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Hambletonian, Oaks Draw Complete

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Published: August 4, 2009 2:01 pm ET

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Draws for this Saturday's $1,520,333 Hambletonian and $783,042 Hambletonian Oaks were finalized during a press conference today at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

Muscle Hill will start in Saturday’s $1.5 million Hambletonian at the Meadowlands from post No. 1 and was established as the 3-5 favourite to capture the most prestigious trophy in trotting.

As an elimination winner last weekend, the connections of Muscle Hill got to select their starting spot during Tuesday’s draw. Also choosing post positions were the connections of the two other elim winners, Explosive Matter and Symphonic Hanover.

“He’s a good athlete, so you don’t have to do a whole lot with him,” trainer Greg Peck said about Muscle Hill after picking second, following the connections of Explosive Matter, in making his post selection. “I think it is business as usual (this week). It’s a horse race. In sports, you genuinely do not know (what is going to happen). There are nine other horses in there with a chance. We do not take this lightly.”

Muscle Hill, driven regularly by Brian Sears, is four-for-four this year and will bring a 12-race win streak into the Hambletonian. He won his Hambletonian elim by 2-3/4 lengths over Triumphant Caviar in 1:52.3. His lifetime victories include the Breeders Crown, Peter Haughton Memorial, and divisions of the International Stallion, Bluegrass and Stanley Dancer Memorial stakes. He has earned $1.07 million in his career.

The colt is owned by Jerry Silva, TLP Stable, Southwind Farm, and Muscle Hill Racing.

“He’s done everything pretty easy. He’s just waiting for me to call on him,” Sears said. “He’s been very good. There are still some nice colts and it’s not over until it’s over. We’ll still have to get things to go our way.”

Favourites won the last two Hambletonian finals -- Deweycheatumnhowe in 2008 and Donato Hanover in 2007 -- after a five year drought.

Explosive Matter won his Hambletonian elimination by 1-1/2 lengths over Hot Shot Blue Chip in a career-best 1:52.3. He has won three of five races this year and earned $126,942. He is trained by Noel Daley and driven by Ron Pierce. Bred and owned by the Adam Victor & Son Stable, the colt was second to Muscle Hill in his Stanley Dancer Memorial division on July 17 despite going off stride while moving to the front from Post 7 at the start of the race.

“I’ve raced him since he was two and he’s always shown me he has some high speed,” Pierce said. “He can go.”

Symphonic Hanover, driven by David Miller, won his Hambletonian elim by three lengths over Judge Joe in 1:54.1. Symphonic Hanover is trained by Jonas Czernyson, who will be looking to win this year’s Hambletonian for his former mentor, Per Eriksson. Czernyson owns Symphonic Hanover with Eriksson, who won the Hambletonian three times as a trainer, and Karl-Erik Bender, Per Rodert, and Rune Schonborg.

Last year, Symphonic Hanover was second to Muscle Hill in the Peter Haughton Memorial. This year, he has won three of five races.

“It’s touching to have (Eriksson) here as an owner,” said Czernyson, who also trains Hambletonian finalist Hot Shot Blue Chip. “I’m very happy about that. I wish I could get him to clean stalls, but he’s definitely going to do some work (this week).”

Heading into Saturday's $783,042 Hambletonian Oaks, Elusive Desire, who will start from the inside post position, has been installed as the 5-2 favourite.

Elusive Desire, last year's O'Brien Award winner as Canada's Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year, continued her winning ways south of the border as she rolled to her fifth straight victory in the second of three Hambletonian Oaks eliminations. John Campbell steered the Angus Hall lass to a career best 1:53.2 effort, the fastest of the elim clockings.

Mike Keeling trains Elusive Desire for Paula Wellwood of Cambridge, Charlie Armstrong of Brampton and Robert Fasken of Oakville, Ont. Regular pilot Paul MacDonell will be back in the bike for Saturday's lucrative final.

