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Hambletonian, Oaks Elims Set

Published: July 24, 2012 3:04 pm ET

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The top three finishers in each, plus the richest fourth-place finisher, will advance to the $1.5 million Hambletonian final on Saturday, August 4.

Jimmy Takter’s stable will be well-represented in the elims by Stanley Dancer Memorial winners Uncle Peter and Little Brown Fox and Dancer runner-up Guccio. Uncle Peter, the 2011 Breeders Crown champion, wired the field in his Dancer division in 1:53.1 on July 14. He drew post four in the first of the $70,000 Hambletonian eliminations, race five. Little Brown Fox also crushed his Dancer competition on the front end with a sparkling 1:51.2 effort, besting his stablemate, Guccio, by three and a half lengths. Little Brown Fox will start from post nine in the third elimination, race eight, while Guccio has post three in the second elim, race six.

Illinois invader Riccolo proved his readiness for the Hambletonian elims last week as he kept his perfect nine-race record this season in tact with a 1:54.3 win in an open trot at the Meadowlands. Walter Paisley developed the colt, while driver-trainer Trond Smedshammer took over the reins after his recent purchase by Norwegian connections. Riccolo will start from post seven in the second elim.

Also vying for a spot in the $1.5 million final are Archangel, winner of seven straight races, including the Yonkers Trot in a 1:54.1 world record, and 2011 divisional champion Possess The Will, whose sophomore campaign was delayed due to illness.

Here are the fields for the eliminations:

1st Elimination - Race 5
HN - Horse - Driver - Trainer

1 - Banker Volo - David Miller - Erv Miller
2 - Possess The Will - Tim Tetrick - Jim Campbell
3 - Money On My Mind - Andy Miller - Julie Miller
4 - Uncle Peter - Ron Pierce - Jimmy Takter
5 - Magic Tonight - Ron Pierce - Noel Daley
6 - Lindys Jersey Boy - Brian Sears - Frank Antonacci
7 - From Above - Corey Callahan - Greg Peck
8 - Prestidigitator - Sylvain Filion - R. Dustin Jones

2nd Elimination - Race 6
HN - Horse - Driver - Trainer

1 - Lightning Storm - John Campbell - Jonas Czernyson
2 - Stormin Normand - Dave Palone - Jim Campbell
3 - Guccio - Jimmy Takter - Jimmy Takter
4 - Beer Summit - George Brennan - Noel Daley
5 - My MVP - Mike Lachance - Tony Alagna
6 - Knows Nothing - Jody Jamieson - Jeffrey Gillis
7 - Riccolo - Trond Smedshammer - Trond Smedshammer
8 - One In A Million - Brian Sears - Chuck Sylvester

3rd Elimination - Race 8
HN - Horse - Driver - Trainer

1 - Big Chocolate - Homer Hochstetler - Homer Hochstetler
2 - Top Billing - Andy Miller - Julie Miller
3 - Delano - Ray Schnittker - Ray Schnittker
4 - Gym Tan Laundry - George Brennan - Noel Daley
5 - Solvato - Trond Smedshammer - Trond Smedshammer
6 - Market Share - Tim Tetrick - Linda Toscano
7 - Archangel - Jim Morrill, Jr. - Peter Arrigenna
8 - Appomattox - Tim Tetrick - Frank Antonacci
9 - Little Brown Fox - Yannick Gingras - Jimmy Takter

The filly Check Me Out, who was under strong consideration by her trainer, Ray Schnittker, to race against the colts in the Hambletonian, will instead compete in the companion $714,050 Oaks. The Oaks was drawn early Tuesday but was redrawn this afternoon to separate an owner entry that should have occurred under the conditions Hambletonian No. 87.

The top five finishers in each $35,000 elimination will advance to the Oaks final on August 4.

Hambletonian Oaks Eliminations - post position-trainer-named driver
First five finishers from each elim advance to the final.

