July 27, 2014 – The Meadow’s Adios Card is in the books and at the end of the day Handicapper Ray Cotolo reigned supreme for the week in HANA Harness’ Grand Circuit Handicapping Shoot-Out Contest with a weekly net profit of $305, nearly $100 ahead of his closest opponent. While Cotolo is a newcomer to the list of weekly winners, Bob Zanakis continues his run as overall leader with a combined net profit of $3,000.70 ($140 for the week), leading second place Brandon Valvo by $607.20. This week, the adage it only takes one hit to make you a winner applies as Cotolo’s victory came thanks to a single wager, a $150 win wager on Allstar Rating in the Adioo Volo which returned a $705 dividend. Other handicappers had winners, but due to the short-priced nature of the card, significant winners were at a premium, amongst them were: Derick Giwner’s $150 Win ticket on Too Darn Hot in the second division of the Adren Downs 2yo C&G pace paid $480; Mark McKelvie’s $50 Win ticket on Rich Wisdom in the first division of the Arden Downs for 2yo C& G pacers paid $195; Rusty Nash’s $100 wager on the same horse paid $390; Dennis O’Hara ‘s $10 Exacta part wheel ($30 total) in the first division of the Arden Downs for 3yo Filly trotters returned $125; Josie Verlingierli $40 straight wager on the second division of the Arden Downs 2yo C&G pace, earned $156; Gordon Waterstone’s $50 Exacta in the third division of Arden Downs 2yo C&G pace which returned $115. As the Hambletonian marks the unofficial mid-point in the stakes season, the standings for the Handicapper Shoot-Out at the mid-point are: As of July 26, 2014 - Leg 19 Pos Handicapper Week Gain Net Profit Behind 1st Bob Zanakis $140.00 $3,000.70 2nd Brandon Valvo $50.00 $2,393.50 $607.20 3rd Derick Giwner $206.00 $623.17 $2,377.53 4th Ray Garnett ($218.00) $15.85 $2,984.85 5th Mark McKelvie ($119.50) ($91.50) $3,092.20 6th Brian McEvoy $7.50 ($185.00) $3,185.70 7th Earl Paulson ($71.00) ($437.00) $3,437.70 8th Josi Verlingieri ($126.00) ($956.40) $3,957.10 9th Gordon Waterstone $108.60 ($989.30) $3,990.00 10th Ann Stepien ($189.00) ($1,020.11) $4,020.81 11th Garnet Barnsdale ($280.00) ($1,078.00) $4,078.70 12th Sally Hinckley ($400.00) ($1,325.00) $4,325.70 13th Rusty Nash $160.00 ($1,712.40) $4,713.10 14th Dennis O'Hara $30.50 ($2,097.70) $5,098.40 15th Ray Cotolo $305.00 ($3,398.40) $6,399.10 This week, the Grand Circuit Handicapper Shoot-Out visits Meadowlands Racing & Gaming for the Hambletonian Day card amongst which are the $1.2 million Hambletonian, $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, $352,050 Merrie Annabelle, $355,500 Peter Haughton Memorial, $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship, $177,750 Lady Liberty, and $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial. For more information regarding the handicapping contest, please visit http://hanaharnesscontest.blogspot.com. by Allan Schott, for HANA
SHAKE IT CERRY EASY WINNER IN HAMBO OAKS PREP
Intimidate followed his most lackluster performance of the year with a stunning victory in the Maple Leaf Trot last weekend and trainer Luc Blais is hopeful the 5-year-old trotter can keep the momentum going in Saturday's first of two eliminations for the John Cashman Jr. Memorial at the Meadowlands. The Cashman, formerly known as the Nat Ray, attracted 15 horses, including world champion Sebastian K. The top five from two $50,000 eliminations will advance to the $300,650 final on Aug. 2, Hambletonian Day, at the Big M. It is an accomplished group, with Sebastian K being history's fastest trotter and 10 of the remaining horses having won at least one Breeders Crown, Maple Leaf Trot, or Trotting Triple Crown race. Intimidate, who won the 2012 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male trotters and the 2013 Credit Winner, edged previously unbeaten Sebastian K by a nose to win the Maple Leaf in 1:54.2 on a sloppy track. Intimidate was 47-1. "It was an amazing feeling again," said Blais, who trains Intimidate for Serge Godin's Determination stable and Judith Farrow. Blais and Farrow bred the son of stallion Justice Hall and mare Fabulous Tag. "That (Maple Leaf) was an amazing win. "He was just so-so in the elimination but came back good. I think Sylvain Filion gave him a perfect drive. I think everything was perfect that night. At that level, you need everything perfect." Intimidate finished fifth in his Maple Leaf elimination, losing 3-1/2 lengths in the stretch, but Blais says the horse was still feeling the effects of a quarter-crack on a front foot. "I think the foot