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Ramona Hill Leads Maturity Dozen

Published: July 14, 2021 5:32 pm ET

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A little more than a year ago, Ramona Hill became the fourth female trotter to win the Hambletonian Stakes since it moved to The Meadowlands Racetrack in 1981. On Saturday (July 17), she will return to The Big M to try to add the E.T. Gerry Jr. Hambletonian Maturity to her list of accomplishments.

Since the modern version of the Hambletonian Maturity was created in 2014, only one horse has won both races: Marion Marauder. Ramona Hill will face 11 rivals in Saturday’s edition, leaving from post four with driver Andy McCarthy at the lines for trainer Tony Alagna. The event, for four-year-old trotters, will be contested at 1-1/8 miles.

The Hambletonian Maturity is part of a stakes-filled card that includes the $700,000 Meadowlands Pace for three-year-old pacers. Racing begins at a special time, 6 p.m. (EDT), and the Maturity and Pace will be part of a two-hour broadcast on Fox Sports 2 starting at 8 p.m.

Ramona Hill enters the Hambletonian Maturity with a second-place finish among two races this season. She went off stride in her most recent start, the Joie De Vie Stakes on July 3, which was on a track labeled “good” at The Meadowlands.

“The night she made a break behind the gate, the track was a little sticky and Andy wanted to let her trot out of there a little bit and she just got tangled up,” Alagna said.

Since then, Ramona Hill qualified with hobbles, winning in 1:53.1 at The Meadowlands.

“We decided to qualify her to get a good mile into her,” Alagna said. “She’s always had some issues with her back, so we put the hobbles on her trying to help her out a little bit. She qualified good and she trained good (Wednesday) morning, so hopefully she’s on the right track. I was very happy with how she trained this morning.”

A Dan Patch Award recipient at ages two and three, Ramona Hill has won 12 of 19 races, hit the board an additional four times, and earned $1.33 million. The daughter of Muscle Hill and Lock Down Lindy is owned by Brad Grant, Crawford Farms Racing, Robert LeBlanc and In The Gym Partners. She was bred by Crawford Farms.

Ramona Hill’s Meadowlands magic last season included a win from post 10 in the Del Miller Memorial, which served as a precursor to memorable performances in her Hambletonian elimination, when she rallied from eighth place at three-quarters to win by a half length, and in the Hambletonian final, which she captured in a stakes-record-equaling 1:50.1.

“We hope that she can regain that form because everybody knows when she’s on her game there are not many who can go with her,” Alagna said. “We’re just trying to get her back to that point. Hopefully, she will show that Saturday night.”

The competition Saturday night includes Nancy Takter-trained Ready For Moni, who finished second in the Hambletonian and comes into the Maturity off a 1:50.3 triumph in last week’s Graduate Series Trot final for four-year-olds.

Ready For Moni has won two of four races this season and 11 of 23 lifetime. The win in the Graduate pushed his career earnings over $1 million.

“He’s raced super every start this year,” Takter said after the Graduate final. “He’s been closing really well. It’s tough sometimes for four-year-olds to make the adjustments for their four-year-old year, especially when they’ve had long three-year-old seasons. He seems to be handling it pretty well and I look forward to racing him the rest of the year.”

Takter also sends last year’s Hambletonian Oaks winner, Sorella, into the Hambletonian Maturity. She is one of five mares in the race.

To view the entries for the card, click the following link: Saturday Entries - Meadowlands Racetrack.


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