1st Elimination - Race 3
HN - Horse - Trainer - Driver

1. Sassy Syrinx – D.M. Smith-George Brennan
2. Holier Than Thou - Jonas Czernyson- Yannick Gingras
3. Check Me Out – Ray Schnittker – Tim Tetrick
4. Superstar Hanover- Jimmy Takter-Jimmy Takter
5. Uncommon Night – Dewayne Minor-George Brennan
6. Valdonna - Jimmy Takter-Ron Pierce
7. For A Dancer – Joe Holloway-Jeff Gregory

2nd Elimination - Race 4
HN - Horse - Trainer - Driver

1. Personal Style – Richard Norman-David Miller
2. Dorsay – Jonas Czernyson-Marcus Johansson
3. Maven – Jonas Czernyson- Yannick Gingras
4. Win Missy B – Charlie Norris-Brian Sears
5. Cant Have My Moni – Frank Antonacci, Jr – Tim Tetrick
6. Dream On Hanover – Staffan Lind- George Brennan
7. Real Babe - Ray Schnittker - Ray Schnittker

The final will go postward on August 4.

Meadowlands' Ken Warkentin has been following the contenders leading up to trotting's richest prize in his Road to the Hambletonian 2012.

The long and winding road to the $1.5 million Hambletonian, Saturday, August 4, is coming down to the wire with eliminations this Saturday, July 28. We have followed the top contenders and rated their performances on the stakes trail as harness racing’s greatest day approaches at the Meadowlands. The Winterbook Top 10 grew to a list of about 30 prospects at one point. After sitting at number one throughout the entire process, trainer Ray Schnittker decided the filly Check Me Out will now race in the Oaks. So, for the first time we have a new leader in Uncle Peter, among those in the Top 10 who have continued to win and impress. This year’s Hambletonian looks wide open, and a key theme is strength in numbers with multi - horse contingents from Jimmy Takter, Noel Daley, Jim Campbell, Julie Miller and Trond Smedshammer. After sweeping both Stanley Dancer Memorial divisions, Takter trainees rank 1 - 2 and the Hall of Famer has three in the Top 10.

1 - Uncle Peter – Goes into the eliminations fresh off a perfect prep, a well controlled 1:53.1 score in a Stanley Dancer Memorial division with Ron Pierce as the 2-5 favourite. Pierce said it was “a piece of cake” for the son of Cantab Hall. This followed a career best of 1:52.3 in the PA All-Stars at Pocono Downs. Last year’s Breeders Crown upsetter heads a powerful Jimmy Takter battalion, which includes Little Brown Fox, Guccio and Weingartner.

2 - Little Brown Fox – The Muscles Yankee colt pulled off a Stanley Dancer Memorial division shocker ($49.60) in a sharp 1:51.2 with Yannick Gingras. Gingras said, “He was very impressive.” The Muscles Yankee colt beat his Jimmy Takter stablemate Guccio. He also won the NJSS Final in 1:53.3.

3 - Stormin Normand – Enters the eliminations off a win in a division of PASS at Pocono by a nose in 1:52.4. The son of Broadway Hall finished a solid second in the Yonkers Trot after a second (timed in 1:51) to Googoo Gaagaa in the world record (1:50.4) Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial. He also won his Beal elimination in 1:51.4. The stablemate to Dan Patch Award winner Possess the Will (trainer Jim Campbell) won the PASS Championship at two, and comes off Lasix.

4 - Magic Tonight – Comes in on a high trend, finishing second (timed in 1:53.4), beaten a half length by My MVP, in PASS at Pocono Downs on July 14 after missing three weeks. Bounced back after fading to seventh from the rail in the Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial. He shattered The Meadows track record with a 1:52.4 score in PASS and gives Noel Daley (Broad Bahn) a serious shot at a Hambletonion repeat.

5 - Possess The Will – The 2011 Dan Patch Award winner comes off his second tightener, made a first over bid and finished third in the fastest (1:51.2) Dancer division. The Donato Hanover colt was second in a Reynolds division in his 2012 debut. Sickness had delayed his comeback and trainer Jim Campbell looks for him to be fresh and sharp going into the Hambletonian. He was the top earner among last year’s freshmen trotters. Both Jim Campbell trained colts would be coming off Lasix, which is not allowed in the Hambletonian.

6 - Beer Summit – Missed 28 days due to sickness, then set most of the pace and tired to fourth in PASS at Pocono Downs on July 14. The stablemate to Magic Tonight posted a perfect trip upset ($19.20) in the Goodtimes Final with Ron Pierce in the bike for trainer Noel Daley, equaling the Mohawk track record of 1:52.2. Daley noted the son of Cantab Hall is best as a stalking threat.

7 - Riccolo – The Illinois bred gelding by Northern Kid made it a perfect nine-for-nine in 2012 with an easy wire-to-wire Big M debut in 1:54.3. He was recently sold to Norwegian interests and was making his first start for Trond Smedshammer. He won his first eight starts this season at Balmoral Park, and his latest there was a lifetime best of 1:54.2. Swedish driving ace Bjorn Goop has been asked to drive him if he makes the Hambletonian.