wasn't right-right," said Blais, a native of Quebec. "We worked very much on his foot and the quarter-crack looked better (in the Maple Leaf final). That's time. You need time to repair that. Now he looks sound. I don't know if he's a hundred percent, but he looks better than before, that's for sure." Intimidate has won three of seven races this season and earned $326,070. For his career, he has won 24 of 36 starts and banked $923,628. His only off-the-board finishes this year came in his Maple Leaf elim and in the final of the Cutler Memorial, where he had a three-wide trip. "I think in the Cutler we had no luck," Blais said. "After that he came back and won the preferred at Mohawk. He hasn't raced a bad race, except maybe the elimination of the Maple Leaf. That was the only race that I think wasn't right." Ron Pierce will drive Intimidate on Saturday night, leaving from post four as the 2-1 second choice on the morning line. Market Share, from post one, is the 8-5 favorite. The remainder of the field, from the inside, is Your So Vain, Spider Blue Chip, Sevruga, Archangel, and Royalty For Life. The second division, from the rail, is Mister Herbie, Wishing Stone, Sweet Justice, Uncle Peter, Sebastian K, Appomattox, Arch Madness, and Creatine. The group has five Breeders Crown trophies (Uncle Peter, Arch Madness, Intimidate, Spider Blue Chip, and Market Share), four Maple Leaf Trot titles (Arch Madness, Mister Herbie, Market Share, and Intimidate), two Hambletonian triumphs (Market Share and Royalty For Life), two Kentucky Futurity wins (Wishing Stone and Creatine) and one Yonkers Trot (Archangel). "That's a nice bunch of horses this year," Blais said. "The competition is very high level. I think that's good for the game; it's good for the show. People want to see that." Saturday's card at the Meadowlands also includes a $35,000 Hambletonian Oaks prep for 3-year-old female trotters and $40,000 single elimination for the Lady Liberty for older female pacers. Nine of the 11 fillies entered in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, which is Aug. 2, will compete in Saturday's prep. Ten mares are in the Lady Liberty elimination, with Rocklamation receiving a bye to next week's final. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
This Week: Delvin Miller Adios final, Adioo Volo and Arden Downs, The Meadows, Washington, Pa.; John Cashman Jr. Memorial, Lady Liberty, Peter Haughton Memorial and Merrie Annabelle eliminations, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit actions kicks off this Friday (July 25) at The Meadows with four divisions in the $80,000 Arden Downs for 2-year-old colt trotters and three divisions in the $60,000 Arden Downs for 2-year-old filly trotters. The Saturday (July 26) card at The Meadows features the $400,000 Delvin Miller Adios final and $30,000 Adios consolation for 3-year-old colt pacers, a single division in the $114,175 Adioo Volo for 3-year-old filly pacers, three divisions in the $75,000 Arden Downs for 2-year-old colt pacers, two divisions in the $75,000 Arden Downs for 2-year-old filly pacers, two divisions in the $65,310 Arden Downs for 3-year-old colt trotters and two divisions in the $54,952 Arden Downs for 3-year-old filly trotters. Meadowlands Racetrack will offer four sets of elimination races this week, with all the finals slated for the Hambletonian card of Saturday (Aug. 2). On Friday, the Meadowlands will host two $20,000 eliminations in the Merrie Annabelle for 2-year-old filly trotters and a single $20,000 elimination in the Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old colt trotters. On Saturday the program will feature two $50,000 eliminations in the John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters and a single $40,000 elimination in the Lady Liberty for older pacing mares. Complete entries for the races are available at this link. Last time: Intimidate, trained by Luc Blais and driven by Sylvain Filion, pulled off a 45-1 upset over the heavily favored Sebastian K in the $560,790 Maple Leaf Trot this past Saturday at Mohawk Racetrack. Intimidate won the Maple Leaf Trot by a nose over Sebastian K. Sent postward as the 1-5 favorite, Sebastian K got away in second behind post ten starter Modern Family who was sent hard to the lead over the 'sloppy' track to post an opening quarter of :26.4. In the second quarter, trainer-driver Ake Svandstedt sent Sebastian K to the lead and controlled the race through the middle half with fractions of :57.3 and 1:26.4. Intimidate got away in sixth and picked up cover in the