The full fields are as follows:

$1,520,333 Hambletonian

1. Muscle Hill - Brian Sears - 3-5
2. Explosive Matter - Ron Pierce - 5-1
3. Symphonic Hanover - David Miller - 8-1
4. Hot Shot Blue Chip - Mike Lachance - 10-1
5. Triumphant Caviar - Luc Ouellette - 15-1
6. Calchips Brute - John Campbell - 30-1
7. Reinsman Hanover - Tim Tetrick - 30-1
8. The Chancellor - Andy Miller - 30-1
9. Federal Flex - Jody Jamieson - 8-1
10. Judge Joe - D.R. Ackerman - 15-1

$783,042 Hambletonian Oaks

1. Elusive Desire - Paul MacDonell - 5-2
2. Raising Rachel - Jack Moiseyev - 7-2
3. OK To Play - Dan Dube - 8-1
4. Broadway Schooner - Brian Sears - 9-2
5. Moonlight Kronos - Tim Tetrick - 10-1
6. Jersey As - Tim Tetrick - 20-1
7. Margarita Momma - Ron Pierce - 8-1
8. I Wanted Wings - David Miller - 20-1
9. Honorable Daughter - John Campbell - 6-1
10. Timelesswinner Two - Andy Miller - 20-1

Please note that drivers are not finalized.

The remainder of the stakes-packed card of harness racing will be finalized this afternoon.

Click here for full recaps and replays of the Hambletonian eliminations.

Click here to view the transcript from Tuesday's Hambletonian Press Conference.

2009 Hambletonian Day At A Glace

Saturday, August 8
Post time: 12:30 p.m.; Gates open: 10:30 a.m.

  • $1,520,333 million Hambletonian (3yoct): Race 10 - Post time 4:15 p.m.
  • $783,042 Hambletonian Oaks (3yoft): Race 9 - Post time 3:37 p.m.
  • New web site: www.thehambletonian.com
  • NBC Broadcast: 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. -- The $1.5 million Hambletonian, and its companion event, the Hambletonian Oaks for fillies, will be broadcast live on NBC Sports. The Hambletonian remains the only harness race to be nationally televised by one of the four major networks.
  • Live broadcasts: WFAN 66 AM, hosted by Marc Malusis, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
  • Special Wagering Options: $100,000 Guaranteed Pick 4 (Races 7-10); Pacing Pick 4 (Races 12-15; no guarantee); Pick 6 (Races 5-10) and 10-cent Superfectas on the entire Hambletonian Day card. Advance wagering begins at 12 p.m. on Friday, August 7.
  • Music: The Nerds, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Paddock Park
  • Parade: On-track parade at 11 a.m., featuring the Willow Grove Clydesdales, Passaic High School Marching Band, Zembo Shriners, 1991 Hambletonian winner Giant Victory, NJ Mounted Police, Medieval Times Knights and Horses, Meadowlands drivers, past Hambletonian winners and much more!
  • Giveaways: All paid admissions receive a free 2009 commemorative Hambletonian baseball cap. Children receive a Hambletonian bucket hat (both while supply lasts).
  • Family Fun (from 10:30 a.m.): Pony rides (until 4:30 p.m.); Carnival games, amusement rides, giant slide, sports games, face painting and henna art (until 5 p.m.)
  • Supporting Stakes: $525,800 Merrie Annabelle (2yoft), $523,600 Peter Haughton Memorial (2yoct), $405,000 Mistletoe Shalee (3yofp), $335,000 US Pacing Championship (FFA pace), $300,000 Nat Ray (FFA trot) and $230,000 Oliver Wendell Holmes (3yocp)
  • Kings Super Markets Food Drive: Donate a non-perishable food item to the Community Food Bank of NJ and receive free admission and a coupon for a baseball cap.
  • Autograph Session: Join the USTA as it hosts a contingent of drivers and trainers for autographs in Paddock Park from 11:15 a.m. to noon. A limited number of free photos of the participating horsemen will be available, including John Campbell, Steve Elliott, Yannick Gingras, Andy Miller, David Miller, Ron Pierce, Brian Sears and Tim Tetrick. The USTA will also have for sale 11-by-14 posters of many drivers, suitable for framing. They cost just $5, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting racehorse adoption. Also offered is one-of-a-kind Hambletonian T-shirt made exclusively for the event.

(With files from Harness Racing Communications & NJSEA)


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