Canadians Factor On Hambletonian Day Undercard

Published: August 5, 2023 12:28 pm EDT

A number of horses with connections to Canadian harness racing factored prominently in some of the undercard stakes and open events on the 2023 Hambletonian Day card on Saturday (August 5) at The Meadowlands.

Hambletonian Day launched with a strong 1:47.4 performance by Open pacer Stonebridge Helios on Saturday afternoon (Aug. 5) at The Meadowlands.

Back in action after winning the Graduate Series final four weeks ago for trainer Ake Svanstedt, Stonebridge Helios headlined a field of seven as the 4-5 favourite in a $40,000 Open Handicap Pace.

Driver Dexter Dunn had the four-year-old son of Sunshine Beach rolling off the gate from post six and tracking recent Gerrity upset winner Idealsomemagic A (George Brennan) on the outside through a :26.1 opening quarter before clearing that rival when he touched down on top as they entered the backstretch. Stonebridge Helios led the way from there, reeling off middle splits of :53.1 and 1:20.2. With rivals starting to make their moves turning for home, Stonebridge Helios was unfazed and opened up a pair of lengths in the stretch to win easily in 1:47.4.  Casual Cool (Brian Sears) rallied late to grab the runner-up honours while Idealsomemagic A edged South Beach Star (David Miller) in a photo for show.

Stonebridge Helios went over the $700,000 earnings mark with his 13th career win for breeder Angie Stiller of Arva, Ont. and co-owner John Fleischman of Ottawa, Ont. 

Picking his third win in five seasonal starts, he returned $3.60 to his backers at the betting windows.

Kilmister was never better than he was on Hambletonian Day, but his connections certainly would have rather entered the sophomore trotting colt in the Hambletonian as opposed to the undercard $50,000 Muscle Hill Stakes

Sent off as the 3-5 choice, Kilmister made the top early for driver Brian Sears, yielded briefly to Little Expensive (Andy Miller) through a :26.4 opener and then looped back to the lead. After middle panels of :54.3 and 1:23.1, Sears kicked out the plugs at the head of the lane and Kilmister turned up the volume on his rivals. He sprinted home in :27.4 to trip the timer in a career best 1:51 up by 3-1/4 lengths on Little Expensive with Herodotus (David Miller) airborne from the back of the pack to complete the triactor.

Kilmister (Chapter Seven - Treviso) picked up his second win of the season and seventh lifetime. The 2022 Peter Haughton Memorial winner, trained by Marcus Melander, now boasts a lifetime bankroll in excess of $580,000 for owner Courant Inc. of Delray Beach, Fl. He returned $3 on a $2 win ticket.

Scott Zeron had 23-1 shot Tactical Mounds perfectly positioned turning for home, and the three-year-old trotting filly delivered for her fractional ownership group in the $33,500 Continentalvictory Stakes.

Situated second from last in the first turn, Tactical Mounds never saw the rail during her Saturday stakes test but had cover for the first three-quarters of the race. Stacked up fourth over at the :27.1 opening quarter, Zeron bided his time with Tactical Mounds as the outer flow continued to advance. By the :55.2 half, Tactical Mounds made it into second over striking position. After the 1:23.2 third station, Zeron flipped the switch and angled Tactical Mounds into the three path. The filly responded willingly and stormed home to hit the wire in a career best 1:52.1. Blonde Bombshell (David Miller) was a length back in second with favoured Quick Stop (Tim Tetrick) finding room late to rally for the show spot.

Owned by Thestable Tactical Mounds of Guelph, Ont., Tactical Mounds (Tactical Landing - Mounds) now sports a summary of 4-3-6 in 19 starts with $82,965 in the bank. Megan Scran trains the filly, who paid $48.40 to win.

In 2021, four-year-old Lovedbythemasses took his lifetime mark of 1:50.2 with his win in the Vincennes Trot on Hambletonian Day. Two years later, and now six, the Ontario Sires Stakes graduate was once again entered in the $60,000 Vincennes Trot and he once again prevailed for his connections on the first Saturday in August. 

Driver Todd McCarthy settled Lovedbythemasses away in fifth early as 3-5 shot Lexus Kody (Yannick Gingras) carved out fractions of :26.4 and :55. McCarthy angled to the outside, flushing Yanaba (Brian Sears) out from fourth, and the mare forged first up through a 1:23.1 third panel. Lovedbythemasses got a tow into the top group and McCarthy angled his charge three-wide around the far turn. Lovedbythemasses loved the racetrack he was shown, and he stretched out his strides to fly by the tempo-setter and hit the wire two lengths the best in 1:50.3 — just a fifth of a second off his lifetime mark and a fifth of a second off the track standard for older trotting geldings. Lexus Kody stayed for second with Hillexotic (David Miller) closing well to complete the top trio.

A son of Muscle Mass - Incredibility, Lovedbythemasses is owned by his trainer Jeff Cullipher along with Pollack Racing LLC of Venetia, Pa. The six-year-old picked up his second win of the season and 26th lifetime, lifting his earnings to $795,590. Sent off at 10-1, he paid $23.60 to win.

Click on the following link for coverage of the 2023 Hambletonian and a replay of the day's stakes events.

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