Road to the Hambletonian 2012
(issued July 16)
The $1.5 million Hambletonian is Saturday, August 4, and eliminations are only a week from July 21. The top contenders have been rated by their performances on the stakes trail as harness racing’s greatest day approaches. The Winterbook Top 10 grew to a list of about 30 prospects. A few new faces have emerged, some have been stayed away from the Big M spotlight with a lot to prove, and time is running out on those who have started late. For the most part, the upper echelon has stayed the same, and those in the Top 10 have continued to win and impress. The Stanley Dancer Memorial is in, it was a Jimmy Takter sweep, and we were able to get a better read on the colts in the last major prep. However, while the result of the Del Miller Memorial made us look good, several key questions remain.
1-Check Me Out – Fresh from her easy win in the Hudson Filly Trot, last year’s Dan Patch Award winning filly unleashed a devastating 1:51.3 world record romp in the Del Miller Memorial. The outstanding daughter of Donato Hanover made it five in a row and is now 18 for 21. She set a Mohawk track record of 1:52.1 in the Elegantimage. Tim Tetrick acknowledged she’s never been better and has earned the right to face the colts. Ray Schnittker seemed to be leaning towards the Hambletonian, but needed more time to decide.
2-Uncle Peter – Followed up a career best of 1:52.3 in the PA All-Stars at Pocono Downs with a well controlled 1:53.1 score in a Stanley Dancer Memorial division with Ron Pierce back in the bike as a the 2-5 favorite. Pierce described the perfect prep as “a piece of cake” for the son of Cantab Hall. The Breeders Crown upsetter at two leads a powerful Jimmy Takter battalion, which includes Little Brown Fox, Guccio and Weingartner.
3-Little Brown Fox – Despite a three-week layoff, the Muscles Yankee colt pulled a 23-1 Stanley Dancer Memorial division shocker in a sharp 1:51.2 with Yannick Gingras. Gingras said, “Around the last turn he was all on his own. He was very impressive.” The Muscles Yankee colt beat his Jimmy Takter stablemate Guccio. He also won the NJSS Final in 1:53.3.
4-Stormin Normand – Won a division of PASS at Pocono by a nose in 1:52.4 with Matt Kakaley driving on July 14. The son of Broadway Hall finished a solid second in the Yonkers Trot after a second (timed in 1:51) to Googoo Gaagaa in the world record (1:50.4) Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial. He also won his Beal elimination in 1:51.4. The stablemate to Dan Patch Award winner Possess the Will (trainer Jim Campbell) won the PASS Championship at two in 1:54.3 at Pocono Downs. He would have to come off Lasix, which is not permitted in the Hambletonian.
5-Magic Tonight – Finished second (timed in 1:53.4), beaten a half length by My MVP, in PASS at Pocono Downs on July 14 after missing three weeks. Michael Vanderkemp was in the bike. Bounced back after fading to seventh from the rail in the Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial. He shattered The Meadows track record with a 1:52.4 score in PASS and gives Noel Daley a serious shot at a Hambletonion repeat.
6-Possess The Will – He was tightened further in his second start back with a first over bid and finished third in the faster (1:51.2) Dancer division with Tim Tetrick driving. The 2011 Dan Patch Award winner was second in a Reynolds division in his 2012 debut. Sickness had delayed his comeback and trainer Jim Campbell looks for him to be fresh and sharp going into the Hambletonian. He was the top earner among last year’s freshmen trotters. Like his stablemate Stormin Normand, he has also added Lasix this season, which is not allowed in the Hambletonian.
7-Beer Summit – After missing 28 days, he set most of the pace and tired to fourth in PASS at Pocono Downs on July 14 with Michael Vanderkemp driving. The stablemate to Magic Tonight posted a perfect trip upset ($19.20) in the Goodtimes Final with Ron Pierce in the bike for trainer Noel Daley, equaling the Mohawk track record of 1:52.2.
