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|Captain Corey Captures The 2021 Hambletonian
Captain Corey crushed his competition in the 96th Hambletonian on Saturday (August 7) at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, N.J., cutting the mile under intense pressure and prevailing to win in a lifetime best 1:51....read on
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Grace Hill Upsets In Shady Daisy
Grace Hill started off the stakes action on 2021 Hambletonian Day at The Meadowlands with an upset, albeit a mild one, in the $97,550 Shady Daisy for three-year-old pacing fillies.
Driver Andy McCarthy left strongly with Grace Hill from post three, watching Thebeachiscalling (Brian Sears) clear to the lead from the outermost post seven before pressing on to clear before a :26.4 opening quarter. That pace was accelerated as 1/9 favourite Fire Start Hanover (Dexter Dunn) was on McCarthy's helmet and not looking for a pocket.
Fire Start Hanover cleared to the lead by the three-eighths and paced through uncontested panels of :54.3 and 1:22.4 with a two-length lead turing for home. Grace Hill popped that pocket in the stretch and the front two separated from the pack with a sprint to the wire. In the final strides, Grace Hill was able to thrust a nose in front of Fire Start Hanover for the 1:49 decision. Mikala (George Brennan) was best of the rest in third.
"I pushed off the gate a little bit and figured I'd probably end up sitting the two-hole to Fire Start [Hanover]," said McCarthy. "I saw Dex was working on her a little bit, so I thought I had a shot at the head of the stretch."
Grace Hill (Always B Miki - Western Silk) is trained by Richard 'Nifty' Norman for owner Tom Hill of Lancashire, U.K. The filly earned a new career best time with her second win of the year and sixth lifetime victory, lifting her earnings to $330,448.
McCarthy picked up his third straight Shady Daisy stakes win, after winning in 2019 with Tall Drink Hanover and last year with Reflect With Me.
Jujubee Makes Statement In Muscle Hill
Dancinginthedark M looked to be a lock in the $50,000 Muscle Hill Trot after not qualifying for the main event on the Hambletonian Day card in his Hambletonian elim one week ago. Jujubee shocked the crowd with a track record performance to upset the favourite.
Tony Hall had Jujubee strongly off the gate, looking for a pocket ride behind the favoured Dancinginthedark M (Tim Tetrick) after a :27.1 opening quarter. Dancinginthedark M maintained his lead through an honest middle half with fractions of :55.2 and 1:23.1. Turning for home, Dancinginthedark M looked to edge away but Hall took his shot with the 7/2 Jujubee and started to gain on the tempo-setter. In deep stretch, Dancinginthedark M broke stride as Jujubee got to the leader and that left Jujubee all alone at the wire in a track record 1:49.4. Dancinginthedark M was left up in second with Ethan T Hanover (Dexter Dunn) completing the triactor.
A star in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes before his breakout performance on Hambletonian Day, Jujubee (Creatine - La Cantera) picked up his 10th win in 13 starts this season for trainer Greg Wright Jr. and owner Jon Erdner of Lakewood Ranch, Fl. The win time was a new lifetime mark, dropping his previous best by more than three seconds in his first start over the one-mile oval and eclipsed the 1:50 track standard set by Six Pack in 2018. Jujubee's earnings are now $173,607 with his lifetime summary an impressive 12-4-1 from 18 career starts.
Smooth Sailing For Rockyroad Hanover In Cane
The runner-up in the Adios Final one week ago, Rockyroad Hanover picked up his first major victory with a strong performance to capture the $276,150 Cane Pace for three-year-old male pacers, the second leg of harness racing's pacing Triple Crown, during the Hambletonian Day card on Saturday (Aug. 7) at The Meadowlands.
Settled away early in fourth by driver Dexter Dunn, Rockyroad Hanover allowed American Courage (Matt Kakaley) and favoured Perfect Sting (David Miller) to take turns on the lead through a :26.2 opening quarter and :53.4 half before forging first-up approaching the third station. Perfect Sting opened up on the pocket-sitting American Courage around the final turn as the third quarter was reached in 1:21.3, with Rockyroad Hanover continuing to advance on the outside.
Straightening out turning for home, Perfect Sting and Rockyroad Hanover locked horns with the pacesetter not giving in to the challenger easily. In the finial sixteenth, Rockyroad Hanover started to edge past Perfect Sting and hit the wire a length the best in a lifetime best 1:48.1. Summa Cum Laude (Brian Sears) finished third some five lengths back of the front pair.