second quarter behind Flanagan Memory and was towed around the final turn second-over and just a few lengths away from Sebastian K. In the stretch, Sebastian K continued to dig in and tried to hold off his challengers, but Intimidate in the final stride nailed the heavy favorite to win the 63rd edition of the Maple Leaf Trot in 1:54.2. Market Share, the 2013 Maple Leaf Trot winner, came off the rail and made a late charge on the far outside to finish third. The Maple Leaf Trot victory was the third win in seven starts this season for Intimidate, a 5-year-old son of Justice Hall-Fabulous Tag, owned by Determination and Judith Farrow. In other Grand Circuit action over the weekend, Clear Vision broke the Northfield Park track record for older pacing geldings, posting a 1:49.3 win in the 29th edition of the $150,000 Battle of Lake Erie. Clear Vision (Western Hanover-Artistic Vision) is owned by the partnership of Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, The Panhellenic Stable and James Koran. He is trained by Ron Burke, who called upon Brett Miller to drive. Clear Vision started from post four and immediately advanced a position when Bolt The Duer made an uncharacteristic break to his inside. He was still sitting third at the :26.2 opening quarter. Miller pulled Clear Vision in the second panel and he remained first-over through times of :54.2 and 1:22. Clear Vision locked horns with pacesetter Night Pro in the last turn and bested him by two lengths in the stretch, stopping the timer at 1:49.3. Foiled Again finished third. In The Arsenal (Eric Goodell) never had an anxious moment this past Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $125,000 final of the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace in 1:56.4. In the Arsenal opened 2-3/4 lengths on the field in and out of the final turn. A pocketed Rock N' Roll World cosmetically cut the final margin down to three-quarters of a length in 1:56.4. Third went to a stubborn Parklane Eagle. Second choice In the Arsenal, a White Birch Farm homebred son of American Ideal-Ladyotra trained by Kelvin Harrison, returned $6.30 for his second win in three seasonal/career starts. Complete recaps of all the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2014 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend. Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 437; 2. Tim Tetrick - 434; 3. Ron Pierce - 292; 4. Brian Sears - 205; 5. George Brennan - 174.5. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 767.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 397; 3. PJ Fraley - 189; 4. Ray Schnittker - 184; 5. Joe Holloway - 152. Owners: 1. Burke Racing - 177.8; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 160.3; 3. Bamond Racing - 146.5; 4. 3 Brothers Stable - 92; 5. Brad Grant - 79.5. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next weekend at Meadowlands Racetrack, Balmoral Park and Tioga Downs. Meadowlands Racetrack will host nine Grand Circuit events, led by the $1.2 million Hambletonian, the first leg of Trotting's Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. Balmoral Park will contest Hanover Stakes for 2-year-old colt and filly pacers and trotters. Tioga Downs will race Tompkins-Geers stakes for 2-year-old colt and filly pacers. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit
East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands has been a proud host to The Hambletonian for the past 34 years as America's Trotting Classic has been calling East Rutherford, New Jersey home since 1981. This year delivers a new and exciting aspect to The Hambletonian as it will be the first to be raced out of the brand new $100 Million facility which opened November, 2013. Hambletonian week begins on Saturday July 26th with the eliminations for The Hambletonian Oaks, John Cashman Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship and Lady Liberty. The evening will be centered around the theme of "Ladies Night," including a concert in the Backyard by Lisa Matassa, Macy's Gift Card and Ladies Handbag drawings as well as a special Ladies' Night cocktail. Reserved seats and packages for Hambletonian Day, Saturday August 2nd will be on sale all week at a price of $10.00 for an outdoor seat. Indoor grandstand seating is already sold out. Please call (201) 460-4079 for tickets. Tuesday, July 29th will feature the post position draw for the 89th Hambletonian. Once again, the draw will be raced in "heat format", with same day eliminations. If 13 horses or less enter The Hambletonian, it will be contested