A late-closing series for trotters racing under saddle will feature a $25,000 final on Hambletonian Day, Saturday, August 3 at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Monte racing, a hybrid of harness and thoroughbred racing, is a popular pari-mutuel sport in Europe, especially in France where many top trotters and drivers compete in both sulky and saddle races.
The fledgling organization Monte America has announced a series for trotters comprised of two legs worth $10,000 on July 19 and July 26, respectively, and a $25,000 final showcased on harness racing's richest and most prestigious day --- the 88th edition of the Hambletonian, traditionally the first Saturday in August. Racing trotters under saddle enjoyed a resurgence last year in North America under the direction of monte rider Helene Gregory.
“The response from last year’s under saddle racing was overwhelming, so I am delighted that Jeff Gural will host the series at the New Meadowlands and that the Hambletonian Society will handle payments and purses for this event. This will help us grow monte racing in the U.S.," said Gregory, who received a President’s Award from the U.S. Harness Writers for her efforts in staging under saddle racing in 2012.
“Last year a total of 56 riders applied to the USTA for a RUS license, so there is great interest in this new sport. We started with one race on Hambo Day, and by the end of the year we had 13 races in several different states and more than $80,000 in purses,” continued Gregory.
“I hope the series we created this year will make for an exciting final with well-matched trotters and riders. Since there will be no betting on these races, we are looking for sponsors to finance the series.”
A $200 nomination fee is due May 15 for those wishing to compete. Conditions, nomination blanks and more information can be found on the Monte America website) or on the Hambletonian Society website (hambletonian.org).