Caught behind stalled cover early, favoured King Of the North maintained his spot on the throne with a thrilling stretch rally to capture the $293,450 Peter Haughton Memorial for two-year-old male trotters on the 2021 Hambletonian Day undercard at The Meadowlands.
Driver Mark MacDonald was unhurried off the gate, landing near the back of the pack early as Global Pandemic (Joe Bongiorno) and Temporal Hanover (David Miller) forced an opening panel of :26.3. Elimination winner Robertsin (George Brennan) looped to the lead from third as the tempo slowed, reaching the half in :56 with King Of The North third over and caught behind stalled cover.
Letsdoit S (Brian Sears) advanced overland against Robertsin through a 1:25.2 third station, with Fast As the Wind (Dexter Dunn) second over ahead of King Of The North. As the trotters hit the homestretch, King Of The North was fanned out into the five path by MacDonald. When shown that daylight, King Of The North came charging hard down the centre of the racetrack. That vicious brush in the 27-second range propelled him past his rivals and was enough to hold off the late inside rally of Classic Hill (Scott Zeron) to win by a half-length in 1:53.4. Fast As The Wind finished a solid third.
"He overcame [the trip]," said driver MacDonald. "He was maybe a little too far back than I would have liked. I should have maybe used him a little bit more early but when the gate opened everybody was kind of going hard so I just retreated. But I got a cheap middle half, and he's such a good little horse he just ran them down."
A regally-bred son of Walner - Check me Out, King Of The North is now perfect in five career starts for trainer Ray Schnittker. He co-owns the colt as part of Schnittker Ward stable with Arden Homestead Stable, Nolamaura Racing LLC and Steven Arnold all of New York. Purchased for $190,000, King Of The North's bankroll now sits at $281,725.
The Peter Haughton Memorial is part of a stakes-packed card of harness racing on Hambletonian Day. Be sure to check out the 2021 Hambletonian Day News Centre for recaps and replays of all the action.