Hambletonian Program Swarming With Stakes And Sport’s Top Stars At The Meadowlands

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

August 3rd, 2017

It’s Hambletonian weekend so this week’s preview column concentrates on the parade of stakes on Aug. 5 at the Meadowlands, where we will be live to cover the classic trot and all of the action adorning the Saturday afternoon program. Watch for tweets with facts, updates and photos @FrankCotolo all that afternoon.

The Hambletonian and the Hambletonian Oaks are covered in detail on this week’s Hambletonian Trail, our TwinSpires-exclusive blog. Check it out along with all of the North America harness action covered below.

Freshman Frolic contenders continue, along with the weekly H2W (the horses-to-watch) list. So do your own handicapping and then consider our H2W selections when playing your bets. Of course, remember to be fully armed with a plentiful TwinSpires betting account.


Some glamour-girl trotters that didn’t make the “Oaks” get a shot at starring in the $30,000 Duenna at the Meadowlands on Friday, Aug. 4 (another Duenna is on the Aug. 5 program—see H2W). Some high-test trainers have third-tier members of their stables in this nine-horse field.

Frank Antonacci’s Grandma’s Moni, however, is not a proven loser, having only one start and one win. The smallest earning resume among the field cannot be held against her; she may be much better than all of these, since the other eight have many knocks against them.


Some glamour-boy trotters passing the Hambletonian gather for the $50,000 Townsend-Ackerman, also on Friday’s program (another Townsend-Ackerman is on the Aug. 5 program—see H2W). Ten outsiders of the division (the best of them have only two wins all season) get a shot at the spotlight here. Antonacci has another unknown in this event, Lindy The Great, who starts her soph campaign in this event. Also lightly raced is Ake Svanstedt’s Hammer Time. They only become impressive contenders when you compare them with the failure of their foes.

When the best of the lot is Di Oggi, two for eight, where do you look? Jimmy Takter’s Sir John F, who has one win, place and show in 10 starts, will get noticed but all in all, you have to go with Hammer Time or pass.

Aside from the main events (see Hambletonian Trail blog), the following are stakes’ assessments in order of their appearance on the Aug. 5 Meadowlands program.


Only six soph-filly pacers get behind the gate for the $113,950 Shady Daisy. Brian Brown’s Blazin Britches could have frightened a few others off with her seven-for-eight record in the division. She goes the choice, no doubt, and who would’ve thought so earlier in the season when Idyllic Beach turned three? We have been bullish on Noel Daley’s filly Caviart Ally and see her here as a possible upset in the short field where money will go for the name-brand trainers’ stock.


the $176,250 Dr. John Steele Memorial presents nine mare trotters with one star in focus—Hannelore Hanover. She towers over these, so exotics may entice play. Certainly Caprice Hill has not impressed at three as expected but could be considered in exotics. Broadway Donna has disappointed, so which gal may partner with the champ? Emoticon Hanover should be a main threat. All of trainer Luc Blais’s horses entered today have to be given a lot of chances and this mare may be worth an upset-win bet as well.


The “predictor” of the 2018 Hambo is the $360,650 Peter Haughton Memorial for two-year-old colt trotters. This early in the frosh season there is usually no dominating colt, so the race is open to arguments. Top trot trainers send their boys. Takter has an overwhelming six in this 10-horse contest. Burke has a pair and the rest are solo entries.

Jim Campbell’s Fashion Forever is bound to be overlooked, as Campbell’s youngsters tend to be around August. Bringing a big purse home, though, is nothing strange to the Campbell barn. Among this group, which includes three maidens, he gets our vote.


The $330, 800 Jim Doherty Memorial Final sends 10 frosh-filly trotters to the gate for their most lucrative contest thus far. Three more from team Takter get going, along with a pair from Erv Miller and only one Burke baby.

In the elims we nailed Trond Smedshammer’s only entry here and you have to be impressed in her chances here. While the crowd goes to the obvious Manchego (four for four), Trond’s Phaetosive, a blue-blooded daughter of Explosive Matter, should get a pass from bettors if only as second choice.


At 1 1/8 miles, a dozen older trotters chase $303,050 in the John Cashman Memorial. Most of these are the top ilk of the division, which starts at four. Hot and ready for another big event is the probable favorite Marion Marauder. Among the youngest in the field, the trotting tri-crown winner has only gotten better after his smashing sophomore season.

But this is a crowded field and the traffic alone could decide the winner. That, however, may not put every character in the field on the table. If at three-quarters there are Spirit-of-Massachusetts-like fractions, the kind affording JL Cruz to win at 60-1, the beneficiaries will be stakes-stronger Flanagan Memory or Musical Rhythm, from far behind. As well, fiery fractions could totally support a ground-saving “Marauder” move.

