Hambletonian #92 Gathers 19; Ariana G Leads Into Hambletonian Oaks
The Hambletonian Day program is set at the Meadowlands for Saturday, Aug. 5, headlined by the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks and the $1-million Hambletonian. After months battling down the Hambletonian Trail, one filly and one colt will have conquered their competitors when they are crowned the “Oaks” and Hambletonian champion respectively.
Below is a horse-by-horse analysis for the two eliminations of the Hambletonian and the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks.
Race 8 – Hambletonian No. 92 Elimination One -- $100,000
Southwind Woody gets an improved draw after starting from post 10 in the $49,580 Reynolds Memorial. He’s usually chasing the better ones and will be a long shot to make the final.
Bill’s Man was strong finishing third as the favorite in the “Reynolds,” parked the mile and still coming home quickly. With a stalking trip, he’s very likely to make the final and could also offer decent value to win.
His last effort on the “Trail” being his ninth-place finish in the Goodtimes Trot, Guardian Angel As has since raced on the New York Sires Stakes circuit and won a conditioned trot at Yonkers by 12 lengths as the odds-on favorite. He could be value in the exotics if he’s dismissed off a break at Monticello but he draws well enough to likely be in a good spot where he only has to maintain his composure and hold on for minor spots.
Off a pocket-pop victory, Giveitgasandgo appears to be a fairly one-dimensional horse. His role in this race could very well be to put Bill’s Man into the mix, as otherwise he’ll likely be a pacesetter and not a strong one.
International Moni is entering the Hambletonian with a lot of buzz, strolling in a three-year-old Open back on July 22, which was his first start since winning the Goodtimes. He’ll most likely get the trip he needs but will also take heavy play, making him the horse to beat.
Stealth Hanover came out of nowhere to enter the Hambletonian. Interesting that the connections decided to put up the money to enter him considering his most recent mile at Philadelphia is not close to this caliber of racing but that’s why he’ll be high odds.
Victor Gio It avoided most of the conventional Trail stakes to instead race with older trotters. A bit scattered with his gait, he’s coming off a good mile where he chased Oho Diamond in a track-record mile to finish second. His gait, especially on Hambletonian Day, remains a concern. Demand a higher than usual price.
Long Tom for awhile has appeared to be Hambletonian material. He has speed, he’s mature, he may even go off the second choice here, especially starting from post 8. He is one of the better contenders in this race and could just have to leave and then he’ll be ready to strike.
Luc Blais’ barn is incredibly hot coming into Hambletonian Day and from that barn comes Jake, who finished second in a three-year-old event last week after cutting the mile, which is not his preferred racing style. From an outside post he could also be a decent price and be put into a spot where he’s carried into contention i.e. off the pace.
Contenders: Long Tom, International Moni, Bill’s Man, Jake
Race 9 – Hambletonian No. 92 Elimination Two -- $100,000
What The Hill has never appeared to be a real standout in this division but he certainly can compete with the top bunch. Considering his draw as well, he’ll likely take a lot of play but is certainly beatable.
Seven And Seven is coming into this race under the radar and likely sharp. Conditioned by Thomas Durand, who sent Whiskey Tax to finish second at a price to Broad Bahn in the 2011 Hambletonian, his month off from racing is definitely a concern but with a decent qualifier under his belt he seems like a worthy value contender.
Displaying gait troubles in his last few starts, Sortie is an incredibly risky venture. In the Jersey heat in front of the crowd he could end up overheating and blow up as soon as the race goes. The team will likely tinker with him equipment wise but know that taking him as an investment does not have a likely return.
Shake It Off Lindy is yet to have a smooth mile. Being caught behind dull horses against Jake and Giveitgasandgo last week he wasn’t able to get in gear until the stretch drive when he was just the best of the rest to finish third. He seems like the type of trotter that just needs a set up to shine and he may be a big enough price to make him worth the risk even in the exotics.
