Dan Patch freshman trotting colt Possess The Will tops a list of 108 trotting colts eligible to the 87th Hambletonian, the richest and most prestigious event in harness racing.
Possess The Will, from the first crop of 2007 Hambletonian winner, is owned by Jules Siegel’s Fashion Farm and trained by Jim Campbell. The colt annexed divisional honors with seven wins in 12 starts and earnings of $550,789.
The $1.7 million Hambletonian and the filly companion stakes, the $850,000 Hambletonian Oaks, will be raced on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 4, at the New Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, New Jersey. Eliminations, if necessary, will be raced Saturday, July 28.
“He’s coming back very well and I plan to qualify him about the second or third week in May,” said Campbell. “Everything has gone well with him so far and if it continues that way I think we would aim for the Beal Memorial [at Pocono Downs] as his first stake race. He was big horse to begin with but he’s grown and filled out even more this year – he’s really a big boy.”
Campbell and the Fashion Farms ownership also campaigned 1995 Hambletonian winnerand 2009 Hambletonian Oaks winner Broadway Schooner. Divisional champions have won three of the last five Hambletonians and Campbell hopes Possess The Will continues that trend.
“There’s no pressure, it’s just an honor, really to have a colt that raced like him last year,” continued Campbell. “A top contender at two returning as a three-year-old is not always easy to do. But he has always been a good natured, good acting horse and a real pleasure to be around.”
Uncle Peter, the two-year-old Breeders Crown winner over Possess The Will, is also among the eligibles. Both colts were ranked behind a pair of fillies -- Win Missy B and Check Me Out -- in the new Hoof Beats/Trackmaster Predictive Ratings, a computer-generated ranking system based on speed ratings, track variant and post position.
The Hambletonian Society, which has owned and serviced the race since its inception in 1926, received 213 total payments for the 2012 Hambletonian and Oaks events, hosted by the Meadowlands Racetrack since 1981. There are no supplemental entries permitted in the Hambletonian and Oaks, nor are participants allowed to race on Lasix or Butazolidin.
They are the only events in North American horse racing that prohibit the use of any race day medication, currently a subject of intense discussion throughout the industry.
The Hambletonian trail commences Saturday, May 5, with the Dexter Cup at Freehold Raceway.
The Hambletonian is the second leg of trotting's Triple Crown. The first, the Yonkers Trot, takes place Saturday, July 7 at Yonkers Raceway. The third leg, the Kentucky Futurity, is scheduled to be raced Sunday, Oct. 7 in Lexington. The last trotter to win the Triple Crown wasin 2006.