as one dash for $1.2 Million. The post position draw will take place at Victory Sports Bar at 4:00 P.M. After the post position draw, Casino Night will follow in The Lounge and The Gallery, beginning at 5:30 P.M. Casino night will benefit The Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame as well as the Standardbred Retirement Foundation. Racing begins on Friday August 1st at 7:15 P.M. The racing program will feature the Townsend Ackerman, Duenna Invitational, Hambletonian Amateur Drivers, Kindergarten Classic and Hambletonian Racing Under Saddle event. Advance wagering on the entire Hambletonian Day program will begin at 12:00 P.M., Friday. Hambletonian Day begins with doors opening at 10:00 A.M, with admission of $5. All paid adult guests will receive a Hambletonian baseball cap, while paid children will receive a Hambletonian lunch bag. WFAN will be broadcasting in The Backyard from 10:00 through 12:30 P.M. For our younger guests, there will be Kiddie Rides, Face Painters and Pony Rides from 11:00 A.M. through 4:00 P.M. First race post time is scheduled for 12:00 P.M. Live music will begin at 12:00 P.M. as well. The Hambletonian national broadcast will be aired on CBS Sports Network from 4:00 - 5:30 P.M. TVG will be on-site and broadcasting live the entire afternoon. The Hambletonian Final is scheduled for race 13, with post time at 5:11 P.M. Following the 14th race will be the Horseplay Car Giveaway where someone will drive out of The Meadowlands in a brand new car. Guests have many options when it comes to dining. Victory Sports Bar will be open at 10:00 A.M. featuring a buffet at a price of $44.95 per person. The East Apron tent also features a buffet, with a carving station at a price of $44.95 per person. Trotters is members-only for Hambletonian Day and a reservation is required. Lastly, Pink will feature a prix-fixe menu at a price of $49.95 per person. For all things Hambletonian, visit playmeadowlands.com and hambletonian.org. From the Meadowlands Media Relations
East Rutherford, NJ - The 2014 Championship Meet at The Meadowlands will offer over $9 Million in harness racing purses for its stakes races, headlined by the $1.2 Million Hambletonian on Saturday August 2nd. Carrying a $1.2 Million total purse, The Hambletonian is the richest Standardbred race in North America and will be the first jewel of the trotting triple crown in 2014. Hambletonian Day will also include a wide array of other stakes races, with total purses for the day being approximately $3.5 Million, the richest day of racing in the state of New Jersey. The Hambletonian program will also include The Hambletonian Oaks, John Cashman Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, Peter Haughton Memorial, Merrie Annabelle, Lady Liberty and more. "Hambletonian Day is always the greatest day of racing for our sport each year and we are thrilled to be the home of such a historic event," said Director of Racing Operations Darin Zoccali. "It is an event like the Super Bowl for us, where as soon as Hambletonian Day is over, we begin working on the next one." This year's Hambletonian will be the first in the new $100 Million Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment facility. "We are excited to give The Hambletonian a brand new, state of the art facility to call home," said General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "The experience for our customers will be better than ever, with more activities and a wide array of options for our customers to enjoy the day how they want, from fine dining, a gorgeous sports bar, skyboxes, a rooftop terrace and The Backyard which will be an enhanced version of the old paddock park. In addition, the day is sure to have a more intimate connection to the racing than ever before, as we have been feeling that energy all season long here at The Meadowlands." Post time for The Hambletonian Day program is scheduled for 12:00 P.M. The Meadowlands signature event, The Meadowlands Pace will take place on Saturday July 12th. Thanks to proactive changes made to the payment structure of the race, The Meadowlands Pace is showing promising growth through the sustaining payments and will carry a purse of an estimated $750,000 for the 2014 edition. "We worked very hard on improving The Meadowlands Pace," said Zoccali. "We implemented an altered payment structure which will continue to evolve going forward and we are already seeing the results through the sustaining payments. This year's Meadowlands Pace is trending toward a substantial increase in the purse for the