"He's been racing great, he's had a couple of trips there that were pretty unlucky, but he's been in good form all year," said Dunn. "He got away fourth, moved first over and he really tugged me to three-quarters, which is a good feeling. And he kicked home good. Perfect Sting's a hard horse to get past sometimes, so I knew it was going to be a bit of a battle but he was good today."
Tony Alagna trains Rockyroad Hanover (Captaintreacherous - Romantic Moment) for Riverview Racing LLC of Florida, Brad Grant of Milton, Ont., Kenneth Jacobs of Plouffe Head And VJ Stable of Boynton Beach, Fl. — the Plouffe in that stable being Daniel Plouffe of Quebec. The colt's fifth win lifetime and fourth on the season nearly doubled his lifetime earnings to $294,626.
Lyons Sentinel Stands Strong In Lady Liberty
The hottest distaffer in harness racing this summer has been Lyons Sentinel, and she came up big yet again in Saturday afternoon’s assignment in the $191,050 Lady Liberty.
Tim Tetrick got away fourth with the Jim King, Jr. trainee while Rocknificent (:26) and Gias Surreal (:53.2 and 1:21.3) took turns on the lead for the first three-quarters of the rich contest. Tetrick tipped out of fourth past the mid-way point and eventually wore down Gias Surreal in the lane. Sent off as the 2-5 choice, Lyons Sentinel won comfortably over Rocknificent and Peaky Sneaky in a sharp clocking of 1:48.1.
Lyons Sentinel a four-year-old daughter of Captaintreacherous-Tutu Hanover, improved her 2021 record to 4-1-2 from 10 trips to the track with the victory. The 16-time winner, who is owned by Threelyonsracing of Brantford, ON, pushed her lifetime earnings to $1,628,587 with the win.
Venerable Remains Perfect In Doherty
The three-week layoff was no issue for trotting filly Venerable, who extended her career unbeaten streak to four with a stakes record performance in the $326,850 Jim Doherty Memorial Final on Saturday (Aug. 7) on the Hambletonian undercard at The Meadowlands.
The rookie trotters looked like seasoned veterans with three fillies barreling into the first turn vying for command. Mon Cheval (Dexter Dunn) emerged on top of that early tussle, clearing Valentina Blu (Andy McCarthy) then hitting the opening station in :27. Venerable was floated away off the gate, sitting second over behind Joviality S (Brian Sears). Joviality brushed to the front down the backside, landing on top through a :55 half, and then yielded to the favoured venerable.
Venerable had no time to slow the tempo down as Jiggy Jog S (Yannick Gingras) pressured immediately and kept Venerable honest through a 1:23.4 third quarter. As the field turned for home, Venerable was asked for another gear by David Miller and she responded willingly by trotting home in :28.1 to trip the timer in a stakes record and lifetime best 1:52. Brickhouse Babe (Mark MacDonald) closed well for second some three lengths back with Delilah Hanover (Todd McCarthy) rounding out the top trio.
"I think I was doing more work than her!" said trainer Richard 'Nifty' Norman after the win. "I was very nervous at the three-quarters but Dave said he kicked the plugs and she foudn another gear. very, very impressive. She just keeps getting better, it seems like."
Norman trains Venerable (Walner - Jolene Jolene) for owners David Mc Duffee of Florida, Mel Hartman of Ottawa, Ont., Paul Bordogna of New Jersey and Steven Arnold of New York. With four wins in four starts, the $210,000 yearling purchase now sports $288,425 in earnings.
The win, a fifth in the Doherty / Merrie Annabelle for driver David Miller, erased the former stakes record of 1:52.2 held by the great Mission Brief.
Lovedbythemasses Loaded With Trot In Vincennes
With plenty of speed in front of him, Lovedbythemasses played it cool for driver Tim Tetrick and then exploded home for driver Tim Tetrick to match his career-best clocking of 1:50.2 in the Vincennes Preferred.
Its Academic and Angel Nation battled to the quarter pole in :26 before Its Academic brushed to the top. Once he cleared, he found himself on the hook for middle fractions of :54.4 and 1:23.2. The leader was pressed to the three-quarter pole by the first-over Lovedbythemasses, and that attacker went on to use a closing panel of :27 to deliver the deep stretch knockout punch. Lovedbythemasses drew clear to win by 3-1/4 lengths over Chaptiama. Its Academic held on to finish third.
