Meadowlands host huge Hambletonian Day card

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Ted Black

August 3rd, 2018

While many harness racing enthusiasts are accustomed to seeing the sport's best trotters and pacers compete under the lights, this Saturday afternoon the Meadowlands will host the Grade I, $1 million Hambletonian Stakes on a stellar, stakes-filled card that will get under way at noon and be concluded well before sunset.

Saturday's second race is the $100,000 Shady Daisy for three-year-old filly pacers and this race attracted the three best sophomores in training. Kissin In The Sand (Scott Zeron) is the current division leader having won four of six starts for trainer Nancy Johansson and gets another chance to clash with Youaremycandygirl (Yannick Gingras) who has won three of seven starts this year and 12 of 18 career outings including a sharp 1:50.4 victory in the Adioo Volo last week at the Meadows. Alexa's Power (Tim Tetrick) has won five of 10 starts this year for trainer Jim Campbell.

Then one race later in the $420,000 Peter Haughton Memorial for two-year-old colt trotters seeking to earn their fair share of fame and glory one year from now, trainer Marcus Melander appears to hold the upper hand. Melander will send out Gerry (Tetrick) Greenshoe (Brian Sears) and Green Manalishi (David Miller), all of which arrive unbeaten in two starts. Greenshoe owns the fastest mark courtesy of a 1:53.3 score, but Gerry won in 1:54.3 and Green Manalishi sports a 1:55.2 mark.

Then one race later in the $350,000 James Doherty Memorial for two-year-old filly trotters who will be seeking Hambo Oaks glory next summer, Beautiful Sin (Gingras) has won twice in three starts and was second in her elim to Special Honor (David Miller) who has won twice in four starts including her 1:55.1 elim tally. Starita (Miller) won her Doherty elim in 1:55.2 last weekend for her first win in five outings, while Maryland-bred Hanna Dreamgirl (Tetrick) and The Ice Dutchess (Johnny Takter) both have upset prospects.

Then two races later in the $285,000 John Cashman Memorial for older trotters traveling one-mile and one-eighth, reigning harness horse of the year Hannelore Hanover (Gingras) will seek her seventh win in as many starts this weekend but she will have to do so from post 12 in the second tier. In addition to having to overcome the difficult post, Hannelore Hanover will tackle talented male rivals Will Take Charge (Tetrick), Marion Marauder (Zeron) and JL Cruze (Brett Miller), who won his seasonal debut last weekend in the Preferred but will start from post 11 in the second tier.

Then one race later in the $280,000 Cane Pace, the opening leg of the Triple Crown for three-year-old colt pacers, Maryland-bred Courtly Choice (David Miller) will put his three-race win streak on the line. Courtly Choice has won six of eight starts this year including a 1:47.1 triumph in the $700,000 Meadowlands Pace. He will face Stay Hungry (Doug McNair) and American History (Gingras), who rebounded from a dismal effort in the Meadowlands Pace to win his Adios elim and finish second in the final.

Then one later in the first $100,000 Hambeltonian elimination for three-year-old colt trotters, Wolfgang (Gingras) will put his unblemished sophomore record on the line for trainer Jimmy Takter against Maryland-bred Met's Hall (Andy Miller), Crystal Fashion (Tetrick) and Atlanta (Zeron) the lone filly in the field. Atlanta has won all five of her starts this year for trainer Rick Zeron and looks destined to earn a spot in the Hambo final later on Saturday afternoon.

Then one race later in the second $100,000 Hambo elim, Southwind Chrome (Zeron), Tactical Landing (Takter) and You Know You Do (Gingras) will face Six Pack (Ake Svandtstedt) who has won five of six starts and earned over $360,000 this year. This Svandtstedt trainee looks destined to earn a berth in the final in the weaker elim and should be tough in the final.

Then two races later in the $260,000 Sam McKee Memorial final for older pacers at one-mile and one-eighth, McWicked (Sears) will seek to remain his status as the best aged pacer in the land when he leaves from post 12 in the second tier. The Casie Coleman trainee will clash with durable sorts Dealt A Winner (Davis Miller), All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley), Rockin Ron (Louis Roy), Sicily (Victor Kirby), Western Joe (Zeron), Filibuster Hanover (Gingras), Miso Fast (Tetrick) and Mach It So. Sicily appears outclassed in this spot but he has won his last two starts at Ocean Downs in 1:53 and 1:51.3, respectively, and could be a factor with a trip.

Then one race later in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for three-year-old filly trotters, elim winners Manchego (Gingras) and Phaetosive (Trond Smedshammer ) will vie for favoritism and Oaks glory against Plunge Blue Chip (Svandstedt), Hey Blondie, Live Love Laugh and Lily Stride. Both Manchego and Phaetosive were sharp winners last weekend, while Plunge Blue Chip failed to repeat her 1:49.4 score from two weeks earlier and will look to rebound from the rail this weekend.

Then one race later the sophomore trotting colts return for the Grade I, $1 million Hambletonian and one of the last of the sport's heat races should come down to Wolfgang, Crystal Fashion, Atlanta and Six Pack. Then one race later in the $200,000 for trotting fillies and mares, Ariana G (Gingras) will seek her fourth win in six starts for Takter against the likes of Broadway Donna, Emoticon Hanover and Caprice Hill.