Danger looms from another Blais visitor, Lookslikeachpndale. Given his 10 post (two second-tiers start from posts 11 and 12) and one for eight scoring card this season, he will be given less of a chance than he deserves, which could equal a strong upset.


The first pacing-triple-crown jewel, the Cane Pace, will not include the division’s and the sport’s top figure, Fear The Dragon. Does that make the default favorite Huntsville? Let’s beat him again as a dozen glamour-boy colt pacers aim at $334,325. Suggested Huntsville-win assassins must include Downbytheseaside, who supplemented for a bundle to race, thus having more to lose in defeat. However, he is no pushover, fans know him and he will be supported. Burke has a trio here but they have not been burning the toteboard with numbers.

So it may come down to Jim Campbell again. Mac’s Jackpot liked winning better than placing and showing but cashed some of those, too, in a dozen starts and here he may be in a position to mow down some speedsters on the inside. This race, since moving to the Meadowlands (and becoming a 1 1/8-miles event), has seen some big turnarounds due to early speed that doesn’t translate in the last quarter, so a charge from Campbell’s steed at a price is not shooting for the moon.

Respectively renamed the Sam McKee Memorial (after the sport’s beloved race caller who passed away early this year) goes for $224,000 and most of us will hear Sam calling the 11-horse older pace in our heads as another 1 1/8-miles stakes fires on the program.

The gathering of inconsistent elders may make for a good-betting race, though, as a dead-on favorite is hard to forecast. Money will be invested in a few here, including the horse that rules the place pool because he cannot seem to win, Boston Red Rocks. Check Six has not excelled this season but won’t be totally ignored. Mach It So race well here, winning in an upset a few weeks back, so he will pick up support, as will Lyons Snyder, who upset a similar group on the oval, also.

How much the crowd goes for Mel Mara is a guess, at best, but it is likely a decent price will surface for the most productive elder here (four for seven wins, two places).


The $200,400 Lady Liberty Final offers eight mare pacers another shot at divisional dominance, especially with the absence of Lady Shadow. Nike Franco N, the most recent winner over Lady Shadow, inherits a favorite spot here. Medusa is the obvious second choice but it looks to be a super spot for Frost Damage Blues to take a major event. Tom Fanning’s mare has been tough and cashing checks and should be a good price against this lot, which includes the disappointing Pure Country, yet to take a race at four.


Two-year-old races at the beginning of each season are the most difficult events for handicappers to forecast winners, no less value. Every season’s start for us means extra work on sire productivity, so we can make wise wagers in freshman races. If you handicap the races below, be sure to respect those listed as contenders.

Aug. 3
Philly, Unreal R4
Hoosier, Delco Dusty R9; Roknrol Freddy R11; Devisser R14

Aug. 4
Tioga, Act Like A Diva R1; No Mo Fo Jo R2; Python Blue Chip R5
Meadowlands, Apprentice M R2; Pecorino R11

H2W Legend

Review our choices and follow the wagering at the prescribed track. These are possible contenders we have judged from reviewing races. The horses’ names are listed beneath the name of the track after the date they will be racing. The race in which they are entered (R and race number) follows. If a + is in front of a horse’s name it means it is appearing on the list for the second (and last) time because it failed to win the first time it appeared. An “ae” signals the horse is entered on the also-eligible list. If a horse is listed twice, refer to the entries on the night of the race since a horse may enter in more than one race. Types of wagering on any of the H2W listed horses are based on your judgment. If you have any questions, email us at TwinSpires.


8/5/17, Pleasing Form R5; Fireyourguns R7; Mcsexy R11

8/3/17, +Allaboutme Hanover R9
8/5/17, Earn And Burn R7

8/5/17, Yes Mickey R10; Princess Aurora R14

8/5/17, JK Will Power R7

8/3/17, Payback R10

8/3/17, +Maddysonofagun R3; +Tijuana Party R10

8/5/17, +Americanleague R10

8/4/17, +Massive Solution R2; Magic Filly R9; Timtron Hanover R11

8/3/17, The Big Bankroll R9

8/3/17, Fiery Jet R3; Maine Cast R4

Red Mile
8/3/17, The Flight Rose R4; Beauxarts Hanover R7; Mr LJ R9
8/5/17, Big Bad Cruisie R5

8/3/17, +Cyclone Joe R7; +Olivias Way R11

8/5/17, Major Camby R7

8/3/17, Ms Lynette R3; Wake R7; Monk R8

8/5/17, +Heaven On Earth R10

8/4/17, Manro R2

8/5/17, +Western Fame R8
8/6/17, +Brooklyn Bond R5; +The Royal Harry R10