Final over 2013." The Meadowlands Pace program will also offer a huge card of racing, including such races as The Mistletoe Shalee, Stanley Dancer Memorial, Del Miller Memorial, William Haughton Memorial, The Golden Girls, The New Jersey Sire Stakes Championships for two year olds and more, producing a near $3 Million night of stakes action. Meadowlands Pace Night will feature a special start time of 6:30 P.M. New to the 2014 Stakes Calendar is The $400,000 Hambletonian Maturity for four year old trotters, to be contested at 1 1/8th Miles on Saturday July 5th which is Meadowlands Pace Elimination night. A maximum of 16 horses will be on the gate for the $400,000 event. "This is a unique event," added Zoccali. "It would be great to see upwards of 12 or 13 horses entered as the race would have a European-style feel to it and I think is something we will all enjoy. It also provides a major race for the four year old trotters to target as their stakes season kicks off." Other major events are the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial, to take place on Saturday May 17th and will coincide with Roosevelt Raceway Legacy Night. The New Jersey Sire Stakes Championships for three year olds will be on Saturday May 31st and The Meadowlands Maturity Pace on Friday June 13th, which is likely to mark the 2014 debut of Captaintreacherous, the 2013 Pacer of the Year. While not a part of the summer Championship Meet, The Breeders Crown makes its return to The Meadowlands in the fall, with the Finals taking place over two championship nights of racing, Friday November 21st and Saturday November 22nd. The standardbred stakes season will end the following Saturday night, November 29th, with the second annual $1 Million TVG Free For All Championships. The 2014 Meadowlands stakes program will offer an estimated $16 Million in purses and the full stakes schedule can be found at http://meadowlandsracetrack.com/uploadedfiles/2014_Meadowlands_Stakes_Schedule.pdf. by Rachel Ryan, for the Meadowlands
Sixteen down, one to go. Bee A Magician will try to complete a perfect season Saturday night when she faces nine foes in the $253,000 Moni Maker Stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters at Meadowlands Racetrack. Ranked No. 1 in the sport's current Top 10 poll, Bee A Magician is 16-for-16 this year, with $1.42 million in earnings. She will start the Moni Maker from post eight for trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman and driver Brian Sears. "I am feeling a bit of pressure, yeah," Norman said. "I wasn't feeling any until now, because you're so close. We're a few days away from it being over. "But it's exciting. The other thing is you could be not racing. Two weeks from now when she's not racing and she's out in the paddock I'm going to miss her, that's for sure." Bee A Magician will try to join Muscle Hill, Syrinx Hanover and A Worthy Lad as the only trotters to go undefeated at age 3 and earn year-end honors dating back to 1975. Muscle Hill, a colt, won all 12 of his races in 2009 and was named Horse of the Year in both the U.S. and Canada. Syrinx Hanover, a filly, went 12-for-12 in 2001 and was named Trotter of the Year in the U.S. (losing Horse of the Year to filly pacer Bunny Lake). A Worthy Lad, a colt, was perfect in 13 starts in 1990 and received the O'Brien Award as Canada's best 3-year-old male trotter. "It's just a dream," said Mel Hartman, who owns Bee A Magician with David McDuffee and Herb Liverman. "At times she's done it so easy it's scary. I've had some great horses, but if you have a horse that's being considered for Horse of the Year they have to be super special. I would say she's super special. It's been a hell of a ride." Bee A Magician's wins this year include the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, in a stakes-record 1:51.4, and the $500,000 Breeders Crown, in a stakes-record 1:52.4. She also captured the Elegantimage Stakes, the Delvin Miller Memorial in a world-record 1:51, and the Ontario Sire Stakes championship. For her career, Bee A Magician has won 26 of 29 races and earned $2.18 million. Her earnings are the record for any filly, trotter or pacer, at ages 2 and 3 combined. She is coming off a victory in the American-National Stakes on Nov. 9 at Balmoral Park in Chicago. "She's had three weeks since her last race, so she's not right on top of her game, I wouldn't say," Norman said. "But we trained today (Tuesday) so she's going to be very close." There is no precipitation in the forecast for Saturday, but it will be cold. The high