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Hambletonian, Oaks Elims Complete

Published: July 31, 2021 8:55 pm ET

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Ake Svanstedt trainees won both of the $50,000 Hambletonian Stakes eliminations for trotting three-year-olds at The Meadowlands on Saturday (July 31), with Delayed Hanover capturing the first division and Captain Corey taking the second.

Svanstedt saw three of his four elimination starters advance to the $1 million Hambletonian final on Aug. 7 at the "Big M", as Ambassador Hanover joined his winning duo.

The top-five finishers from each elimination moved on to the final.

Nancy Takter also had a trio of finalists. Really Fast was second to Captain Corey while Locatelli and Spy Booth were fifth-place finishers in their respective elims.

Completing the group of 10 horses advancing to the final were Cuatro De Julio, who was runner-up to Delayed Hanover, plus Sonofamistery, Venerate, and Take All Comers.

Elimination winners will draw for post positions one through five. The remaining finalists will go in an open draw after the elimination winners receive their post.

Post positions for the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks finals will be drawn at 1 p.m. Tuesday (Aug. 3) on Meadowlands Facebook live. Both finals will air live from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Hambletonian Day (Aug. 7) on CBS Sports Network. First-race post time on Hambletonian Day is noon.

In the first elimination, Delayed Hanover won by two lengths over Cuatro De Julio in 1:51.1. Ambassador Hanover, Sonofamistery, and Spy Booth completed the top-five finishers advancing to the Hambletonian final.

Dancinginthedark M, the 4-5 favourite, went off stride on the final turn. Zenith Stride, last year’s Peter Haughton Memorial winner, also made a break. On A Streak, the 2020 O’Brien Award winner from Canada, was scratched sick.

Ambassador Hanover led to the first quarter in :27.2 before Cuatro De Julio was put in motion and grabbed the lead in a :55.1 half. Cuatro De Julio stayed on top through three-quarters, reached in 1:22.4, but was unable to hold off Delayed Hanover in the stretch.

Dexter Dunn drove Delayed Hanover, who was third for most of the mile, for trainer Ake Svanstedt. Ambassador Hanover also is trained by Svanstedt, who handled the driving behind that colt.

“The pace was strong enough; I was happy where I was, we had a good spot there,” Dunn said. “[Dancinginthedark M] was outside of us on the last turn and made a break, so we had clear air. We followed [Ambassador Hanover] out in the straight and it felt like he was full of trot. When I moved him over, he certainly was. He showed a lot of speed.”

Delayed Hanover has won three of five races this year and four of 12 overall, earning nearly $260,000. He is owned by Mellby Gard Inc. and Ake Svanstedt Inc. He was bred by Hanover Shoe Farms.

Sent at 6-1, Delayed Hanover paid $14.80 to win.

In the second elimination, Svanstedt-driven Captain Corey got the lead from stablemate Johan Palema in a :27.3 opening quarter and never looked back. He set fractions of :55.3 and 1:23.4 on his way to victory in 1:51.2. Really Fast, the 7-5 favourite, was second followed by Venerate, Take All Comers and Locatelli.

“I didn’t pull up and everybody knows I have a good horse,” Svanstedt said about setting the tone with Captain Corey. “He raced [1]:50.3 his last start, so he’s a good horse. He was the same today. I hope he can be even better with week-to-week races.”

Captain Corey is owned by S R F Stable, Knutsson Trotting Inc., Midnight Sun Partners Inc., and Ake Svanstedt Inc. The son of Googoo Gaagaa-Luv U All was bred by Carter Duer. He has won two of four races this year and seven of 11 lifetime, with career earnings of more than $400,000.

Sent at 6-1, Captain Corey paid $15.40 to win.

The 2020 Breeders Crown champion Lady Chaos had started the year slowly, winning just once in seven tries. The Cantab Hall-sired filly found her “A” game for driver Dave Miller, going wire-to-wire in a 1:52.4 clocking to capture the first of two $35,000 eliminations for the Hambletonian Oaks for three-year-old fillies on the trot.

