Trotters Reach Pinnacle Point On Hambletonian Trail

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

July 15th, 2015

On Saturday, July 18, the Meadowlands will host one of its signature cards of their race meeting: Meadowlands Pace night. Among the features are the pivotal prep events on the Hambletonian Trail, which are the Stanley Dancer Memorial and the Delvin Miller Memorial. The “Dancer” has attracted two-divisions worth of colt trotters, while the “Miller” for the gals goes as one split.

The Miller is practically in the hands of Mission Brief, who has had a lackluster return to racing at three by comparison to her freshman season. Ron Burke seems to be getting her on the right track and this race will be the determining factor to whether or not Mission Brief is a Hambletonian starter or a Hambletonian Oaks starter. She will be a heavy favorite here, too, so we have some opportunity to profit.

Even if Mission Brief isn’t an odds-on favorite, partly because she’s competing against tougher horses like Wild Honey and Livininthefastlane, those three will distribute the public’s funds so that our contender, Magic Marker, has a higher price. She put in a sharp closing effort to catch Rules Of The Road in a Reynolds stake, albeit “Road” was faltering on the lead. Yet, other fillies may not have been able to recoup ground like Magic Marker did and she certainly seems to be getting better heading into this race.

The opening Dancer division is the weaker of the two from a betting standpoint, with six Hambo-bound trotters competing for the $157,225 purse. Off his win in the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, Pinkman will likely be the public’s choice. Outside of him are a group of trotters that still seem to be getting comfortable with their gaits. These include talented sophomores Canepa Hanover and Cruzado Dela Noche, who both broke in their last start. The enigma Muscle Diamond also makes his return here instead of in the Reynolds last week, as illness forced him to scratch.

All of these factors in mind, Habitat may be the value off his win in the “Beal” consolation, since most of these trotters were racing against tougher horses. Of course, Habitat also has a load of gait problems, so whether or not we can get him at 3-1 or 4-1 is questionable. Cruzado Dela Noche should also be more of a factor this go around, since he adds hopples for this start to assist his rough gait.

The latter division is more equally matched, gathering a field nearly entirely venturing towards the Hambletonian, with the exemption of Crazy Wow, who may be the fiercest competitor of this bunch. However, Donatomite should be up to the challenge. The Donato Hanover colt, who recently secured a spot in our top-10 trotters heading to the Hambletonian, put in a sharp performance against Habitat in the Beal consolation by going the mile first over and still managing to finish third. Trainer Trond Smedshammer seems to be priming his main Hambletonian prospect so that his sharpest performance comes in August but he could also display his improvement with a win here.

The racing of classic divisions—soph-colt-and-filly trotters—on their quest to the Hambletonian and “Oaks” finals continues its exclusive, extended coverage from TwinSpires and the Hambletonian Society.

Recaps of races covered in this blog can be found at the archive section of the web’s home for the Hambletonian Society.