8-Archangel – Did not race last week after going wire-to-wire in the Yonkers Trot in 1:54.1 when the heavy favorite Googoo Gaagaa broke stride twice. This Credit Winner colt has won six in a row after a second in his sophomore debut. He won a division of NYSS at Buffalo Raceway in 1:57.3 with a flat tire. Broke his own Vernon Downs track record winning the Empire Breeders Classic in 1:53.1 at Vernon Downs for trainer Peter Arrigenna, and won his elimination in 1:53.4.
9-Guccio – Rallied for second (timed in 1:52) behind stablemate Little Brown Fox in the fastest (1:51.2) Dancer division with Jimmy Takter in the bike. Takter revealed the son of Yankee Glide was still having trouble getting a hold of the track. The colt rebounded from a break as the heavy favorite in an overnight at the Big M. He also finished second to Little Brown Fox in the NJSS Final and romped in a division in 1:55.1.
10-Market Share – Had last week off after finishing third in the Yonkers Trot. The son of Revenue S was a fast-closing fifth as the beaten favorite in the Goodtimes Final. He had traffic issues at Mohawk and was beaten only a length (timed in 1:52.3), and won his elimination in 1:53.2. The stablemate to world champion four-year-old Chapter Seven was also the beaten favorite (third) in the NJSS Final, and won a NJSS division by nine lengths in 1:53.1 for trainer Linda Toscano.
Banker Volo – Unraced at two, the son of Yankee Glide came bursting on the scene winning his first four starts, including an impressive 1:52.3 blowout at Pocono Downs. The Erv Miller (Manofmanymissions) trainee was a locked-in second behind Uncle Peter in his Dancer division with Jim Morrill, Jr.
My MVP – Won his division of PASS at Pocono Downs in a career best 1:53.4 on July 14 with Mike Lachance. Followed up a second to Uncle Peter in the PA Allstars. The son of Cantab Hall, trained by Tony Alagna, also won a division of PASS at The Meadows in 1:55.1 over Beer Summit & Solvato.
Riccolo – Illinois bred by Northern Kid was sold to Norwegian interests and is now with Trond Smedshammer. He has gone eight-for-eight at Balmoral Park this season for previous trainer Nelson Willis. His latest was a lifetime best of 1:54.2 in the $34,700 Hanover Stake. Swedish driving ace Olle Goop has been asked to drive him if he makes the Hambletonian.
Solvato – Finished a hard-charging third, beaten a neck in PASS at Pocono Downs after a third to Uncle Peter in the PA All-Stars. Owns a win in a PASS division in 1:53.2 at Harrah’s Philadelphia for Trond Smedshammer, who said he’s fast enough, still fresh and a trip horse just like Windsong’s Legacy.
Delano – Won his third straight NYSS and fourth this season, scoring a half-length decision in 1:55 at Vernon Downs for Ray Schnittker. The son of Credit Winner went wire-to-wire in a NYSS division at Yonkers in 1:56.4 on July 3. He also won a NYSS division in a Buffalo Raceway track record of 1:56.3 on June 17. The son of Credit Winner started 2012 going wire-to-wire in NYSS in 1:54.4 at Tioga Downs.
Weingartner – Last year’s Peter Haughton Memorial upsetter has returned from a P-1 fracture and won a qualifier on July 12 in 1:55 for Jimmy Takter, who said he’s coming back better than expected.
Lightning Storm – Finished second (1:52.4) by a nose to Stormin Normand in PASS at Pocono Downs on July 14 with John Campbell. The son of Donato Hanover was coming off a third to Money On My Mind in the Reynolds Stakes at the Big M. Kicked off 2012 with back-to-back wins of 1:53.3 and 1:53.4 at the Big M. The Peter Haughton elimination winner at two is trained by Jonas Czernyson, who has sent out six Hambletonian finalists in the last four editions.
Money On My Mind – Beaten seven lengths, finished fourth (timed in 1:52.4) in the fastest Dancer division following a well rated wire-to-wire win in the Reynolds Stakes in 1:53.3 for Andy and Julie Miller. The son of Cantab Hall was a distant second in Magic Tonight’s 1:52.4 track record in PASS at The Meadows back on May 30.
From Above – Finished fourth behind Uncle Peter in a Dancer division, bouncing back from a break in an overnight. The Donato Hanover colt was no factor as the beaten favorite in his sophomore debut on June 22. His qualifiers have been encouraging and trainer Greg Peck (Muscle Hill) expects big things from this son of Donato Hanover, who won back-to-back Grand Circuit stakes at The Red Mile at two.