Trainer Jeff Cullipher co-owns the four-year-old son of Muscle Mass-Incredibility with Pollack Racing LLC of Venetia, PA. The graduate of the Ontario Sires Stakes program, who was sent off at odds of 6-1, now boasts a 6-0-4 record from 20 trips to the track this season. The 16-time winner pushed his lifetime earnings over $300,000 with the win.
King Of The North Reigns In Haughton
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.
Start The Fire Charging Hard In McKee Memorial
A snap move by driver Scott Zeron early in the mile proved to be the difference maker for Start The Fire, who posted a mild upset over heavily favoured Nicholas Beach in the first $157,100 division of the Sam McKee Memorial.
Zeron got away second behind Backstreet Shadow in the early stages of the mile, but he quickly decided to hustle his charge past the leader just as the field made its way to the quarter pole. The first panel flashed up in :26 compliments of Backstreet Shadow and the parked out Start The Fire. Start The Fire then cleared, and came under immediate pressure from Nicholas Beach.
The favourite then sped through middle fractions of :53.2 and 1:20.3 before coming under siege from the pocket-popping Start The Fire. The two pacers staged a bare-knuckle brawl down the lane with Start The Fire gaining the upper hand in the closing strides. He edged out Nicholas Beach and posted the win in 1:47.2. Third prize was earned by Backstreet Shadow.
Todd Luther trains the four-year-old son of Captaintreacherous-Dream Outloud for Black Magic Racing LLC of Blacklick, OH. The pacer, who also covered 87 mares in the breeding shed this year, has manufactured a 6-1-1 record from nine trips postward this season. His 14 lifetime victories have helped him stash away earnings in excess of $620,000.
Manchego Holds On In Cashman
It almost seems cliche that Manchego has etched her name in harness racing history, but she did it again on Hambletonian Day with a gutsy performance to capture the $269,750 John Cashman Memorial TVG Open Trot.
Gangster Hanover (Scott Zeron) and Reign Of Honor (Yannick Gingras) were quickest of the gate in the field of 11 older trotters, with Beads (David Miller) making his presence felt in short order. Beads cleared Gangster Hanover after a :26.4 opening quarter, and then yielded to 3/5 choice Manchego and Dexter Dunn asking her to make the front.
Manchego landed on the lead at about the 7/16ths mark, hitting the half-mile marker in a solid :54.3. Stablemate Ready For Moni (Tim Tetrick) applied first over pressure through the third quarter, reached in 1:23 and that front pair trotted in tandem turning for home. Manchego repelled that rival while Lindy The Great (Andy Miller) tipped off the cover to launch a stretch bid. Room opened up the rail for Beads to slip through and he responded to seemingly best Manchego in the final strides but the magnificent mare battled back and got her whisker on the wire first to win in 1:50.3. Lindy The Great was a length back in third.
"That was a great performance today," said owner Barry Guariglia of Black Horse Racing. "I thought it was maybe a dead heat but a win by a whisker? I'll take it."
Driver Dunn actually thought Beads was the winner and headed back to the paddock. "I thought David nailed me right on the line so I was glad when her number popped up.
"I was a little worried at the three quarters as she didn't give me the kick she normally does but her greatness shone through fighting down the stretch like she did."
Only one other trotting mare has won the Cashman or the Nat Ray, and that was the great Moni Maker. Manchego, trained by Nancy Takter, now sports 39 wins in 63 career appearances and is 6-0-1 in seven seasonal starts. The win lifts her bankroll to $3,285,161.
Atlanta Awesome In Steele Memorial
Success on the first Saturday in August isn't foreign to Atlanta, as the 2018 Hambletonian winner found the winner's circle on 2021 Hambletonian Day with a stellar effort in the Dr. John R. Steele Memorial Trot.
A strong field of seven trotting mares was assembled for the 2021 Steele Memorial, but Atlanta was not impressed by her competition. Driver Yannick Gingras dropped into fourth as When Dovescry (David Miller) sprinted past Hypnotic Am (Brian Sears) to hit that opening quarter in :27. No movement allowed Miller to slow the tempo for a :56.2 half as Atlanta started her first-over grind. Gingras ratcheted up the pressure through that third quarter and forged to the front around that final turn. Straightening out at the head of the lane, Atlanta opened up her lead with every stride and the talented trotter pulled away confidently to win by four in 1:50.4. Felicityshagwell S (Ake Svanstedt) found a seam to close for second ahead of Next Level Stuff (Tim Tetrick).
