Vernon, NY – Headlined by the winners of the Hambletonian, the Colonial and the Beal Memorial, harness racing’s top three-year-old colts will do battle this Sunday at Vernon Downs in the $360,000 39th edition of the Zweig Memorial Trot.
The race is named after Dr. Harry M. Zweig, a distinguished veterinarian who played a pivotal role in improving Standardbred racing and breeding in New York State. Dr. Zweig passed away in 1977.
There are four Zweig Memorial trotting events on Sunday evening for three-year-olds with the $360,000 Zweig Open, the $150,000 Zweig Filly, a $75,000 Zweig consolation for colts and a $40,000 Zweig consolation race for fillies.
The main event has been programmed as the tenth race and features nine starters. Heading the field is New York sired Royalty For Life, the winner of the $1 million Hambletonian Trot on August 3 at the Meadowlands. Drawing the far outside post nine, Royalty For Life has won four of his eight starts this year and just over $1 million in career earnings. He will be driven by Brian Sears and is trained by George Ducharme.
Coming off the biggest triumph of his career last week is Spider Blue Chip and he will start from post for driver Ron Pierce. Last week the gelded son of Andover Hall captured the $500,000 Colonial Trot in world record time of 1:52.2. It was his sixth win in ten starts this year for trainer Chuck Sylvester and his fifth victory in his last seven starts.
Starting from post seven will be Corky, also a four-time winner in 2013, whose biggest victory this season was in the $500,000 Beal Memorial Final at Pocono Downs in late June. Sired by Muscles Yankee, Corky is trained by Jimmy Takter and will be driven by David Miller.
Another standout performer in the field is Smilin Eli from post three for driver Tim Tetrick. Also sired by Muscles Yankee, Smilin Eli was unraced as a two-year-old but started off 2013 with four straight wins. Since then he has been second in the Hambletonian and in the Colonial. He is trained by David Smith.
Rounding out the field are Jacks To Open (post 1), Aperfectyankee (post 2), Order By Keeper (post 4), Modest Prince (post 6) and Pine Credit (post 7). Nearly half the field (4) of the horses entered are New York sired. They are Order By Keeper, Jacks To Open, Modest Prince and Royalty For Life.
The eighth race $75,000 Zweig Memorial consolation also has nine starters headlined by Punxsutawney (post 3), who last week won the $100,000 Colonial consolation in a lifetime best 1:53.2.
The $150,000 Zweig Memorial Trot for fillies features the 2012 Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year, To Dream On, who starts from post seven for driver Yannick Gingras. The career winner of more than $824,000 has been off to a slow start in 2013 for trainer Jimmy Takter with just one win in eight starts.
The fastest filly in the field is Frau Blucher (and yes she is named after the nurse in the 1974 movie, Young Frankenstein) who earlier this season won in 1:52.3 at Pocono Downs for trainer Chris Oakes. The daughter of Broadway Hall has four wins in eight starts this year and career earnings of $620,000.
There is a three-horse entry due to common ownership with Shared Past (post 2), Curtsy Hanover (post 3) and Mistery Woman (post 4). Mistery Woman is the strongest of the entry having already won $166,000 this year.
Rounding out the field are Royal Assets (post 1), Handover Belle (post 5), Alphadoodle (post 6) and Palm Beach Chic (post 8).
In the sixth race $40,000 Zweig consolation for fillies, Time To Kill from post five is the class of the field with $406,000 in career earnings for trainer Ross Croghan. Despite being winless this season in eleven starts, Time To Kill has been racing week in and week out against the best fillies in the nation.
By Steve Wolf