Manhardt may very well be the dark horse candidate in the Presidential Series at the Meadowlands.
Trainer Jim Eaton admits to being skeptical about Manhardt's potential after he and longtime partner Robert Silberberg, a CPA, purchased the colt for $40,000 at the 2006 Harrisburg Mixed Sale.
He had expected the bidding to go considerably higher on the son of.
"Our price range is about $30,000 to $70,000," Eaton said.
"When we got him for $40,000 we looked at each other wondered what was wrong with him. We didn't expect him to turn out this, and we were very happy with his numbers last year. It's been a pleasant surprise to say the least. He's been very consistent, and I think he's grown up and filled out from when we first got him. It was just the natural three to four-year-old progression."
Manhardt won eight of 27 starts and $157,965 during his 4-year-old season in 2007. Although he was a consistent check-earner in the free for all ranks in Chicago, Manhardt surprised his trainer when he rallied to win his division of the Presidential last week in 1:51.3.
On Saturday night, he will face Jilliby Generator andin the $50,000 second leg of the series.
"I don't think the Presidential has come up quite as strong as it has been, but on the other hand most of the real tough ones were in the other division last week," he said.
"I thought if he got a trip he'd make a good showing. I didn't expect him to win. The horse had a lot of pace once he got through. We did get kind of lucky because he never had to leave the rail.
"We had shipped him out there the Sunday before, we jogged him on Monday and I trained him pretty well on Tuesday," he continued. "He had kind of a stressful week, and now with the trip over the track he should be even better."
Eaton also has a pair of pacers entered in the Clyde Hirt Series on Friday night at the Meadowlands.
Kinnick finished third in the opening round of the Clyde Hirt after a three-week layoff. A $27,000 yearling purchase, the 4-year-old son ofhas finished third or better in 13 of 25 career starts.
"Kinnick hadn't raced in a while prior to the first leg of the Clyde Hirt Series," he noted. "He tied up and that was something he's never done before. I had to scratch him sick so we could figure it out and get him in better shape to ship out there. We can treat it with medication and turning them out helps, too.
Kinnick drew into the toughest of the Clyde Hirt divisions this week. Panaramic Art, winner of 16 straight races, is among the competitors he will face in the fourth race.
"I thought he raced well in his first start over the Meadowlands," continued. "That series has come up tougher this year than it has in the past. With post 10 and Panaramic Art on the rail, I think we're looking for a check. He's also in the Sr. Trendsetter Series."
Eaton's other Clyde Hirt entrant, Kings Road, is more seasoned than his stablemate with 45 career starts, but he has been more of a challenge to work with.
"He's a very fast horse, but he's a bit of a head case," he said. "He grabs on and went through spells where he was almost unmanageable. I tried everything, then went back to a regular bridle and driver Dale Hiteman worked with him to get him to sit in a hole in a race. Finally, after about eight to 10 starts like that, the horse started coming around and behaving himself."
Kings Road closed from tenth at the top of the stretch to finish fourth in the Clyde Hirt last week. He drew better this week and will leave from post four in race 10 on Friday night.
"I was very happy with the way Kings Road raced last week," Eaton said.
"He sat last most of the mile, tenth in an 11-horse field. Once he got loose he had quite a lot of go. He's another one that probably just needed a start over the Meadowlands track and he draws better on Saturday."
Eaton is stabled at Balmoral Park outside Chicago, Illinois. He sent a small string of horses with his assistant Scott Henning to compete in the winter series at the Meadowlands.
United States Trotting Association President Phil Langley is among Eaton's roster of owners.
Eaton's biggest success recently is Thisbigdogwilfight, a $7,000 yearling who has banked $439,064.
"He made $244,348 [in Chicago] last year and in our purse situation, that is pretty good," Eaton said.
"Three weeks ago I thought we were a cinch to get slots here in Illinois because they were looking for something to bail out the Chicago Transit Authority. They were going to get Chicago a land-based casino and the tracks were going to be tied into that. But now they have come up with another plan, so now it's on the back burner."
Meadowlands Media Department