"She's been super really all year, except for last week," noted Gingras in the winner's circle." Two starts back she got beat but that was more trip-wise because I got away so far back. Last week, in the post parade I knew she was no good. She wouldn't grab onto the bit for me and she just wasn't quite sharp. They found some things wrong after the race and good job on the Burke Brigade to turn her around in a week."
Ron Burke trains Atlanta (Chapter Seven - Hemi Blue Chip) for Ontario's Brad Grant, Crawford Farms Racing, of New York and Howard Taylor of Pennsylvania. The six-year-old sports a summary of 3-1-0 in five seasonal starts and the win lifts her over the $3 million mark in lifetime earnings.
Bella Bellini Blossoms Into Oaks Champion
Favourite Bella Bellini stormed home off stalled cover to deliver a winning performance in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for three-year-old trotting fillies during Saturday’s Hambletonian Day card at The Meadowlands.
Driver Dexter Dunn was aboard David Mc Duffee's homebred Bar Hopping-Bella Dolce filly, who has blossomed into a Grand Circuit stakes champion after a winless freshman campaign under the care of trainer Richard 'Nifty' Norman.
After "staying out of trouble and out of the early speed" getting away sixth, Dunn followed the cover of elimination winner Lady Chaos (David Miller) down the backside before launching Bella Bellini three-wide and hauling down the leading Iteration (Brian Sears) in the stretch for a two-length victory in 1:52.1. Iteration stayed for second while Contested Hanover (Tim Tetrick) closed for third ahead of Darlene Hanover (Todd McCarthy).
Sent postward as the 3-5 favourite after missing by just a head to Lady Chaos in the eliminations, Bella Bellini paid $3 to win.
Captain Corey Captures The 2021 Hambletonian
Captain Corey crushed his competition in the 96th Hambletonian on Saturday (August 7) at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, N.J., cutting the mile under intense pressure to win in a lifetime best 1:51.
Trainer Ake Svanstedt engineered the victory, guiding the son of Googoo Gaagaa - Luv U All to the win in the million-dollar event, the second leg of trotting's Triple Crown, over hard-closing longshots Spy Booth (Tim Tetrick) and Ambassador Hanover (Scott Zeron) and Delayed Hanover (Yannick Gingras). Svanstedt entered three horses in the 2021 Hambletonian and his horses captured three of the top four spots.
Leaving from post four in the field of 10 sophomore trotters, Captain Corey was hustled away for command by trainer-driver Svanstedt, clearing to the top over stablemate and fellow elimination winner Delayed Hanover (Yannick Gingras) while being pressured by Cuatro De Julio (Lucas Wallin) through a :26 opening quarter. Gingras guarded the pocket position, forcing Wallin for forge on. The half was reached in a sharp :54, with the advantage at that point looking to fall into the lap of second over Sonofamistery (Brian Sears).
As the field reached the three-quarter mark in 1:22.3, Captain Corey was still strongly maintaining his lead but that first over grind took its toll on Cuatro De Julio. Turning for home, Captain Corey opened up a two-length lead on his rivals with Svanstedt keeping him to task. Delayed Hanover took his shot from the pocket, allowing Spy Booth to angle to the inside while Ambassador Hanover set sail from the back of the pack. Captain Corey would not be denied, winning by more than a length over pylon-skimming Spy Booth with Ambassador Hanover and Delayed Hanover just back of second.
"He was strong today," said a cheerful Svanstedt after the Hambletonian win. "He had good heart and fight, but he was strong also...I was worried that they were going to come from behind, but he fought good."
A $150,000 yearling purchase, Captain Corey is owned by SRF Stable of Lighthouse Point, Florida, Knutsson Trotting Inc. of Del Ray Beach, Florida, Midnight Sun Partners Inc. of Delray Beach, Florida and Ake Svanstedt Inc. of Wrightstown, N.J. The win is Svanstedt's second in the race many consider the holy grail of harness racing, first winning in 2017 with second-placed-first Perfect Spirit.
"It was a very very special moment," said Midnight Sun's Robert Lindstrom, the man who selected the horse for the connections as a yearling in 2019. "I’m so happy for all of us, all the connections around the horse. The Svanstedt team has done a marvelous job and we have friends in parts of Sweden watching the TV now that couldn’t come I just want to greet them."
Bred by Carter Duer of Kentucky, Captain Corey has now won eight of his 12 races to date and has amassed $915,333 in career earnings.
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