A Hambletonian Day Triple Threat

Published: August 5, 2015 11:21 am EDT

“It always feels good to have three strong contenders and it’s the Hambletonian Day card which is always exciting.”

Trainer Jeff Bamond Jr. is poised to send out a devastatingly-talented triple threat on Saturday afternoon's card at the Meadowlands with his trio of pacing stars appearing in back to back races, the Lady Liberty and the U.S. Pacing Championship.

The Lady Liberty, contested at a distance of 1 1/8 miles, drew a field of eleven top mares all looking to claim the lion’s share of the $251,250 purse. Bamond has two shots at the top, with O’Brien Award winner Anndrovette leaving from post position five while Venus Delight is relegated to the second tier in post position eleven.

“Anndrovette came out of the Golden Girls really good, knock on wood,” said Bamond Jr. “She’s always the same, a top class mare every start out.”

Owned by Bamond's father Jeff Bamond along with Joe Davino, the Riverboat King mare has bankrolled over $3.3 million dollars with 122 starts at the top tier of racing. The Golden Girls was contested at the Meadowlands on July 18, with Anndrovette clearing to the top and relinquishing the lead only briefly to post time favourite Sandbetweenurtoes before driving on to win the extra-distance event in 2:02.4.

Though her performances are often impressive, the Meadowlands has been historically a weak spot in her record. Bamond believes this will become a blemish of the past as he feels confident in his trainee’s ability to put forward a competitive effort.

“I think she got kind of a different trip the last time she raced there. Most of the Meadowlands miles, she cuts some big fractions. In a world record mile, she was beaten by only a length. I think she’s had more bad luck than good at the Meadowlands, I don’t think she’s any less capable there than anywhere else.”

With three consecutive Roses Are Red Stakes titles in her esteemed career, it came as a shock to many that she didn’t add a fourth to her tally in 2015. Finishing third in her elimination, the O’Brien Award winner settled for seventh in the final which Lady Shadow swept in a tidy 1:48.3.

“She hadn’t been that sharp coming in to the Roses are Red. I was more holding out hope that she had been so good in the past in that event. I think that was a better trip for her at the Meadowlands, she’s getting better at racing off the pace a little bit more and I think that’s a better place for her.

“I’d like to see more of the same from her on Saturday; ideally she’ll work out a good trip and pounce late. She’s getting back to where I like her to be and I think we can expect a strong performance.”

As the event as able to forego eliminations and proceed directly to a final, she was entered back in at the Big M in the Open event, finishing fourth in a tight finish in 1:50.3, closing in :27.1. Regular pilot Tim Tetrick will be in the bike for Saturday’s card.

Bamond’s second pacing sensation will be found in the second tier in the Lady Liberty, seemingly in continuation of a streak of challenging post positions. Venus Delight will be looking to overcome her seventh place performance in the Golden Girls where she also started from the eleven hole, looking to claim back bragging rights from her stablemate.

“She never really had a chance in the Golden Girls. It’s tough when you don’t get to start on a gate, with a field that large and the two-tiered style that comes with it. She didn’t have a chance to get off the rail.”

Also owned by Bamond Racing, Venus Delight seems to have bounced back since the Golden Girls, finishing second by a head in a strong performance in the Fillies and Mares Open at Yonkers, pacing in 1:53 over the half-mile track.

“'Venus' has never given herself a bad race, she’s always been right there. She’s had bad luck, starting from the eleven hole in the Breeders Crown last year and the same trip as the Golden Girls. She won the Blue Chip final at Yonkers Raceway handily. I think she can go with any of them, just needs a little more luck and a good trip on her side.”

In the last year under the tutelage of P.J. Fraley and now Bamond, the five-year-old Bettors Delight mare has established herself as a contender on the Grand Circuit. She has made 21 trips to the winner’s circle in her 54 lifetime starts, becoming a force to be reckoned with as a half-mile specialist.

“She put in some good qualifying miles at the Meadowlands so I think she has the sprint and the speed to handle a big track. She won it going away in her Roses are Red elimination so I think she can do it again this time around.”

Her Roses Are Red elimination was a topic of contention as her interference with Katie Said and Yannick Gingras in the stretch drive caused her to be placed eighth. Though her connections appealed the decision prior to the final, the decision was upheld.

“I would hope that she continues moving forward like she has been and stays sharp. She’s a better horse than some of those starts, hopefully with a good draw and a better trip she’ll make a name for herself.”

While Bamond campaigns two top flight horses in the older pacing mares division, he is hesitant to draw any major comparisons between the two.

“I think Venus Delight needs a little more of a trip while Anndrovette can rough it out a little more. It’s tough to say, comparing these two mares. ‘Venus’ hasn’t proven herself on the same level as of yet so it’s not fair to compare. They’re both top class.”

Team Bamond will be featured at both ends of the post position spectrum on Saturday night with Mach It So rounding out his stable’s trio from the rail in the US Pacing Championship Final.

The five-year-old Mach Three gelding was born in Caledonia, Ont. for breeder Enviro Stables Ltd. In seven Ontario Sires Stakes appearances, he only lost one race in each season. He is poised to become racing’s newest millionaire, less than $2,000 away from the milestone.

“I think he’s had some bad luck early in the season, bad draws and bad luck. I think he got his dues in the Haughton and he’s set himself to come back strong and ready on Saturday.”

Tim Tetrick and Mach It So got away fifth, grinding their way to the top and claiming victory in a tight 1:48.1 mile over State Treasurer and Foiled Again in July’s William Haughton Memorial. His last start before Saturday’s event came in the TVG Open, where he finished fourth just back a length of the winner.

“If you go back and look at him, he was a good three-year-old and got sick at the end of the year. He was in the Little Brown Jug, he was on the front-end for most of the mile and they got him towards the end but he still finished strong. He was shut down for the season a couple starts after.

“I think he’s a good horse on a half but he’s not as handy on a half as some other tracks. He’s pretty easy going, but he can adapt to any sort of style, whether it’s off the pace or something else. He’s just as good on a mile track as anywhere else, if not better.”

Heading into the Championship, Bamond is confident in Mach It So’s ability to race against the best. The all-star field also features State Treasurer, JK Endofanera and veteran Foiled Again.

“He’s very sharp, the week off did him good before the Haughton. I’ve found that he’s always a much better horse when he’s fresh and had a bit of a break.”

Post time for the Meadowlands' Saturday card kicks off at 12:00 p.m. with a slew of stakes on the card, headlined by the highly-anticipated Hambletonian.

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Hannah Beckett)

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