East Rutherford, NJ -- Smilin Eli, one of the early favorites for the $1.2 Hambletonian Trot on August 3, was scratched from a qualifying race Saturday morning at the Meadowlands.
Amidst major controversy this past week and a change in trainers, Smilin Eli was entered in the 11th race qualifying trot as a warm-up prior to starting in the Hambletonian. It was rumored Friday evening that the three-year-old colt, owned and bred by Nicholas Cimino of Pompano Beach, FL, was ill.
Smilin Eli does not have to compete in the qualifying race in order to be entered in the Hambletonian. His last pari-mutuel start was on June 29 when his four-race unbeaten streak came to a halt in the $500,000 Beal Memorial Trot with a fifth place finish and he was reported to be sick after that race by his trainer.
His current trainer, Dave Smith, was unreachable for comment.
By Steve Wolf