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Ramona Hill Wins The Hambletonian

Published: August 8, 2020 4:48 pm ET

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Canadian co-owned trotting filly Ramona Hill captured the 2020 Hambletonian on Saturday (August 8) at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, N.J.

Amigo Volo (Dexter Dunn) showed the most early speed from post ten, landing on the lead early and opening up on the field before slowing the tempo down after a :26.2 opening panel. Threefiftytwo (Daniel Dube) forged on for the front and got there.

Driver Andy McCarthy was focused on controlling this week's race after having to close from a nearly impossible spot in last week's elimination. Landing briefly into fourth, McCarthy launched Ramona Hill for the front and cleared Threefiftytwo after a :54.3 half.

“When I came out early there, I sensed I could find the front,” McCarthy said after winning his first Hambletonian. “I went for it, and she knows her job.”

Ready For Moni, who like Ramona Hill won a Hambletonian elimination a week ago, applied pressure first over with Back Of The Neck (Scott Zeron) second over. Ramona Hill hit the third quarter in 1:22.2 and turned for home looking strong. Ready For Moni was full out trying to get to the leader's wheel but that effort was in vain as Ramona Hill held on to win by a length in a stakes record-tying and lifetime best 1:50.1. Back Of The Neck was just back of the leaders in third.

“She was starting to work a little bit towards the wire, but she finished it off,” stated McCarthy after his fifth win of the day. “It was a very good start to the day and I was trying to keep my cool, and I was trying to let it sink in too much because I still had a lot of work to do.

“The adrenaline you get from winning a race like this, words can’t explain it,” the Australian reinsman said. “It’s an amazing event and a privilege to be involved.”

A three-year-old trotting filly by Muscle Hill out of the Lucky Chucky mare Lockdown Lindy, Ramona Hill won for the third time this year in four starts. Her career summary stands at 11-9-0-2 with more than $1.15 million in earnings. She was a $70,000 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale purchase.

In the history of the Hambletonian, only 15 fillies have been able to defeat male counterparts and capture the coveted title. Atlanta was the last filly to do so in 2018.

Ramona Hill (Muscle Hill - Lock Down Lindy) is trained by Tony Alagna for Brad Grant of Milton, Ont., Crawford Farms Racing of Syracuse, N.Y., Robert Leblanc of Austin, Tex. and In The Gym Partners of Staten Island, N.Y.

“People talked earlier about how COVID affected this filly’s schedule,” Alagna said. “Honestly, this was our schedule from the beginning, with or without COVID. She’s very much like a Thoroughbred. She doesn’t need the starts to be at her best.

“We always had it (the Hambletonian) in the back of our minds, but nobody wanted to be the first one to say it,” Alagna said. “After the Del Miller, it became a reality.”

The Hambletonian win is the first for Alagna, but Grant and Crawford Farms (Al & Michelle Crawford) were also part of the ownership that campaigned Atlanta in 2018. The win was all the more special for the Crawfords as the breeder of Ramona Hill.

"It's a little surreal, we haven't quite processed it and I don't think we'll process it for quite some time," said Michelle Crawford after sweeping both the Oaks and the Hambletonian. "To have these two fillies in our lives, and to do the hard get them to this point and then find out that they're good enough to go into these races and be competitive, it's unbelievable. It's a great feeling."

The Hambletonian is one of many stakes contested on the Hambletonian Day card at The Meadowlands. Read about the rest of the action in the Hambletonian Day News Centre.

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