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Connections Discuss Hambo Win

Published: August 11, 2015 2:41 pm ET

Last Comment: August 12, 2015 9:50 am ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

After 30 years of trying, you could forgive John Fielding for thinking he was never going to win the $1 million Hambletonian. Except, the Standardbred owner from Toronto wasn’t the least bit pessimistic and certainly wasn’t going to give up.

“Trust me, there’s nobody in the world that would rather win the Hambletonian more than me, but the sun’s going to come up tomorrow,” Fielding said last week prior to his gelding Pinkman winning the 90th edition of trotting’s greatest race at the Meadowlands. “If we win it, great. If we don’t, we’ll try next year. If we don’t win next year, we’ll try to get it the year after.”

Saturday afternoon, Fielding hid his emotions behind dark sunglasses as he gripped a corner of the famed revere silver bowl that stands as harness racing’s Stanley Cup.

“I don’t usually get too emotional, but I got emotional because my son David’s here. My family, all my kids, are used to me running out to watch a race. So, they know how important this is to me and they’re all very understanding,” Fielding said.

Then, with a mighty grin, Fielding added, “It feels fantastic. We’ve had a lot (of horses), but we’re finally here. We finally did it,” he said of the victory he shares with his brother, Jimmy, Quebec native and former Torontonian Herb Liverman, Joyce McClelland of Ohio and Christina Takter, wife of Pinkman’s New Jersey-based trainer Jimmy Takter.

The trainer said he’s blessed to have Fielding as one of his owners, but more importantly, as one of his close friends.

“It’s very special,” Takter said. “John has been with me a long time. Everybody knows in this sport that there’s nobody better. I can race 20 horses and 19 race bad and one race well and he will never mention the 19 bad ones. Doing this for John means very much for me.”

Fielding grew up in Toronto riding the streetcar to Greenwood Raceway where his passion for horse racing was first stoked. Today, he is one of the top owners in harness racing, is a two-time owner of the year and sits on the board of the Woodbine Entertainment Group.

Pinkman is only the sixth Canadian-owned horse to win the Hambletonian. The first came in 1953 when the great filly Helicopter won in Goshen, NY for Ontario owners Ted and Elgin Armstrong and then became the foundation trotting mare for the Armstrong Bros. equine empire. It would take 45 more years before a Canadian-owned horse would win the Hambletonian again. In 1998 at the Meadowlands, Muscles Yankee won the Hambletonian for trainer Chuck Sylvester. Included in Muscles Yankee’s ownership group was Herb Liverman and his legendary father, Irving, a 2002 inductee into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Amigo Hall and Glidemaster in 2003 and 2006, respectively, were both owned, in part, by Bob Burgess and his daughter-in-law Karin Olsson-Burgess of Ontario and trained by Karin’s husband, Blair. In 2010, the Takter-trained Muscle Massive won the Hambletonian for a group that included Marv Katz, Al Libfeld and Sam Goldband of Toronto and Louie Camara of Puslinch, Ont.

That the Fieldings, Liverman and Christina Takter also own this year’s Hambletonian Oaks winner Wild Honey was extra special to Herb.

“This is the best. You can’t do better. Last November we won two Breeders Crowns, but this is better. Even though I’ve won the Hambletonian before, to win this and the Oaks the same day is, wow,” Herb said, holding the sides of his head in amazement.

Not that it was easy, particularly for John Fielding. Last year, Father Patrick looked poised to break Fielding’s Hambletonian dry spell, but drew the 10-hole and then made a break leaving. Before that, Fielding drew the nine with Guccio in 2012 and finished second. The same year, Fielding’s Uncle Peter went off as the favourite, but made a break at the top of the stretch while sitting second to eventual winner Market Share. In 2011, Father Patrick’s older brother, Pastor Stephen, also drew the 10-hole and finished fifth.

This year, Pinkman and driver Yannick Gingras overcame the 10-hole in the first elimination to win. Then Gingras won the second elimination with Mission Brief and opted to drive the Ron Burke-trained filly in the seven-figure final later that afternoon. Brian Sears stepped in to drive Pinkman to victory.

Asked how quickly Sears agreed to drive Pinkman, Takter said, “I didn’t have to twist his arm.”

Pinkman has won 14 of 17 races lifetime with earnings of $1,766,800. Not bad for a horse the connections placed in the Harrisburg Mixed Sale as a two-year-old, but reconsidered after gelding the trotter improved his results on the track.

While that will deny Pinkman a stallion career, John Fielding, for one, is just fine with that trade off.


August 12, 2015 - 9:50 amtoo bad for the quality of US

too bad for the quality of US breeding.
A gelding winning the Hambletonian and a filly with hobbles finish second.
Stake like the Hambo should be reserve to male and female, no gelding, no hobbles.
I remember why a trotteur was racing with hobblers, he was call a pacer.

Remember the Mayor Drapeau project in Montréal.
A plan to create 25,000 jobs, and with non-lucrative associations, with the return of tracks b-c-d, and the European betting ?
Now, the same project is a realty in Russia.
The Société du Cheval Français and the PMU ( off track betting, have signed all the documents with the Russian government..
Russia in 10 years, will be a country to visit pour his horse racing industry.

August 11, 2015 - 4:45 pmCongratulations to all the

Congratulations to all the Fielding Family on their "Hambo Double". Hope the success stays with deserving people like you folks !!!

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