Miller had Lady Chaos on her toes and drove to the lead alertly at the outset, seating You Ato Dream in the pocket prior to the :27.4 opening quarter. From there, Lady Chaos was able to rate the second quarter kindly in just :29.1 as 2-5 favourite Bella Bellini and driver Dexter Dunn played possum not wanting to advance prematurely and towed rivals into the fray.

Dunn pushed the "go" button with Bella Bellini, and the Bar Hopping filly hit high gear quickly and looked to be trotting right past Lady Chaos as the two accelerated into the final turn. Miller didn’t allow that to happen, and Lady Chaos drove on to keep her rival at bay through a :27.4 third quarter.

In the homestretch, it was a match race between the 8-1 Lady Chaos and the heavily backed Bella Bellini, with Lady Chaos gamely holding her position to the wire by a head and earning post preference for the $500,000 final on Aug. 7. Bella Bellini settled for second with You Ato Dream third across the wire. Contested Hanover and Scott Zeron weaved through traffic for fourth and Brian Sears had last year’s Jim Doherty winner, Darlene Hanover, airborne in the closing yards to earn the final spot.

Lady Chaos is trained by Linda Toscano for owners Richard Gutnick, Tom Pontone, Joseph Lozito Jr. and Enviro Stables. She returned $18.60 to win.

“She fought tonight,” said Linda Toscano following the race proudly of her filly. “So I was tickled with her. She’s an absolute pleasure to train.”

The second Oaks elimination saw fillies coming from everywhere in the homestretch, but it was Scott Zeron behind 24-1 shot Awesome Trix that found the shortest route, skimming the pylons late to score the upset in a 1:52.4 mile.

There was action from the outset as Dutiful left sharply along with Flawless Country and Iteration. Dutiful put Flawless Country in the pocket early but parked Iteration to the :28 first quarter before releasing her. Big City Pearl left from the outside post 10 and found herself parked for Verlin Yoder, who sent the filly up to challenge through the second quarter. Iteration and Big City Pearl were on even terms through the :56 half with Flawless Country moving up with cover second-over followed by Hot As Hill and 4-5 favourite Donna Soprano in the outer flow.

Brian Sears had Iteration in control at three-quarters in 1:24.1 but horses fanned across the track and sought room between rivals. Iteration was brave fighting off challengers for much of the stretch, but Zeron had been fortunate as the two horses he had been following while fourth on the pylons at the three-quarters fanned out for room that opened up the inside lane for Awesome Trix to utilize. Under Zeron’s urging, Awesome Trix hit high gear late for the one-length victory.

Iteration finished second with Hot As Hill, Flawless Country and Piper Hanover following her across the wire to earn spots in the rich final.

Awesome Trix, a daughter of Trixton that cost $13,000 as a yearling, the least of the 10 in the field, is owned by trainer Chris Beaver along with Aaron Merriman and Robert McNerney. In winning for the third time this year, Awesome Trix returned $50.80 to win.

“She interfered a lot as a two-year-old but had high speed,” said Beaver following the win. “She’s getting stronger this year and learning to go.”

WATCH THE DRAW: The live post-position draw for both the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks will take place Tuesday at 1 p.m. (EDT). For those interested in following along, they can tune in to the Meadowlands Facebook page or the Meadowlands YouTube channel.

A LITTLE MORE: American History was the fastest performer of the night, stopping the clock in 1:47.4 in the third race high-end conditioned pace for trainer Tony Alagna and driver Todd McCarthy. Leading at every call, the six-year-old son of American Ideal cut out fractions of :26, :52.4 and 1:19.4. He returned $7.80 as the second choice in the betting.

Dexter Dunn, Dave Miller and Scott Zeron topped the driver colony with three winners apiece.

"Nifty" Norman trained three to victory lane.

Two lucky winning-ticket holders hit big in the 20-cent Survivor Pick-7, as they walked away with a payout of $7,062.70.

All-source handle totaled $3,260,291.

Racing resumes Friday (Aug. 6), the next-to-last card of the meeting, at 6:20 p.m. (EDT). Hambletonian Day will see the final card of The Championship Meet on Saturday, Aug. 7, and has a post time of 12 p.m. (EDT). Gates open at 10 a.m.

(The Meadowlands)

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