Looking Like A Million

Oh Well
Published: August 2, 2023 04:45 pm EDT

Oh Well heads into Saturday with one million-dollar win already to his credit and will try to add a second when he goes behind the gate with nine rivals in the $1 million Hambletonian Stakes for three-year-old trotters at The Meadowlands.

Given the limited opportunities to compete in million-dollar races, it is difficult for a trotter to capture multiple events with seven-figure purses. A handful of successes spring to mind from this century: Windsongs Legacy, Donato Hanover, Deweycheatumnhowe, Muscle Hill and Market Share. All won two million-dollar races in their careers, both at age three, the Hambletonian and Canadian Trotting Classic.

Oh Well won the Mohawk Million at age two at Woodbine Mohawk Park. He will go into Saturday’s Hambletonian as the 7-2 second choice on the morning line, leaving from post two with Tim Tetrick driving for trainer Marcus Melander. Tetrick won the 2012 Hambletonian with Market Share. Melander is seeking his first trophy. He finished second with Joviality S in 2022 and Greenshoe in 2019.

A son of Muscle Hill-Fine Tuned Lady, Oh Well has been a model of consistency during his career. The colt has finished no worse than second in 13 of 14 lifetime races, with five wins. Only three times has he been beaten by more than a length.

This season, Oh Well has a 1:51.2 win in a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial on July 15 at The Meadowlands to go with five seconds in six starts. He was second in his Hambletonian elimination last week, finishing a half-length behind Point Of Perfect in 1:51.2.

“He’s got a lot of second places this year, but he’s been racing good,” said Melander. “He’s gone [1]:50, [1]:51 a couple of times. A couple of times, he just got beat by the wire when someone was flying, like with Air Power in the New Jersey Sire Stakes final.

“It’s been a good year for him even if he’s only won one race so far. He was really good in the Stanley Dancer, and if he gives another effort like that again, like he always does, he should be one of them that could win the race.”

Oh Well is owned by S R F Stable, which won the 2017 Hambletonian with Perfect Spirit and was among the owners of 2021 champ Captain Corey.

For his career, Oh Well has earned $1,049,872.

“Last year, he was a big horse, and it’s hard for them when they’re that big and just two years old,” said Melander. “He’s a lot stronger this year, more mature overall. I really like the horse. I think he has class. He can do a lot of work himself, so it’s not like he needs to be on the lead or that he needs a trip. He can do whatever you ask.”

Melander’s uncle, Stefan, won the 2001 Hambletonian as trainer-driver of Scarlet Knight.

In addition to having Oh Well in the Hambletonian, Melander has three horses in the companion $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for three-year-old female trotters. The draw was unkind, with his Kayleigh S getting post eight, Secret Volo getting post nine and Heaven Hanover getting post 10.

“It is what it is,” said Melander, who has twice finished second in the Oaks, with Hypnotic AM in 2020 and Iteration in 2021.

Despite her unfavourable starting spot, Secret Volo is the fifth choice on the morning line at 6-1. Walner Payton is the 3-1 favourite.

Secret Volo, the New York New York Mile winner in June at Yonkers, finished second behind Heart On Fire in her Oaks elimination with Brian Sears in the sulky. A daughter of Walner-Secret Serenity, she has two wins, two seconds and two thirds in six starts this season.

“She raced good in the elimination, I think,” said Melander. “It was a fast first quarter [:25.4] and Brian had to leave a little bit with her, but she finished strongly. She’s always right there with them. She’s not winning every week, but she’s always right there.”

Heaven Hanover, who was the Pennsylvania Stallion Series champ last year and won a division of the Delvin Miller Memorial at The Meadowlands on July 15, is 12-1 on the morning line. She was third in her Oaks elimination, which was won by Walner Payton. Tetrick will drive the daughter of Father Patrick-Hillarmbro.

“She didn’t have the speed last year,” said Melander. “We just kept her in the Stallion Series and let her develop that way. She was big last year, too, so she might have needed that year to just get some experience. This year, she’s a totally different horse. She feels like she has a lot more speed.”

Kayleigh S, a 2022 New York Sire Stakes champion, and driver David Miller are 20-1 on the morning line. Winless in six races this season, she was fourth in her Oaks elim. The daughter of Chapter Seven-Pasithea Face S is a full sister to Joviality S.

“I’m not sure why, but it took a couple of starts for her to get going,” said Melander. “She’s a little bit bigger than her sister, so maybe it just took a couple of starts before she got in that form. The last two races have been very good. She is getting better and better with every start.”

Three trainers have won the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks in the same year: Jan Johnson in 1988, Jimmy Takter in both 2014 and 2015, and Jim Campbell in 2022.


Speaking of trainers with an opportunity to win both the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks this year, Melander will be joined by Matt Bax, Ake Svanstedt and Ron Burke in pursuit of the two trophies.

Svanstedt, already a two-time winner of the Hambletonian, will send out Up Your Deo in Saturday’s Hambo and Bond in the Oaks.

Up Your Deo won the first jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown, the MGM Yonkers Trot, on June 30 and will try to add the second by winning the Hambletonian. He will start the Hambletonian from post six with Svanstedt driving and is 15-1 on the morning line. He finished fifth in his elimination, which was his first start since the Yonkers Trot.

“I expected more from him in the elimination; I was not satisfied,” said Svanstedt. “I hope he can be more sharp with just a week between races.”

Up Your Deo and Ake Svanstedt

Up Your Deo, a son of Walner-Grand Stand, was winless in eight starts last year. He has three wins and a third in five races this season.

“He has been very good this year,” said Svanstedt. “He was just a horse last year but coming back this year he’s improved mentally. Last year, he was stubborn, but this year he fights. He wants to win. He’s good gaited and is nice to drive. Everything is nice with him. I think he will be better [Saturday].”

Bond will start from post three in the Oaks with Svanstedt in the sulky and is 9-2 on the morning line. She finished fifth in her elim after getting to the opening quarter in a sizzling :25.4 and half in :53.4. Svanstedt made a bridle change prior to the race and plans to return to Bond’s previous bridle on Saturday.

“I let her go into the [first] turn, there were four or five horses [leaving], but then she got fired up and I couldn’t stop her,” said Svanstedt. “I don’t think there is anything wrong with her. It’s just that she must behave.”

Bond, a daughter of Southwind Frank-Boccone Dolce, has hit the board in 13 of 14 career races, winning 10. She had a nine-race win streak snapped on July 15 with a third-place finish in a division of the Delvin Miller Memorial.

“It was a tough race also, but she was just a little sick,” said Svanstedt. “Normally, she is fast and strong.”

Burke will send out two horses in the Hambletonian, morning-line favourite Celebrity Bambino and Point Of Perfect. Both were elimination winners last week. In the Oaks, he will have Railee Something, who is the 7-2 second choice on the morning line after finishing second to Walner Payton in her elim.

Railee Something has hit the board in 17 of 20 races, winning 11. She will start Saturday from post five with driver Yannick Gingras.

Railee Something and Ron Burke

“She’s been very good every start,” Burke said about the daughter of International Moni-Railee Priti. “We have to get her another half-length finishing. If we can find a half-length finishing, she can go with those fillies. We’ll make a bridle change with her. I think she’s getting alongside of horses and hanging. We’ll [make a change] to try to get her to surge by.”

The Hambletonian Oaks is race 10 on Saturday’s 16-race card, which begins at noon (EDT). The Hambletonian is race 12. For the day’s complete entries, click here. Free TrackMaster programs will be available on playmeadowlands.com.

Post time for the 98th edition of the Hambletonian is 4:45 p.m. (EDT) and can be seen live on FOX Sports.


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