temperature is projected at 38 degrees and the low at 32. "I'm nervous racing this late in the year," Hartman said. "My experience is that fillies and mares are not too crazy about racing in the cold. It seems harder on them than the (male) horses. I just hope we haven't made a mistake." The Moni Maker field includes Sheena's Shadow, Handover Belle, Ma Chere Hall, Andie Sophia, Little Bitty Lies, Southwind Cocoa and Time To Kill lining up inside Bee A Magician, with Mistery Woman and Deja Vu Too to her outside on the starting gate. "I didn't expect anything like this," Norman said about Bee A Magician's campaign. "You don't expect that from any horse. It is a long year; the horse has been in work since February and we're almost to December. It's 10 months of hard work and a lot of starts. "It's just tough for them to keep going and be good the whole time. It's amazing that she has been, really. That's why it's such a big achievement, I guess. "She's a great horse. I hope she finishes it off." by Ken Weingartner for Harness Racing Communications
Drop The Ball and driver Corey Callahan showed true grit in being parked out the entire mile and still coming on at the finish to win the $217,000 Lady Liberty Pace for older mares in 1:49. Two-time Older Mare of the Year, Anndrovette, started off the fourth race for driver Tim Tetrick, going right to the lead with Krispy Apple (Brian Sears) on their back to the opening quarter mile in :26.1. Meanwhile Callahan and Drop the Ball were in fourth on the outside and slowly grinding their way towards the leaders. At the half in :53.3, Anndrovette was still firmly in command but Drop The Ball had all but collared her and would not give up. The same took place at the three-quarters in 1:21, but Drop The Ball was still there on the outside and actually had the lead by a nose. And as they came down the stretch, racing neck and neck, head and head to the wire, Callahan was able to urge Drop The Ball on at the finish to win by three-quarters of a length as Anndrovette tired at the very end. Rocklamation (Yannick Gingras) was third. Trained by Ross Croghan and owned by the Let It Ride Stable, Dana Parham and the Robert Cooper Stables of Florida, it was the third win this year for Drop The Ball, a daughter of Western Terror, who paid $10.80 to win. “It really was some effort. She deserved the win today,” said Callahan, “Anndrovette is such a tough competitor and she’s kind of been getting the upper hand on Drop the Ball so it’s nice for her to go ahead and get a win today and get her picture taken.” Steve Wolf
Tim Tetrick will try to do what no driver has done in 25 years – win the Hambletonian in consecutive years. John Campbell, who has won a record six Hambletonians, was the last driver to accomplish the feat. He won in 1987 with Mack Lobell and in 1988 with Armbro Goal. Billy Haughton, who won with Steve Lobell in 1976 and Green Speed in 1977, is the only other driver to pull off wins in back-to-back Hambletonians in the last 70 years. Two other drivers won in consecutive years, Henry Thomas in 1937-38 and Ben White in 1942-43. Ron Pierce is trying to become the sixth driver with at least four Hambletonian wins. Pierce, who drives Spider Blue Chip in the Hambo, would join Campbell, White, Haughton, Stanley Dancer and Mike Lachance on the list. He also would give trainer Chuck Sylvester his fifth trophy, which would tie the record for most wins among trainers. The last trainer to win the Hambletonian in back-to-back years was Per Eriksson in 1991 with Giant Victory and 1992 with Alf Palema. Linda Toscano, who won last year’s Hambo with Market Share, is without a starter in this year’s event. She will send Market Share into the John Cashman Jr. Memorial (see note below). This year’s Hambletonian features five trainers who have hoisted the trophy previously. They are Sylvester, Jimmy Takter, Noel Daley, Greg Peck and Ray Schnittker. The Hambletonian returns to the format it used from 1991 through 1996 with the eliminations and final on the same day and a horse only needing to win the final to be declared the champion. Elim winners, though, came back to win the final in five of those six years. The only exception was Alf Palema in 1992; he was second in his elimination. Market Share, last year’s Hambletonian winner, is back on Hambo Day in the $318,350 John Cashman Jr. Memorial (formerly Nat Ray Invitational) for older trotters. The 4-year-old is undefeated in three races this season and is coming off a victory in the Maple Leaf Trot. Market Share, who is the 6-5 morning line