Day At The Track

International Moni aims for Hambletonian glory

05:49 AM 03 Aug 2017 NZST
Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print
International Moni and Carlos Aguilar
International Moni and Carlos Aguilar
Mark Hall Photo

It was two years ago during a dinner in Lexington when harness racing trainer Frank Antonacci and driver Scott Zeron first discussed the idea of Zeron wearing the Antonacci family's Lindy Farms colors sometime in the future. Antonacci and Zeron both thought it would be a fun idea with the right horse at the right time.

International Moni proved to be the right horse. The Hambletonian Stakes trail proved to be the right time. And on Saturday, Zeron will put aside his own blue, white and red colors for the black, blue and white of Lindy Farms and sit behind International Moni in the first of two $100,000 Hambletonian eliminations as the 5-2 morning-line favorite at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey.

"A lot of times it doesn't work out this way," Antonacci said with a laugh, "but so far it's been OK."

International Moni, who is undefeated in three races this year, is a son of French stallion Love You out of the two-time Horse of the Year Award-winning mare Moni Maker.

Moni Maker was a star for the Antonacci family and owned by the Moni Maker Stable until her passing in 2014. International Moni is also owned by the Moni Maker Stable, which bred the colt. The Moni Maker Stable includes Antonacci's father, also Frank, Gerald Antonacci, and David Reid.

The Antonacci family and/or its Lindy Racing have been involved in the ownership of five Hambletonian winners: Lindy's Pride (1969), Speedy Crown (1971), Probe (1989), Harmonious (1990) and Victory Dream (1994).

"This horse means so much to them, he's such a global horse," Zeron said about International Moni. "We both agreed (wearing the Lindy colors) would be something cool. It was never an issue. I don't mind representing them. I'm racing for them and they've been so good to me over the years. I love driving for them and this means a lot to them."

Said Antonacci, "This is a collaboration. Scott has been a great sport about it and is willing to try new things. This is a fun endeavor that I think is one worth talking about as a sport and put out there as an option for owners. Not everybody has to do it, but it should be something that's on the table for people, especially with their very good horses."

Harness racing drivers typically wear their own colors, unlike Thoroughbred jockeys who wear the colors of each horse's owner. The Lindy colors worn by Zeron are similar to jockey silks in that they are skin tight rather than the looser fitting colors worn regularly by drivers.

"(Antonacci) said our racing colors are like parachutes, and they are kind of baggy," Zeron said. "He's looking for every inch he can get on that racetrack. He said, if this will give us one extra inch, it's worth it."

Of course, the first time Zeron wore the Lindy colors with International Moni, the colt won his elimination for the Goodtimes Stakes at Mohawk by a neck after charging through the stretch to overcome a six-length deficit.

"That was irony," Zeron said with a laugh.

International Moni won the Goodtimes Stakes final on June 17, but suffered a bout of colic in early July that forced him to miss the Stanley Dancer Memorial, expected to be the colt's final Hambletonian prep, at the Meadowlands on July 15.

He bounced back with a career-best 1:52 win July 22 in a 3-year-old open at the Meadowlands.

He will start his Hambletonian elimination from post five.

"It's nice to be in the middle of the pack," Antonacci said. "I think we're in a good spot. He's a really handy horse, so whatever Scott is going to want to do he's going to be able to do from there, which is nice.

"He's just a really, really good horse, hopefully on his way to being a great horse. The great ones, and the very good ones, they overcome adversity. He did that. I think that bodes well for his future."

Zeron won last year's Hambletonian, and eventually the Trotting Triple Crown, with Marion Marauder. He is attempting to become the first driver to win the Hambletonian in consecutive years since John Campbell in 1987-88.

Antonacci also sends out Shake It Off Lindy, in the second Hambletonian elimination. Shake It Off Lindy and driver Brett Miller will start from post four and are 20-1 on the morning line.

"He's just an honest, good horse," Antonacci said. "He's never really gotten a spot where he's gotten a trip. I think he's the type of horse that if he trips out he could grab a big piece. Hopefully we make the final and get a good trip worked out and maybe surprise people or pick up a bunch of pieces."

The Hambletonian format calls for eliminations to be contested the same day as the final. A total of 19 horses entered this year's event, requiring two $100,000 eliminations from which the top five finishers in each division advance to the final. Elimination winners draw for inside posts 1-5 and all other finalists will then be placed in an open draw. The winner of the $1 million final is the Hambletonian champion.

CBS Sports Network will air live coverage of the Hambletonian from 4:00-5:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. The Sam McKee Memorial (formerly U.S. Pacing Championship) and Hambletonian Oaks also will be featured during the 90-minute broadcast. First race post time on Hambletonian Day is noon. The Hambletonian final is 5:11 p.m.

Following are the Hambletonian elimination fields.

Hambletonian Elimination (race eight)

PP-Horse-Sire-Dam Sire-Driver-Trainer-Line

1 - Southwind Woody by Muscle Hill from a Pine Chip mare - Matt Kakaley - Ron Burke - 12/1

2 - Bill’s Man by Credit Winner from a Yankee Glide mare - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen - 5/1

3 - Guardian Angel AS by Archangel from an Allstar Hall mare - Jason Bartlett - Anette Lorentzon - 10/1

4 - Giveitgasandgo by Yankee Glide from an Andover Hall mare - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen - 8/1

5 - International Moni by Love You from a Speedy Crown mare - Scott Zeron - Frank Antonacci - 5/2

6 -Stealth Hanover by Andover Hall from a Credit Winner mare - Francisco Del Cid - Francisco Del Cid - 30/1

7 - Victor Gio It by Ready Cash from a Pine Chip mare - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter - 6/1

8 - Long Tom by Muscle Hill from a Windsong’s Legacy mare - Tim Tetrick - Marcus Melander - 3/1

9 - Jake by Muscle Hill from an Andover Hall mare - Dan Dube - Luc Blais - 8/1

 

Hambletonian Elimination (race nine)

PP-Horse-Sire-Dam Sire-Driver-Trainer-Line

1 - What The Hill by Muscle Hill from an Angus Hall mare - David Miller - Ron Burke - 3/1

2 - Seven And Seven by Chapter Seven from a Kadabra mare - David Miller - Tom Durand - 8/1

3 - Sortie by Explosive Matter from a Tagliabue mare - Andy McCarthy - Noel Daley - 10/1

4 -Shake it Off Lindy by Crazed from a Love You mare - Brett Miller - Frank Antonacci - 20/1

5 - Dover Dan by Andover Hall from a Royal Troubador mare - Brian Sears - John Butenschoen - 8/1

6 - Enterprise by Chapter Seven from a SJ’s Caviar mare - Tim Tetrick - Marcus Melander - 9/2

7 - Southwind Cobra by Muscle Hill from a Broadway Hall mare - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 15/1

8 - Achille Duharas by Andover Hall from a Pine Chip mare - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter - 20/1

9 - Devious Man by Credit Winner from a Garland Lobell mare - Andy Miller - Julie Miller-5/2

10 - Perfect Spirit by Andover Hall from a Kadabra mare - Ake Svanstedt - Ake Svanstedt - 12/1

 

Ken Weingartner

Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print

Read More News About...

Stallion Name

Next article: