Many of harness racing’s best and brightest stars faced off during the biggest afternoon harness racing has to offer at the Meadowlands Racetrack on Saturday.
Full coverage of the Hambletonian Day undercard can be found below.
$275,000 Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic
The speed show continued as three-year-old pacers closed out the stakes-packed card at the Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day. While Hurrikane Kingcole looked to be the one writing his name in the record books, Sylvain Filion and Panther Hanover had other ideas.
Filion was fastest off the gate in the $275,000 Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic for three-year-old New Jersey-sired pacers, with Time To Roll (Andy Miller) using his rail draw to place himself forwardly along with favoured speedster Hurrikane Kingcole (Yannick Gingras). Filion stretched out Gingras through the opening quarter of :26.3, then Hurrikane Kingcole eventually cleared.
No one moved down the backstretch. Likely because Gingras had 'Kingcole' rolling through a :52.2 half, followed up with a scorching 1:18.2 three-quarters. The field was stretched out, except for Panther Hanover, who was right on Gingras' helmet the entire way coming into the stretch.
As Gingras asked for more from Hurrikane Kingcole, Filion guided Panther Hanover into a position to pounce on the pacesetter. As the wire approached, Panther Hanover got up just in time in a dazzling 1:47.2 mile to demolish the stakes record and pace the third fastest mile ever by a sophomore.
"We were going, we were flying. Last week my horse got on the right line at the end of it so I knew he would be alright this week and we would have a shot," stated Filion after the win. "I didn't even look at the fractions. I was just paying attention to the horse in front of me and hopefully I could go by down the lane. Actually, I thought I had a good shot of beating him at the top of the stretch. I saw Yannick working on his horse and mine was still going so I knew I had the shot."
While Panther Hanover had been racing primarily against conditioned horses at Mohawk prior to this race, Filion didn't downplay his colt's talent.
"He's been nice all along. He's never raced against good horses like this. We found out last week how good he really is."
It's back-to-back wins in the New Jersey Classic for owner Jim Carr of Hamilton, Ont., who also campaigned 2011 Classic winner Big Jim.
"It feels great. I thought we had a good chance of beating Hurrikane Kingcole if we got a good trip. He's a pretty nice horse, if he hadn't of been injured earlier in the season he would have been in a lot of the big races.
"I've got another nice two-year-old, but I don't know if he's good enough to do it three years in a row, but hopefully we'll be back next year."
Panther Hanover (Rocknroll Hanover - Panned Out) is now seven-for-10 lifetime and five-for-six this season.
$242,500 U.S. Pacing Championship
Golden Receiver did what he does best – and that was make speed all the way to wire in his front-stepping score in the $242,500 U.S. Pacing Championship for the tandem of driver Andy Miller and trainer Mark Harder.
Miller blasted the seven-year-old son of Village Jove-Royal Gold to immediate command from the pole position, and after going unchallenged through panels of :26.2 and :54.1 he turned aside a challenge from Aracache Hanover to the three-quarter pole in 1:21.1. His :27.1 final quarter was more than enough to earn him the 1:48 decision over the dead-game Aracache Hanover, with Meirs Hanover taking home the bronze medal in the 12-horse affair.
The 1:48 victory was the 14th sub-1:50 score for the 47-time winner, who has managed to put together a sparkling record of 11-3-1 from 18 starts this season. The career winner of $1,182,675 is owned by Stable 45, Richard Taylor, Stephen Springer and Nina Simmonds.
$714,050 Hambletonian Oaks
Nary a Hambletonian Day card goes by without a stunning upset, and longshot Personal Style chalked one up for handicappers who like to swing for the fences when she rallied to win the Hambletonian Oaks. David Miller mapped out the winning trip for the Richard ‘Nifty’ Norman trainee, who got up in the closing strides to pull off the 50-1 stunner.
Heavily favoured Check Me Out was hustled to the lead by Tim Tetrick, and she appeared to be in complete control through very sensible fractions of :28 and :55. At the mid-way point of the final turn, however, the landscape of the race changed drastically when Check Me Out self-destructed and was guided to the outside of the track. Maven was bothered by that breaker, and she, too, went off stride while mounting a first-over challenge.
Win Missy B, who inherited the lead at that point, rolled past the three-quarter pole in 1:23.2, but she was hauled down in the final strides by Miller and Personal Style. Time for the mile was 1:53.1. Win Missy B was a brave runner-up, with Sassy Syrinx finishing fourth-placed-third. Check Me Out recovered to finish third, but was then placed eighth after being found guilty of impeding Maven while off stride around the final turn.
“I was second over around the last turn and following Yannick [Gingras driving Maven]. Check Me Out run and she started to go to the outside and then Maven run and I had clear sailing. My mare closes real well, and I was hoping I was close enough to get her [Win Missy B].”
The three-year-old daughter of Yankee Glide-Foxy Victory, who was a $92,000 purchase from the 2010 Lexington Select Yearling Sale, is owned by Brittany Farms of Versailles, KY and Mel Hartman of Ottawa, Ont. After a two-for-eight rookie campaign, the sophomore now boasts a 3-3-2 record from just 10 trips to the track this season. The winner’s share of the purse bumped Personal Style’s career earnings to $558,900.
Driver Tim Tetrick wasn't sure what happened to Check Me Out for her to make such an uncharacteristic break.
"Around the last turn she took a bad step, turned her knee boot around. Maybe she stepped in a hole or something. She trotted down the lane 100 [miles an hour] to get third. It just wasn’t our day."
$250,000 Nat Ray Invitational
Chapter Seven rewrote the record books yet again with a world record mile in the $250,000 Nat Ray Invitational for open trotters on Hambletonian Day at The Meadowlands.
Daylon Magician (Brian Sears) were quickest off the gate from the outside Post 7 and crossed over to the front before the turn, with Sevruga (Andy Miller) in second and favoured Chapter Seven (Tim Tetrick) sat in third with arch rival Mister Herbie (Jody Jamieson) on his helmet in fourth.
The opening planel flashed up in a modest :27.4, giving Tetrick his cue to right-line from third and forge ahead for the front. Chapter Seven was on point for the :54.3 half-mile split as Mister Herbie started his first over bid. Those two top trotters were toe-to-toe through three-quarters in a torrid 1:22.1 as the crowd wondered if the 1:50 barrier could and would be broken.
As the horse hit the lane, Mister Herbie started to drift out and lose ground on Chapter Seven, and that momentum shift proved crucial as Chapter Seven tripped the timer in 1:50.1. That mile time matched the fastest mile ever trotted at The Meadowlands and set a new world record for four-year-old trotting stallions.
Trainer Linda Toscano was not surprised at the mile time.
"I really have so much confidence in this horse and it's a hot day and the track is incredibly fast. I knew it would be fast, I'm just glad it was us first.
"I think we controlled the race this time and we're also on home turf."
Toscano trains Chapter Seven (Windsongs Legacy - La Riviera Lindy) for Richard Gutnick of Blue Bell, PA, Southwind Farm of Pennington, NJ, J & T Silva Stables of Long Beach, NY, and thinks that the stallion could be still getting better.
"He's got to just be getting race tight at this point. I mean I didn't expect him to be as good as he was right off the get-go and he's just been an exceptional horse."
After the race, Mister Herbie's driver, Jody Jamieson, commented on his horse's trip.
“I thought I was a winner around the last turn. I felt well in control, at the three-quarters I thought I would go by, but Tim got by me.”
$50,000 Vincennes Invitational
A suddenly-streaking Coco Lindy survived a first-over journey to take home bragging rights and the $25,000 lion’s share of the Vincennes Invitational for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Frank Antonacci.
Tetrick tucked into the five-hole with the five-year-old son of Cantab Hall-Nutty Butty while Rose Run Hooligan and Likeabatoutahell took turns on the lead through fractions of :27.4 and :55.1. Likeabatoutahell was still on the lead at the three-quarter pole in 1:23.2, but Coco Lindy and Tetrick had commenced a first-over rally and they were bearing down on the tempo-setter. Coco Lindy kicked into another gear when he entered the stretch, and the Frank Antonacci pupil out-kicked his foes to the finish line in a time of 1:52.4. Rose Run Hooligan re-emerged to finish third, with the show dough being earned by Opening Night.
“He’s stepping up his game a lot,” said Tetrick afterward. “Franky’s [trainer Frank Antonacci] got him going in the right direction. He was first-over from about the three-eighths home.”
The victory was the sixth of the season and the 19th to date for the homebred gelding who is owned by Lindy Farms Of Conn of Enfield, CT and Robert Rudolph of Vineland, NJ. With the win, Coco Lindy upped his lifetime earnings to $311,432.
$387,250 Peter Haughton Memorial Final
Swedish drivers have now won back-to-back editions of the Peter Haughton Memorial. After Weingartner won in 2011 with Johnny Takter, trainer-driver Jim Oscarsson and Aperfectyankee captured the 2012 $387,250 Peter Haughton Memorial Final for two-year-old trotting colts on Hambletonian Day at The Meadowlands.
Oscarsson pointed Aperfectyankee for early command from Post 4 and managed to hit the opening quarter in :28.2. Brian Sears hustled favoured Major Athens up to challenge and clear for comamnd.
As the trotters reached the :56.2 half, Sears and Major Athens looked strong on the front and started to open up on the field with no threat to the lead. Aperfectyankee pulled pocket before the 1:24.3 third station and started to pull away from the field in the stretch. Oscarsson urged his trotter for more as Corky (David Miller) made a late charge between horses, but came up a head short. Aperfectyankee hit the wire in 1:54.1, just one-fifth of a second off Holiday Road's stakes record.
"He was strong all the way and I was satisfied," stated Oscarsson after the race.
Fittingly, a former student of the Haughton Stable won this race as Oscarsson worked with the Haughton family years ago. Oscarsson has trained horses in Sweden for more that 25 years, but made a change in training strategy last year.
"It was so cold the past two, three winters in Sweden I said to my wife 'let's go to Florida this year' and here we are."
Oscarsson owns, trains and drives Aperfectyankee (Yankee Glide - Asixpakfromperfect), a $55,000 yearling purchase last Fall.
$354,450 Merrie Annabelle
A track and stakes record-setting performance of 1:54 was turned in by To Dream On, who rallied from a very tough spot for driver David Miller and trainer Jimmy Takter.
Tim Tetrick was allowed to set fractions of :28.1, :56.3 and 1:25.3 with Royal Assets, who opened up a big lead coming off the final turn, but To Dream On kicked off third-over cover and staged a ruthless late rally en route to notching her fourth victory in as many tries. Royal Assets held on bravely to finish second, with third prize going to Raring To Go S.
"She's a girl that was born with unbelievable natural talent," commented Takter after the victory. "I'm very fortunate to be around a horse like that. I mean I've been around some great two-year-olds in general, but from where she was in the race, making it up, that’s just fantastic. The brush she has - I've been fortunate enough to drive her, I know the speed she has - it's like driving a pacer that is a great pacer."
The two-year-old daughter of Credit Winner-Satin Pillows, who was a $200,000 purchase from last year’s Harrisburg Yearling Sale, is owned by Marvin Katz of Toronto and Al Libfeld of Pickering, Ont. The lion’s share of the purse boosted her cash stash to $206,332
$309,050 Woodrow Wilson Final
Captaintreacherous and driver Tim Tetrick were 1-5 on the toteboard and validated those odds with a track record in the $309,050 Woodrow Wilson Final for two-year-old pacing colts on Hambletonian Day at The Meadowlands.
With a number of colts looking for the lead into the first turn, Muscle Beachboy (Brian Sears) won that struggle with a :26.4 opener. Tetrick was positioned third with Captaintreacherous, but moved once the field settled and made the lead easily. Delaware Hanover (Corey Callahan) pulled from fourth to start the outer flow through the :54.3 half with Nassau County (Gingras) second over.
Tetrick asked his colt for a bit more pace as the field sped past three-quarters in 1:22.1 as Delaware Hanover began to back through. At the top of the stretch, Captaintreacherous found another gear and opened up by multiple lengths with a :27.2 closing panel to trip the timer in 1:49.3. Hail The Taxi (John Campbell) rallied for second with Martini Hanover (Jim Morrill Jr.) grabbing show.
The first sub 1:50 two-year-old mile at the Meadowlands, Captaintreacherous broke the 11-year-old track record of the ill-fated Western Shooter, set in 2001.
"He was very impressive. I just asked him a little bit and he paced right away from them and he coasted all the way to the wire," noted Tetrick after the race. "He's a very nice colt, takes care of himself. He doesn't know how fast he's going, which is the best attribute of this colt."
Tetrick's impression of the first crop of Somebeachsomewhere is that the stallion is a "game changer" for harness racing.
"They've been very impressive and good to drive and have high, high speed. What else can you ask for?"
Owned by Brittany Farms of Versailles, KY, Marvin Katz of Toronto, Ont., Joe Sbrocco of Brecksville, OH, and White Birch Farm, Allentown, NJ, Captaintreacherous (Somebeachsomewhere - Worldly Treasure) was a $250,000 yearling and is trained by Tony Alagna.
"He always showed from the time we started going with him that he just had that little bit of extra that you look for in a top colt," commented Alagna. "He just went through everything so easy and every time we asked him he just found a little bit more and would come back to you. He's just been a very professional horse from the get-go."
When asked if Alagna was surprised by the time of the mile, he regretfully informed Bob Heyden that he wasn't.
"I hate to say it, but I think that highly of this colt. I think we've done a nice job, Timmy's done a great job managing him for us and I think that he's that kind of horse."
Corey Callahan wisely kept Jerseylicious away from the wicked early speed, and as a result he and his charge were able to pick up the pieces late en route to pulling off a 9-1 upset in 1:52.1.
UF Dragons Queen rocketed to the engine and laid down an opening quarter clocked in :26.4 before releasing the parked-out Odds On Alpha to the top in the backstretch. Odds On Alpha led the field of eight past the half in :54.2 before being pressed around the final turn by race favourite Nikki Beach. Those two sprinted to the three-quarter pole in 1:23.2, with Callahan and Jerseylicious poised to take them on from second over. Callahan tipped off cover with Jerseylicious and she surged past Nikki Beach en route to the victory. Cult Status rounded out the top three finishers.
Shebestingin was a late scratch due to lameness and Acquavella was scratched earlier in the day due to sickness.
Wayne Givens trains the maiden-breaking winner, Jerseylicious, who now boasts a 1-2-1 record from her first four assignments. Legacy Racing Of De Inc. of Seaford and Pamela Curran of Milford, DE share ownership on the career winner of $147,856.
Race Under Saddle
Helene Gregory rode Master Pine to victory in the racing under saddle trot Saturday at the Meadowlands Racetrack in a North American race record 1:57.1.
Take My Picture and rider Therese Lindgren were second, followed by Muscolo and Karen Isbell.
Master Pine, a nine-year-old gelding with 38 career wins and $612,864 in purses, is trained by Julie Miller. He was making his under saddle debut.
Gregory is the wife of harness racing driver Jeff Gregory.
$125,000 Thomas D'Altrui SBOA Miss New Jersey Final
Sarandon Blue Chip was a dominant winner in the $125,000 Thomas D'Altrui SBOA Miss New Jersey for three-year-old New Jersey-Sired Fillies.
The early battle was waged between Air Guitar Hanover (Corey Callahan) and Blackjack Princess (Mark MacDonald). Blackjack Princess cleared to the top before the :27 open panel, but the lead was short-lived. Childs Play (Yannick Gingras) was advancing and eager for control with favoured Rockaround Sue (Andy Miller) on his helmet.
Childs Play gained the front and then allowed Rockaround Sue to take command before the :54 half. Dave Miller had Sarandon Blue Chip first up and advancing with Pirouette Hanover (Ron Pierce) second over. At the 1:21.4 three-quarters, Sarandon Blue Chip had pulled even with the pacesetter, but put her away in the stretch. Miller opened up daylight on the field with Sarandon Blue Chip, never threatened by a late-closing Mikeleh (John Campbell) and winning in a time of 1:50.1. Pirouette Hanover held off Balckjack Princess for third.
Trainer Casie Coleman co-owns Sarandon Blue Chip (Western Ideal - Molly Can Do It) with Tom Hill of Lancashire, Great Britain. The mile time of 1:50.1 is a new life's best for Sarandon Blue Chip, now a winner of three of eight lifetime starts. The win also marked the third Miss New Jersey win for driver David Miller.
$253,700 Lady Liberty
The trip was perfect and the end result was historical for Put On A Show, who became the sport’s fastest distaffer of all-time thanks to her 1:47.3 triumph for driver Jody Jamieson and trainer Chris Ryder. The effort erased Anndrovette’s former world mark of 1:48.1.
Anndrovette powered to the lead from the rail, but Put On A Show left sharply and crossed over for the pocket trip to the first turn. Anndrovette drilled an opening quarter in :26.1 and hit the half in :53.2 before coming under attack around the final turn from even-money favourite Drop The Ball. Those two arrived at the head of the lane together, with Put On A Show twisting and turning in the hunt for racing room at the rail. Jamieson angled outside before ducking back to the rail when it opened up in deep stretch, and Put On A Show stormed through the breach to freeze the teletimer in 1:47.3. Rebeka Bayama (Sylvain Filion) turned a second-over trip into a runner-up effort, while Anndrovette faded late to finish third.
"She’s just an amazing mare,” said Jamieson. “She put on a show again. It's an amazing accomplishment for her to finally have the world record in her name. That's the greatest mare to ever look through a bridle and it's an amazing experience getting to drive her.
"She's an off the pace mare, she's always been off-the-pace chasing them down and today it just felt like off the gate Timmy [Tetrick] was wanting to lead and he was trying to dictate like he did at Mohawk and got the better of us all and I just thought if I was closer to her I'd have a better shot and she did,” he added. “She's a world champion mare."
Craig Henderson of Chicago, IL shares ownership on the five-year-old daughter of Rocknroll Hanover-Stienams Place with Richard and Joanne Young of Coconut Creek, FL. The victory was her eighth of the season from 14 assignments, and it goes down as her 27th lifetime tally. The lion’s share of the purse lifted her career earnings to $2,300,093.
$30,000 Duenna Stakes
Trainer/driver Jimmy Takter took no prisoners with Valdonna, who could not be caught once she cleared to the position of command.
Takter hustled the three-year-old daughter of Andover Hall-Valbonne right to the lead from Post 6 and after whacking out fractions of :27.4, :56 and 1:24.2 she kicked home in a :28-second clip to win in going-away fashion over Dorsay and Bluff.
Valdonna struck a pose for the track photographer for the third time this season. The career winner of $89,177 was sent off as the 3-2 favourite in the nine-filly affair.
$30,000 Duenna Stakes
Ron Pierce marched Delicious the front, and after parking past the quarter pole the three-year-old daughter of Cantab Hall-Ipsara LB kept on trucking en route to posting the front-stepping score in a career-best clocking of 1:53.1.
Blue Yonder fired to the lead and parked the eventual winner past the first panel in :27.1 before Delicious muscled to the top. Delicious cruised through middle splits of :55.1 and 1:24.1 before using a :29-second closing quarter to seal the deal. Blue Yonder was next best, with third prize going to Chocolatta De Vie.
Three-time Hambletonian-winning trainer Ron Gurfein sent out the 14-1 upsetter, who improved her 2012 record to 3-2-2 from nine starts. The career winner of $202,005, who was purchased for a mere $8,000 from the 2010 Lexington Select Yearling Sale, is owned by Patrick Quaid of Evergreen Park, IL along with the J And T Silva Stables LLC of Long Beach, NY.