favorite, will try to become the first Hambletonian champ to win this event since Mack Lobell in 1988. Of course, as DRF Harness’ Derick Giwner pointed out earlier this week, only one other Hambo winner has competed in the race since then: gelding Vivid Photo. This year’s Cashman has six former Hambletonian finalists in the field, with Guccio, Uncle Peter, Hot Shot Blue Chip, Luckycharm Hanover and Wishing Stone joining Market Share. Only two horses in 32 years have won the Maple Leaf Trot and Nat Ray in the same year: San Pail (2011) and Rotation (2003). Five horses share the all-time record of 1:50.1 for trotting on a mile track. Two of those horses accomplished the feat in the Nat Ray: Chapter Seven in 2012 and Lucky Jim in 2009. While on the subject of fast times, Warrawee Needy, who earlier this year equaled the time for the fastest race mile in history (1:46.4) is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the $213,650 U.S. Pacing Championship for older male pacers. Sweet Lou, who in 2011 became the fastest 2-year-old pacer in history, and Bolt The Duer, the fastest horse ever on a five-eighths-mile track, are 3-1 and 4-1, respectively. Father Patrick and Nuncio, who have traded head victories the last two times out, are the top choices in the $280,500 Peter Haughton Memorial. Father Patrick, from the stable of trainer Jimmy Takter, is 6-5 on the morning line and Nuncio is 8-5. Jim Oscarsson, who trained last year’s Peter Haughton winner Aperfectyankee, trains Nuncio. Aperfectyankee will appear later on the card in the Hambletonian, along with Takter’s Corky, Dontyouforgetit and High Bridge. Corky was second in last year’s Peter Haughton. Takter sends four 2-year-old filly trotters into the $321,700 Merrie Annabelle final. Lifetime Pursuit, who is 3-for-3 this season for the Takter Stable, is the 8-5 morning line favorite. Another Takter trainee, Shake It Cerry, is 2-for-2 and a half-sister to Hambletonian starter Dontyouforgetit. She is the 5-2 second choice. Anndrovette, the two-time defending Dan Patch Award winner for best older female pacer, is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the $217,100 Lady Liberty. Anndrovette, coming off a half-length victory over Drop The Ball in the Roses Are Red Stakes, set the pace in last year’s Lady Liberty before finishing third as Put On A Show set the record for fastest time ever for a female pacer (1:47.3). Drop The Ball is second choice at 5-2. The $55,000 Ima Lula Series final for older female trotters features five of last year’s Hambletonian Oaks competitors: winner Personal Style, runner-up Win Missy B, Real Babe, Maven and Check Me Out. Maven, who has won five of six races this season, is the 9-5 morning line favorite from post nine. Two-time divisional champ Check Me Out, who was the favorite in last year’s Oaks but went off stride on the final turn and was subsequently disqualified from third to eighth, is 5-2. Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications
The North American breed has had a huge influence on harness racing in New Zealand in recent decades - but going by last Saturday's big Hambletonian Day at the Meadowlands the Kiwis are also playing a major role in the sport in the United States.
Harness racing driver Jody Jamieson found room late in the stretch with Put On A Show and burst along the pylons for a world-record 1:47.3 victory in the $253,700 Lady Liberty for older female pacers Saturday at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
Lower fees help boost nominations to Meadowlands Racetrack's summer stakes events for harness racing 2-year-old horses by over 35 percent in 2012.
Those lucky enough to have won harness racing's Meadowlands Pace or the Hambletonian, among the most prestigious Standardbred races in the world, carry with them a cherished memory for a lifetime.
This Week: The Grand Circuit is off this week. Harness racing will resume the week of August 14 at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis, and Harrah's Chester in Pennsylvania.
San Pail Conquers Nat Ray Invitational; Trained and co-owned by Rod Hughes of Dunsford and driven by Randy Waples of Milton, San Pail set a new lifetime mark in the harness racing $300,000 Nat Ray Invitational Saturday afternoon at The Meadowlands.
Champion Canadian mare Dreamfair Eternal racked up her 50th career win when claiming the $245,000 Lady Liberty Free-For-All for harness racing pacing mares at the Meadowlands today (Saturday August 6). The 2010 Canadian Horse Of the Year and O'Brien winner stopped the clock in 1:49.2.