When the draw for the 2022 Hambletonian eliminations is announced on Tuesday (July 26), there will be at least one filly entered to battle the boys for one of harness racing's most coveted titles.
After winning the MGM Yonkers Trot earlier this month, star trotting filly Joviality S will be dropped in the box to race in the 2022 Hambletonian elims on July 30. Trainer Marcus Melander confirmed to Trot Insider on Friday that the plan was to race against the male trotters once again and forego the Hambletonian Oaks.
"She is the best mare we have ever trained and we want to try against the stallions," Melander told Trav365. "It can certainly be easier to go out against mares but there are also some good ones, so it is not certain that Joviality would just win the Oaks. There is no penalty kick to be awarded if you go out there. "
Joviality S is a filly by Chapter Seven out of the dual-continent stakes-winning Pasithea Face S, so facing and defeating male trotting rivals is literally in her blood. Pasithea Face S raced in a number of North America's top trotting events in 2017, winning the Steele Memorial on Hambletonian Day at The Meadowlands, finishing third in the Maple Leaf Trot and emerging victorious against open company in the Dayton Trotting Derby.
With 15 wins in 18 career starts, Joviality S has banked $1,254,818 for owner Courant Inc. In her most recent performance, she took a new lifetime mark of 1:50.2 in a division of the Del Miller Memorial at The Meadowlands on July 16.
"Since she still felt so nice last Saturday, we want to try against the stallions. That race is clearly bigger to win, not only for the money but also the prestige," continued Melander, who is painfully aware of just how hard the Hambletonian is to win. A few years ago, he came into the event with the hard-hitting trio of Greenshoe, Gimpanzee and Green Manalishi S. Canadian invader Forbidden Trade rained on that parade.
"We had extremely good chances a few years ago and trained the favourites. It was our race to lose and unfortunately we were second, third, fifth that time. Everything has to be right that day and it's a tough race to win."
In the last five years, the Hambletonian has been captured by trotting fillies twice with Atlanta (2018) and Ramona Hill (2020) emerging victorious. Will a filly be able to beat the boys in the 2022 Hambletonian? Have your say in our current web poll: With both six three-year-old male trotters and six three-year-old filly trotters being timed sub-1:51 on July 16 at The Meadowlands, do you think that a colt or a filly will win this year's Hambletonian?