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Fields Set For Hambletonian, Oaks

Published: July 28, 2012 8:42 pm ET

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The fields for the $1.5 million Hambletonian and its companion Oaks event for the fillies were narrowed down to 10 following an action-packed elimination round on Saturday night at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

Fresh off a victory in a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial, Uncle Peter kicked off the eliminations for the Hambletonian.

Lindys Jersey Boy (Brian Sears) established the early lead during a :27.2 opening panel, but driver Ron Pierce rolled Uncle Peter to the top from third with Banker Volo (David Miller) hot on his heels. Banker Volo cleared to command at the :55.3 half-mile mark, but Uncle Peter was flushed back out of the pocket and battled head-to-head with his leading foe past three-quarters in 1:24.4. Down the stretch, Uncle Peter edged clear and held off the closers to win by one and three-quarter lengths in 1:53.3. Money On My Mind (Andy Miller) and Prestidigitator (Sylvain Filion) came on for second and third.

“It was a good race,” said Pierce after the victory. “He wasn’t tired. I don’t know where the bottom is to this colt. He does get a little lazy and thinks the party’s over. He’s got a big tank."

The favoured Cantab Hall-Victory Treasure colt, who is last year's Breeders Crown champion, is trained by Jimmy Takter and owned by John and Jim Fielding of Toronto, Christina Takter of East Windsor, New Jersey, and Falkbolagen Ab of Allentown, New Jersey.

“I think he’s ready,” said Takter. “The weather, we are lucky it didn’t pour rain. He’s racing with a special shoe. It makes him sluggish with a sticky track, but if rains happens Hambo day we have a problem.”

Knows Nothing shot between the leading trotters down the stretch to win the second $70,000 Hambletonian elimination for the O'Brien Award winning team of Jody Jamieson and Jeff Gillis.

Riccolo (Trond Smedshammer) set up shop on the front ahead of Beer Summit (George Brennan) with the parked out One In A Million (Brian Sears) making a costly break and leaving Knows Nothing to inherit third. Riccolo posted fractions of :27 and :56.2 while Stormin Normand (Dave Palone) advanced first up from fifth and applied pressure to the 1:25.3 three-quarters mark. Riccolo and Stormin Normand battled head-to-head down the lane, but 2-1 favourite Knows Nothing split horses and opened up a length and a quarter to win in a career-best 1:53.1. Guccio finished second with early trailer My MVP (Mike Lachance) coming on for third. Stormin Normand will also advance to the final as the richest fourth-place finisher.

“Trond had a very good horse on the lead, but they weren’t going any so I didn’t want to compromise my horse and come first-up," noted Jamieson after the win. "The horse responded pretty much like he did all year. Every week he keeps impressing.

“If you ask Jeff he’d have said Hambletonian in Harrisburg a few years ago. He’s done everything we asked of him, every start. It’s way up there [on my wish list] to win the Hambletonian, even the elimination. Even though I’m talking a lot now, I’m kind of speechless.”

The Kadabra-Savvy Yankee colt is owned by Al Libfeld of Pickering, Ont., Marvin Katz of Toronto, Mac Nichol of Burlington, Ont. and the J Gillis G Stay partnership of Hillsburgh, Ont. Unraced as a two-year-old, he now boasts seven wins in eight sophomore starts.

“He had a bone chip last year,” explained Gillis. “We wanted to put him away and have a good chance at the three-year-old year. We’ve been pretty excited about him. He had an impressive yearling video, trained down as one of the better colts before the setback so we’ve been excited from the get-go.”

Market Share and driver Tim Tetrick converted from the pocket to win the final Hambletonian elimination over the pacesetting Archangel.

There was an early three-horse tussle for the lead in the final elimination with Archangel (Jim Morrill Jr.) eventually settling on top ahead of Market Share while favourite Little Brown Fox (Yannick Gingras) made a costly miscue to their outside. Following fractions of :27 and :55.4, Big Chocolate (Homer Hochstetler) was flushed first up by Top Billing (Andy Miller), who fanned three-wide as they approached the 1:25 three-quarters mark. However, Tetrick pulled Market Share from the pocket and wore down Archangel in the stretch to win in a career-best 1:52.2 by over two lengths. Archangel was followed by third place finisher Gym Tan Laundry (George Brennan).

“We got a third quarter breather and it braved him right up,” said Tetrick after the victory.

The Revenue S-Classical Flirt colt is trained by Linda Toscano for owner Richard Gutnick of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.

“He’s a real honest horse," said Toscano. "He needs a trip. He loves to chase down a target and tonight everything went his way.

“This is the Hambletonian, when you get one that far, it’s awesome.”

O'Brien Award winning filly Check Me Out and Tetrick won the first of two $35,000 elimination races to decide the field for the companion Hambletonian Oaks.

Tetrick took the 1-9 favourite off the leaders in the opening phase of the race, sitting in third throughout the early fractions, set by Holier Than Thou (Yannick Gingras), at the quarter in :28.1 and the half in :57.1. Just past the half, Tetrick tipped Check Me Out off the rail and into the lead by halfway through the final turn and the 1:25.4 three-quarters. They had an unchallenged lead to the finish, winning by two and three-quarter lengths in 1:53.4.

Trainer Ray Schnittker co-owns the millionaire Donato Hanover-Illusion Bi filly Charles Iannazzo of Tappan, New York.

Asked after the race about the decision to race in the Oaks versus taking on the colts, Tetrick said, “I told Ray I stand behind him 100 per cent no matter what. It’s great to be in either one.

"I played it by ear, I didn’t want to get in a big tussle race and she loves passing horses. We got the win so we can pick our post position so that definitely helps. Anywhere in the middle three, four, five.”

Asked about the experience of driving such a dominant filly, with only three career losses in 22 starts, Tetrick said, “And the two losses or the three losses were my fault. She’s special for us fans to get to watch her.”

Qualifying for the Oaks final, in order of finish behind Check Me Out, were Uncommon Night (George Brennan), Superstar Hanover (Jimmy Takter), Holier Than Thou and Sassy Syrinx (Jim Morrill Jr.).

Maven and Yannick Gingras wore down the race leader to win the second of two elimination races for a spot in the $714,050 Oaks.

Brian Sears took Win Missy B right to the lead, hitting the quarter in :27.2 and leading the field to the :56.2 half. As the field headed for the final turn, Gingras hustled Maven off the rail from third and was even with Win Missy B by the 1:24.2 three-quarters. Maven then wore her down in mid-stretch to win by three lengths in 1:52.4, a career mark for the daughter of Glidemaster and M Stewart.

W.J. Donovan of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida owns the filly and Jonas Czernyson trains.

”I was pretty confident I could reel her [Win Missy B] in,” Gingras said. “I didn’t want him to get too much of a jump on me. I am very confident with this filly. She has a huge kick.”

Win Missy B also qualified for the Oaks final by virtue of her second place finish as did those who finished behind her, in this order, Personal Style (David Miller), Dream On Hanover (George Brennan) and Real Babe (Ray Schnittker).

To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Meadowlands Racetrack.

(With files from HRC)

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