Ariana G: Hambletonian Or Oaks?

Published: July 19, 2017 08:34 am EDT

Marvin Katz understands the buzz associated with a filly taking on the boys in the Hambletonian, but following Ariana G’s win in last weekend’s Delvin Miller Memorial at the Meadowlands, the longtime owner and breeder was content to enjoy his horse’s present rather than speculate about her future.

Ariana G won her division of the Miller in 1:51.4 Saturday to give her 13 victories in 16 career races. She is the fastest three-year-old female trotter this season, with a mark of 1:51.1, and second-fastest three-year-old trotter overall, behind only colt Walner -- the Hambletonian favourite -- at 1:50.2.

The three-year-old trotting colt with the next best win time is Long Tom, at 1:52.1.

“It’s not hyperbole; I believe that she can race with them. I really believe that,” Katz said. “Whether we will or not, I don’t know. We’ll talk about it.

“We’ll just enjoy the (Miller) victory right now.”

A total of 161 fillies have entered the Hambletonian in its 91-year history, with 13 winning the sport’s most prestigious event for three-year-old trotters. Since the creation of the Hambletonian Oaks, which was first raced in 1971 and is restricted to fillies, 21 females have entered the Hambletonian.

The most recent filly to win the Hambletonian was Continentalvictory in 1996. The two most recent fillies to enter the race, Pampered Princess in 2007 and Mission Brief in 2015, both won eliminations. Pampered Princess was seventh-placed-sixth in her final, won by Donato Hanover, and Mission Brief finished second to Pinkman in her final.

“It’s good for the sport and it makes a good story, but we have to do what’s best for the horse,” said Katz, who shares ownership of Ariana G with Al Libfeld and will add the filly to their award-winning broodmare band at the completion of her career. “We don’t want to put her in a position where we compromise her in any way. She doesn’t deserve that.”

Jimmy Takter, who trains Ariana G, is no stranger to the girl-vs.-boys storyline. He trained Pampered Princess as well as Mission Brief’s nemesis Pinkman.

Pampered Princess, like Ariana G, won Dan Patch and O’Brien awards at age two as her division’s best horse. She headed to the Hambletonian eliminations with 14 wins in 17 career races and had finished off the board only once.

Ariana G, who also has been worse than third only once, has won four of five races this year. She beat male rivals in her elimination for the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, but drew post eight for the final on July 1 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and finished third behind Hambletonian hopefuls Devious Man and Long Tom.

The New Jersey Sire Stakes champion rebounded with her victory in her Miller division.

“She was terrific,” Katz said. “She was good and strong all the way through the wire, an excellent performance. It was a super mile.

“She’s had a fabulous year so far. She went (1:51.1) in the New Jersey final and she was great in the elimination for the Beal. Unfortunately she drew a bad post in the final. It was just too much to ask of her.”

Ariana G is a daughter of 2009 Hambletonian winner Muscle Hill out of the mare Cantab It All and her full sister, All The Time, won last year’s Hambletonian Oaks. Ariana G is one of only two fillies in history to win with sub-1:52 miles at both ages two and three. The other is Mission Brief.

“This is clearly a great champion and an ambassador for the sport in some respects,” Katz said about Ariana G, adding about the Hambletonian, “We have to consider all these factors and we’ll discuss it among ourselves, with Jimmy of course, and take his guidance and go from there.”

This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit

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