8 - Archangel – Made it seven in a row with a Tompkins Memorial stakes record of 1:54.3 at Tioga Downs on July 21. He went wire-to-wire in the Yonkers Trot in 1:54.1 when the heavy favourite Googoo Gaagaa broke stride twice. This Credit Winner colt broke his own Vernon Downs track record winning the Empire Breeders Classic in 1:53.1 for trainer Peter Arrigenna. He will be making his mile track debut.

9 - Guccio – This Yankee Glide colt is going in the right direction to complete the Top 10 trio for Jimmy Takter. He rallied for second (timed in 1:52) behind stablemate Little Brown Fox in the fastest (1:51.2) Dancer division despite having issues getting a hold of the track. He also finished second to Little Brown Fox in the NJSS Final.

10 - Market Share – Stormed home in :27.3 in a Three Year Old Open on July 21 after finishing third in the Yonkers Trot. The son of Revenue S was a fast-closing fifth as the beaten favourite in the Goodtimes Final, and won his elimination in 1:53.2. The stablemate to world champion four-year-old Chapter Seven was also the beaten favourite (third) in the NJSS Final, and won a NJSS division by nine lengths in 1:53.1 for trainer Linda Toscano.

Other Contenders

Banker Volo – The Erv Miller (Manofmanymissions) trainee was a locked-in second behind Uncle Peter in his Dancer division with Jim Morrill, Jr., who’s also been driving Archangel. Unraced at two, the son of Yankee Glide came bursting on the scene winning his first four starts, including an impressive 1:52.3 blowout at Pocono Downs.

Solvato – Stablemate to Trond Smedshammer newcomer Riccolo finished a hard-charging third, beaten a neck in PASS at Pocono Downs after a third to Uncle Peter in the PA All - Stars. Owns a win in a PASS division in 1:53.2 at Harrah’s Philadelphia, who said he’s fast enough, still fresh and a trip horse just like Windsong’s Legacy.

My MVP – Goes into the eliminations off a win his division of PASS at Pocono Downs in a career best 1:53.4 on July 14 with Mike Lachance after a second to Uncle Peter in the PA All-Stars. The son of Cantab Hall, trained by Tony Alagna, also won a division of PASS at The Meadows in 1:55.1 over Beer Summit & Solvato.

Delano – Heads into the eliminations off his third straight NYSS win and fourth this season, scoring a half-length decision in 1:55 at Vernon Downs for Ray Schnittker. The son of Credit Winner went wire-to-wire in a NYSS division at Yonkers in 1:56.4 on July 3. He also won a NYSS division in a Buffalo Raceway track record of 1:56.3 on June 17. The son of Credit Winner started 2012 going wire-to-wire in NYSS in 1:54.4 at Tioga Downs.

Knows Nothing – Rallied from well off the pace to win the Canadian Breeders Championship in 1:54.3 on July 21 at Mohawk despite missing 35 days. Unraced at two, he finished a strong fourth in the Goodtimes Final. He won his first starts, including a Goodtimes elimination in 1:53.4 for Jody Jamieson & Jeff Gillis. Unraced at two, his sire Kadabra enters the Canadian Hall of Fame in August. Jamieson and Gillis finished ninth in the 2009 Hambletonian with Federal Flex.

Lightning Storm – Comes into the eliminations on a high note off a second (1:52.4) by a nose to Stormin Normand in PASS at Pocono Downs. The son of Donato Hanover was third to Money On My Mind in the Reynolds Stakes at the Big M, and kicked off 2012 with back-to-back wins of 1:53.3 and 1:53.4. The Peter Haughton elimination winner at two is trained by Jonas Czernyson, who has sent out six Hambletonian finalists in the last four editions.

Appomattox – Grinded first over and finished a solid third behind Uncle Peter in a Dancer division with Tim Tetrick driving. Finished second to Coraggioso in the Historic at Tioga Downs on June 17. He rallied from post nine to win his 2012 debut in 1:56.1 on June 1 at the Big M for trainer Frank Antonacci, who was second in the 2008 Hambletonian with Crazed

Weingartner – Last year’s Peter Haughton Memorial upsetter returned from a P-1 fracture. The son of Donato Hanover finished third in a Three Year Old Open on July 21 after winning a qualifier on July 12 in 1:55 for Jimmy Takter, who said he’s coming back better than expected.