Vic Smith – Made breaks and finished seventh in the first Dancer division after a second in a qualifier (timed in 1:54.3) behind Invitational trotter Hot Shot Blue Chip. The freshman NJSS champion broke and finished ninth in the NJSS Final on June 2. The son of Yankee Glide won his 2012 NJSS debut in 1:55.3, then lost by a nose to Little Brown Fox in 1:54.1 for Andy and Julie Miller.
Coraggioso – Finished second as the beaten favorite in NYSS at Vernon Downs on July 11. Went all the way from post seven in a NYSS division at Yonkers on July 3 in 1:56. Cruised to a lifetime best of 1:54.3 in the Historic at Tioga Downs. The son of Conway Hall, co-owned by legendary announcer Tom Durkin, finished second in the Empire Breeders Classic for trainer/driver Phil Fluet, and won a NYSS division at Tioga Downs in 1:55.4.
One In A Million – Made a break in the second Dancer division after dominated an overnight in a career best of 1:53.3 with Brian Sears in the bike. Won his 2012 debut with a mighty sweep from post 10 in 1:55.2 on June 15 for Chuck Sylvester, who has four Hambletonians.
Appomattox – Grinded first over and finished a solid third behind Uncle Peter in a Dancer division with Tim Tetrick driving. Finished second to Coraggioso in the Historic at Tioga Downs on June 17. He rallied from post nine to win his 2012 debut in 1:56.1 on June 1 at the Big M for trainer Frank Antonacci.
Prestidigitator – Won his Canadian Breeders Championship elimination in 1:54.3 at Mohawk on July 13. Romped in an OSS Gold Final in 1:54 at Georgian Downs on July 7 with Sylvain Fillion driving after grinding out an elimination in 1:55.2. Capped his freshman season winning the OSS Super Final for trainer Dustin Jones.
Top Billing – Posted a gutsy first over win by a nose in PASS at Pocono Downs in 1:53.4 on July 14 with Tyler Buter driving. The son of Andover Hall was the Spring Survivor winner at the Big M for Andy & Julie Miller, who also have Money On My Mind and Vic Smith.
Gym Tan Laundry – Finished a well beaten seventh behind Little Brown Fox in a Dancer division and remains winless in seven starts this season. He had missed 28 days after setting a strong pace from post nine and finished a surprising solid third in the Goodtimes Final at 99-1, beaten only half a length for trainer Noel Daley.
Knows Nothing – Hasn’t raced since finishing a strong fourth in the Goodtimes Final. He Had gone undefeated in five starts, winning his Goodtimes elimination in 1:53.4 for Jody Jamieson & Jeff Gillis. Unraced at two, his sire Kadabra will enter the Canadian Hall of Fame in August.
Flyhawk Jester – Scratched sick out of a NYSS division at Vernon Downs on July 11. Switched to trainer Tracy Brainard and finished a well beaten fourth in a NYSS division at Yonkers on July 3. Fifth in the Empire Breeders Classic after setting the pace and second in his elimination as the beaten favorite. Previously, the son of RC Royalty had a second to Archangel in NYSS at Tioga Downs.
Big Chocolate – Broke for the third time in his last four starts, faltering in a Dancer division. He had regained his winning edge in an overnight at Vernon Downs on July 4 in 1:55.2 for Homer Hochstetler. The son of Chocolatier won a division of NJSS in 1:54.3.
Royal Shyster – Set the pace and faded to fifth in NYSS at Vernon Downs on July 11. Finished third to Delano in a NYSS division on July 3 at Yonkers. NYSS champion at two switched to trainer Noel Daley this season, and was second to Googoo Gaagaa in the Simpson at the Big M.
American Gangster – Missed two weeks and faded to fifth in the stallion series at Pocono Downs on July 14 with Matt Kakaley. The son of Andover Hall made breaks in his first two starts of the year. As a freshman, he set a Mohawk track record of 1:54.4 in his William Wellwood elimination for trainer Chris Oakes.
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