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Atlanta Seeks Empire State Takeover

Published: May 26, 2018 12:53 pm ET

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A sampling of top Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks prospects will lead the charge to Monday’s $500,000 Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) trotting finals at Vernon Downs as part of the Memorial Day matinee card beginning at 1:05 p.m.

The route to the $238,613 Empire Breeders Classic filly final (race 9) winner's circle appears to go through Atlanta; not the city, but Rick Zeron’s wicked fast Chapter Seven filly. She absolutely cruised to victory in 1:53.1, fastest of three elimination divisions for driver Scott Zeron and appeared to have plenty left. Atlanta will leave from Post 4 as she carries the hopes of Howard Taylor, Holland Racing and Brad Grant who own her in partnership with trainer Rick Zeron.

Ake Svanstedt manages the other two elim winners in Natalie Hanover and Plunge Blue Chip (Svanstedt) who start from the inside most posts respectively on Monday.

Plunge Blue Chip was the state’s top freshman filly trotter last season and also won the Grand Circuit stake Goldsmith Maid final, earning more than $400,000 at two for the trainer and his partners Blue Chip Bloodstock and Tomas Andersson.

Natalie Hanover (Mark MacDonald) took a lifetime mark with her 1:54.1 score last week and seeks her biggest payday for Van Camp Trotting Corp, Anders Olsson, Lars Berg and Bjorn Nasstrom.

The imposing Muscle Mass colt Six Pack (PP2) equaled Market Share’s track record of 1:52.1 in last week’s elimination race and needed every bit of that strong effort to get past Helpisontheway by just a half-length on the wire for the win. He’s won both of his seasonal starts at Vernon and heads into the $223,673 final (race 8) in top form for trainer/driver Svanstedt, who owns the colt in partnership with Jeff Gural’s Little E, LLC, Stall Kalmar and Lars Berg.

Trainer Linda Toscano sends out a pair of leading contenders, both sired by her 2012 Horse of the Year Chapter Seven. The aforementioned Helpisontheway (PP3, Tim Tetrick) did much of the work before succumbing very late to Six Pack. He’s owned by the trainer (as Camelot Stables) and The Bay’s Stable.

Local owner Ken Jacobs will watch his colt Seven Iron (PP4, David Miller) who won the second EBC elimination. He’s a rock-solid trotter who gives an honest effort every time he puts his nose on the gate, was a Grand Circuit winner at The Red Mile and second in the Kindergarten final last season.

The supporting card includes consolations for both EBC finals and a $120,000 New York Sires stake divided into three divisions; it's the first battle of the year for the state-bred three-year-old colt pacers and features a number of colts eligible to the Grand Circuit's most lucrative races.

Vernon and the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative have joined to offer a $3,000 guaranteed pool on a Pick 4 wager on races 6-9 that includes both EBC finals.

(with files from Vernon)


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