Money On My Mind – Perhaps the best hope for Andy and Julie Miller. Beaten seven lengths, finished fourth (timed in 1:52.4) in the fastest Dancer division following a well rated wire-to-wire win in the Reynolds Stakes in 1:53.3. The son of Cantab Hall was a distant second in Magic Tonight’s 1:52.4 track record in PASS at The Meadows back on May 30.

Top Billing – Comes into the eliminations off a top effort, a gutsy first over win by a nose in PASS at Pocono Downs in 1:53.4 with Tyler Buter driving. The son of Andover Hall was the Spring Survivor winner at the Big M for Andy & Julie Miller.

One In A Million – Rebounded from a break in the second Dancer division by going wire - to - wire in a standout qualifier on July 21 [:26., :54.2, 1:23.1, 1:53] with Brian Sears. Son of Donato Hanover dominated an overnight in a career best of 1:53.3 on July 6. Won his 2012 debut with a mighty sweep from post 10 in 1:55.2 on June 15 for Chuck Sylvester, who has four Hambletonians.

Coraggioso – Cruised in a Tompkins Memorial division at Tioga Downs in 1:55.3 on July 21 and has now banked over $200,000 this season. Finished second as the beaten favourite in NYSS at Vernon Downs on July 11. Went all the way from post seven in a NYSS division at Yonkers on July 3 in 1:56. Cruised to a lifetime best of 1:54.3 in the Historic at Tioga. The son of Conway Hall, co-owned by legendary announcer Tom Durkin, finished second in the Empire Breeders Classic for trainer/driver Phil Fluet, and won a NYSS division at Tioga in 1:55.4.

Prestidigitator – This son of Kadabra broke and finished ninth in the Canadian Breeders Championship on July 21 at Mohawk after winning his elimination in 1:54.3. Romped in an OSS Gold Final in 1:54 at Georgian Downs on July 7 with Sylvain Fillion driving after grinding out an elimination in 1:55.2. Capped his freshman season winning the OSS Super Final for trainer Dustin Jones.

Vic Smith – Disappointed again, making breaks and finished seventh in the first Dancer division after an inspiring qualifier (timed in 1:54.3) behind Invitational trotter Hot Shot Blue Chip. The freshman NJSS champion broke and finished ninth in the NJSS Final on June 2. The son of Yankee Glide won his 2012 NJSS debut in 1:55.3, then lost by a nose to Little Brown Fox in 1:54.1 for Andy and Julie Miller.

From Above – Faded to sixth behind Riccolo in a Three Year Old Open on July 21 after finishing fourth behind Uncle Peter in a Dancer division. The Donato Hanover colt has offered some encouraging qualifiers, but hasn’t quite measured up to the top colts yet. Trainer Greg Peck (Muscle Hill) was expecting big things from this son of Donato Hanover, who won back-to-back Grand Circuit stakes at The Red Mile at two.

Flyhawk Jester – Won a qualifier at Vernon Downs on July 20 in 1:58.2 after being scratched sick out of a NYSS division there. Recently switched to trainer Tracy Brainard and finished a well beaten fourth in a NYSS division at Yonkers on July 3. Fifth in the Empire Breeders Classic after setting the pace and second in his elimination as the beaten favourite. The son of RC Royalty also posted a second to Archangel in NYSS at Tioga Downs.

Gym Tan Laundry – Remains winless in eight starts this season. Finished a nonthreatening fourth behind Riccolo in a Three-Year-Old Open on July 21 after a seventh to Little Brown Fox in a Dancer division. Those two starts came after 28 days off. The son of Yankee Glide set a strong pace from post nine and finished a surprising solid third in the Goodtimes Final at 99-1, beaten only half a length for trainer Noel Daley.

Big Chocolate – Broke for the third time in his last four starts, faltering in a Dancer division right after winning an overnight at Vernon Downs on July 4 in 1:55.2 for Homer Hochstetler. The son of Chocolatier won a division of NJSS in 1:54.3.

American Gangster – Finished fourth in an overnight at Pocono Downs on July 20 after fading to fifth in the stallion series there. The son of Andover Hall made breaks in his first two starts of the year. As a freshman, he set a Mohawk track record of 1:54.4 in his William Wellwood elimination for trainer Chris Oakes.


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