After a lackluster performance in the Tompkins Memorial, Dover Dan bounced back with an improved effort in the Reynolds, closing ground from post 9 to finish fourth. He seems more apt to race from farther off the pace but may end up being too far back so that he can barely manage to hit the board. He will likely get play, especially if Brian Sears opts to drive him instead of Seven And Seven
Enterprise is the pace of this race and he has proven time and time again that he is not a strong enough pacesetter to sustain the lead to the line. He can definitely hold on for minor positions but he has come up short in both the Goodtimes Final and in his most recent mile at the Meadowlands, finishing second to International Moni. He will likely be overplayed and is vulnerable.
Southwind Cobra is a longshot that would best be used in exotics if used at all. Like his stablemate Southwind Woody, he’s usually just chasing the top ones and may get a check here and there. There are better ones entered here.
Another one entering the Hambletonian from an estranged route, Achille Duharas could be better than his lines show. Most likely not but stranger things have happened. He could end up being overplayed because of the connections but his last few miles are not spectacular, which leads us to look elsewhere.
From this post, Devious Man could end up being a better price than we could nab from an inside draw. Debatably the best horse in the field, he has the ability to assert himself into the mix and, if positioned behind the pace that will likely collapse, should have an easy time striking. Anything above even-money can be considered value, really.
If he drew better, Perfect Spirit would be more of a factor. However, with his best races coming from perfect setups, he will likely be too disadvantaged from an outside post.
Contenders: Devious Man, What The Hill, Seven And Seven, Shake It Off Lindy
Race 12 – Hambletonian Oaks No. 92 -- $500,000
Southwind Avanti is entering the Oaks in her best form. Kicking home to finish third in her elimination, she appears as if she’ll be peaking with this event. If sent off a decent price with Ariana G most likely being 1-9, too, she may be worth a win bet in the hopes chaos can rule, or at least worth using in exotics.
Another starter Hambletonian Day for trainer Luc Blais, Dream Together is a buzz horse. Showing a strong late kick, she still is yet to demonstrate that she is either on par or better than Ariana G and will likely be overplayed. Nothing about the potential setup of the Oaks really shows that the pace would favor Dream Together more than Ariana G.
Caviart Wonder has struggled to hit her best strides since regressing in her last few starts. Managing to make the final, she at the very least could round out a decent superfecta but is otherwise unlikely to be a major factor.
Ariana G is the best but we didn’t have to say that. This entire race revolves around her, both in setup and in the betting. There will be great value to bet against her but bear in mind the strength of favorite she is, but it’s Hambletonian Day and really anything can happen.
Most likely going off the second choice, Magic Presto has not yet shown herself to be comparable to Bee A Magician, as the connections see parts of her within Magic Presto. She’ll probably be overplayed because she won her elimination but she’d be worth a try if she’s in the double digit market somehow.
Fine Tuned Lady is pretty much one-dimensional. She either races unchallenged on the lead or she is challenged and drops out or she doesn’t even go to the lead altogether. She was flat in her elimination and doesn’t appear to offer much form against the best.
Feed Your Head is entering the Oaks at her best form. She was going to pass Magic Presto in the elimination if not for slight interference in the stretch that cost her some ground. She could be sent away a high price given the commotion around her stable mate and is very much a factor in this race.
Sunshine Delight has always managed to be involved when the money is on the line. Though she could only chase Ariana G in her elimination, she placed herself into the race at a large price that helped to inflate the exotic payoffs. This will most likely be her role here as well.
From an outside post, Overdraft Volo is not really worth considering. She has shown herself to be flat on most occasions against this group. She could somehow weave her way into the exotics and will be a high enough price to consider that but there are better ones to take.
If she is driven aggressively, Dream Baby Dream should be a factor here. She has to place herself into the mix in order for her kick to come into use. From post 10, too, and with the unknown connections, she could be one of the better prices for the exotics.
Contenders: Ariana G, Southwind Avanti, Feed Your Head, Dream Baby Dream