything rectified itself," Antonacci said. "It was one of those oddball, unexplainable kinds of incidents. For him to recover the way he did and a week later go out there and qualify the way he did I think is indicative of what a good horse he really is."

So is the way International Moni raced in his Goodtimes elimination and the final. In the elim, the colt came from eight-lengths back at three-quarters to win by a neck in 1:54. In the final, he rallied from fifth at the half to win in 1:52.4.

"Horses don't come from last and swoop the field to win anywhere, let alone at Mohawk," Antonacci said, referring to the elimination. "He's just a really, really good horse."

The "plan" for International Moni is to race Saturday and then get a week off before the Hambletonian.

"That would be the most logical plan at this point, but like I've said, plans change every day," Antonacci said. "There's no such thing as plans with live animals. You make plans and then you adjust every day."

Muscles Jared won multiple state-restricted stakes last year including the Massachusetts Sire Stakes championship. This year he suffered a setback because of sickness after returning north from winter training in Florida. He was edged out for a spot in the final of the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial and finished second by a nose in the consolation on July 1.

Ducharme was at loss to explain Muscle Jared's performance in the Dancer.

"I wish I had an explanation, but I don't," Ducharme said. "He's never done that before. I guess we'll just say he had one of those nights. That's why we put him right back in (to race)."

Muscles Jared is owned by Al Ross, who bred 2013 Hambletonian winner Royalty For Life and was among the horse's owners. Ducharme trained Royalty For Life.

Ducharme said Muscles Jared's Hambletonian future rested in his performance Saturday. The son of Muscle Massive-Tetiana has won six of 17 races, finished second on five occasions, and earned $191,765 in his career.

"He's going to have to trot and show us something," Ducharme said.

Saturday's card at the Meadowlands also includes the Tompkins-Geers Stakes for 3-year-old male trotters, which also features a number of Hambletonian-eligible horses. They are Wutan, Perfect Spirit, Dover Dan, Southwind Cobra, Southwind Woody, Earl Variera, Fly On, Southwind Hydro, and Catch The Game.

ROAD TO THE HAMBLETONIAN
A look at open stakes for 3-year-old male trotters
and state-restricted stakes featuring Hambletonian eligibles

Date - Track - Event - First - Second - Third
May 6 - Freehold - Dexter Cup - Lord Cromwell - Gustavo Fring - Southwind Cobra
May 19 - Meadowlands - NJSS - Long Tom - Yes Mickey - Deacon Tony
May 19 - Meadowlands - NJSS - What The Hill - Southwind Cobra - New Jersey Viking
May 20 - Meadows - PASS - Sortie - Giveitgasandgo - High Glider
May 20 - Meadows - PASS - Andy M - Gustavo Fring - Stealth Hanover
May 20 - Meadows - PASS - Common Parlance - Brown Bear - Brand New Key
May 29 - Vernon - NYSS - Stick With Me Kid - Bill's Man - Top Flight Angel
May 29 - Vernon - NYSS - Devious Man - Lord Cromwell - Aces And Eights
May 29 - Vernon - NYSS - Enterprise - Swell Chap - Meetmeinthemiddle
June 2 - Meadowlands - NJSS Final - Long Tom - King On The Hill - What The Hill
June 3 - Meadows - Currier & Ives - Fraser Ridge - Meme Hanover - Muay Hanover
June 3 - Meadows - Currier & Ives - Moonshiner Hanover - Giveitgasandgo - Lars Perry
June 3 - Meadows - Currier & Ives - Sortie - Dover Dan - Always A Good Time
June 9 - Mohawk - Goodtimes Elim - International Moni - Guardian Angel As - Jake
June 9 - Mohawk - Goodtimes Elim - Enterprise - AWOL Hanover - Shake It Off Lindy
June 9 - Vernon - EBC Elim - Bill's Man - Such An Angel - Stick With Me Kid
June 9 - Vernon - EBC Elim - Devious Man - Swell Chap - Lord Cromwell
June 10 - Pocono - PASS - Rubio - Muscles Jared - Di Oggi
June 10 - Pocono - PASS - Dover Dan - Moonshiner Hanover - Sir John F
June 10 - Pocono - PASS - Giveitgasandgo - President Lindy - Andy M
June 17 - Mohawk - Goodtimes - International Moni - Mass Production - Seven And Seven
June 18 - Vernon - Empire Breeders Classic - Devious Man - Bill's Man - Stick With Me Kid
June 24 - Pocono - Beal Elimination - Long Tom - Sortie - Lucky Matter
June 24 - Pocono - Beal Elimination - Perfect Spirit - Devious Man - Dover Dan
June 24 - Pocono - Beal Elimination - Ariana G* - Bill's Man - Moonshiner Hanover
July 1 - Pocono - Earl Beal Jr. Memorial - Devious Man - Long Tom - Ariana G*
July 9 - Pocono - PA All Stars - Two AM - Moonshiner Hanover - Di Oggi
July 9 - Pocono - PA All Stars - Dover Dan - Andy M - Shake It Off Lindy
July 9 - Pocono - PA All Stars - Giveitgasandgo - Explosive Ridge - Common Parlance
July 9 - Pocono - PA All Stars - Thisguyisonfire - Sir John F - Ataboy Hanover
July 15 - Meadowlands - Stanley Dancer Memorial - Walner - Devious Man - Bill's Man
July 15 - Meadowlands - Stanley Dancer Memorial - Long Tom - What The Hill - Meteoric
July 22 - Meadowlands - Tompkins-Geers -
July 29 - Meadowlands - Reynolds -
Aug. 5 - Meadowlands - Hambletonian -
Hambletonian eligible in bold
*Filly; also eligible to Hambletonian Oaks

Ken Weingartner

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