Day At The Track

Melander pair are ready for Hambletonian

06:43 AM 04 Aug 2017 NZST
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Marcus Melander with Long Tom
Marcus Melander with Long Tom, who has seven lifetime wins and $335,970 in career earnings.

Trenton, NJ --- Marcus Melander has never won a Hambletonian but the 25-year-old harness racing trainer has the essence of Hambo greatness surrounding his entire being. And while the Swede does not have a favorite in Saturday’s $1.2 million Hambletonian Stakes for 3-year-olds at the Meadowlands, he does have a Tim Tetrick-driven horse in each elimination getting pretty good odds.

In the 10-horse division (race nine), Enterprise is 9/2, with only Devious Man (5/2) and What The Hill (3/1) being given better chances.

Enterprise, who outgrew an immature streak after racing only once as a 2-year-old, won his first five career starts. A son of Chapter Seven out of the mare Shes Gone Again, Enterprise is a half-brother to New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Guess Whos Back and his family includes Dan Patch and O’Brien Award winner Poof She’s Gone. Enterprise was purchased for $100,000 at the 2015 Lexington Selected Sale.

“Enterprise raced last week and was a little short,” said Melander, who began training the horse late last summer. “He got beat by a good horse, though (fellow Hambletonian starter International Moni). I was happy with him, but he needed that race for sure. I think that race will put him forward for the Hambletonian. He was a little sick up there in Canada (when he finished fourth in the Goodtimes final on June 17) so maybe he missed a little too much, had a race less (than hoped). But I still think he will be a hundred percent.”

In the nine-horse division (race eight), Long Tom is at 3/1 odds, second best on the board behind favored International Moni (5/2). The colt, who came to Melander from Europe in April 2016, was this year’s New Jersey Sire Stakes champion at the Meadowlands.

“Long Tom hasn’t raced since the Stanley Dancer (July 15), but he came out of that race very good,” Melander said. “I’m very happy with him. He’s been training great. There’s nothing to complain about there.”

The trainer’s optimism should be taken seriously if exposure to Hambo success stories have any bearing on the matter.

Marcus’ uncle, Stefan Melander, won the 2001 Hambletonian as trainer and driver with Scarlet Knight. Marcus worked with Stefan in Sweden and after moving to the U.S. from Stockholm with his family in 2014, Marcus began working for trainer Jimmy Takter, a four-time Hambletonian winner. His family purchased the farm in New Egypt that was previously owned by the late, legendary Stanley Dancer, who shares the record for Hambletonian training victories with five.

And finally, the guy in the sulky is no Hambo Day slouch. The 35-year-old Tetrick won the 2012 Hambletonian with Market Share and drove to second-place finishes with Crazed in 2008 and Smilin Eli in 2013. In 2007 he won a single-season record 1,189 races, is a four-time U.S. Harness Writers Association Driver of the Year (most recently in 2013) and stands fifth all-time in earnings with $182 million.

Melander knew of them all while growing up in Sweden, as he stayed up throughout the night to follow the results of United States harness racing while making a name for himself as a driver in Europe. At age 19, Marcus won Sweden’s equivalent to the USHWA’s Rising Star Award and had just over 100 wins before moving to America.

Now, he is precariously close to realizing every Standardbred trainer’s dream in what he feels is anyone’s race.

“The best horse (Walner) is not in, so it’s like a wide-open race now,” Melander said. “It’s 10 horses that can win it. It was Walner before, who was No. 1, and then numbers two to 10. All of them were as good as each other. It will be the horse with the best trip. You need to be lucky when they draw and everything like that. It’s wide open, really.”

Melander feels the set-up, which requires the eliminations and the final to be contested the same day, could favor his horses. The top five finishers in each elimination reach the final.

“I think that would be good for both of them because they’re both strong horses,” he said. “I think they are both a hundred percent. I’m very happy with both of them.”

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

 

by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

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