Handicapper Blog

Posted by Ken Warkentin on Thursday, August 08, 2013 11:31 AM

Hambletonian Day 2013 – A Day for the Stars to Shine


Morning rain cleared, the sun came out, and so did a typically large and roaring Hambletonian Day crowd to enjoy a day when the stars shine and dreams came true.  The final card of harness racing in front of the original grandstand had both a nostalgic tone, as well as an optimistic and anticipatory feel with a new, state of the art facility taking shape in the backstretch.


I Luv The Nitelife kicked off the proceedings with another one of her narrow decisions in the Miss New Jersey.  It was the seventh straight win for the Rocknroll Hanover filly.  Her stakes record of 1:49 was a full second faster than Put On A Show in 2010 for the same connections, Tim Tetrick, Chris Ryder, Richard and Joanne Young.


In a battle of Jimmy Takter’s undefeated fillies, Shake It Cerry went three-for-three by setting a track record of 1:53.3 in the Merrie Annabelle with Ron Pierce.  The Donato Hanover filly defeated stablemate Lifetime Pursuit and Cee Bee Yes.


How fitting that a daughter of Oaks champion Danae pulled her own Hambletonian Day upset in the $55,000 Ima Lula Final.  With Corey Callahan, the Yankee Glide filly D’Orsay steamrolled to a world record equaling 1:51.4 at 17-1, leaving Personal Style and Check Me Out in her wake.  Trainer Jonas Czernyson capped off his best ever Championship Meet.


Corey Callahan came right back with another upset in the Lady Liberty with 2011 Mistletoe Shalee winner Drop The Ball.  The Western Terror millionaire, trained by Ross Croghan, turned the tables on two-time Dan Patch Award winner Anndrovette in 1:49.  Callahan finished second in the Big M driver standing with 99 wins.


In the Peter Haughton Memorial, it was Jimmy Takter again as Father Patrick dominated in 1:54.1 with Yannick Gingras.  The son of Cantab Hall easily handled Nuncio and Southwind Spirit.  His brother Pastor Stephen was disqualified from first in the 2010 edition.  The real Father Patrick, Reverend Patrick McDonnell, the pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church in Hightstown, N.J., was on hand for the trophy presentation.


Little Brown Fox gave Takter a Hambletonian Day triple with a 1:53.3 mile in the $75,000 Vincennes Trot, which also kicked off a sensational day for Brian Sears. 


Sears set the tone in the first Hambletonian elimination by going all the way from post eight with Royalty For Life in 1:52.  The son of RC Royalty put trainer George Ducharme at ease with his convincing score over Smilin Eli and High Bridge.


In his bid for five Hambletonians, Hall of Famer Mike Lachance guided Creatine to a clear decision in 1:52.4 for trainer Bob Stewart.  Wheeling N Dealin could not capitalize on a two-hole trip and Aperfectyankee settled for third in the second elimination.  Dontyouforgetit qualified as the fourth-place finisher with the highest career earnings.


With a combined seven Hambletonians, Ron Pierce (three) and Chuck Sylvester (four) sent out the third elimination winner, Spider Blue Chip in 1:53.4.  It was back-to-back winners for sire Andover Hall, and with speed dominant, all three elimination winners went wire-to-wire. Corky and Lauderdale also advanced to the final.


Andy Miller took full advantage of the speed favoring conditions with Sevruga in the John Cashman, Jr. Memorial.  The TVG-FFA Series points leader and the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial winner padded his lead by going all the way in 1:50.4, defeating Mister Herbie and Uncle Peter.


The sensational Bee A Magician extended her 2013 undefeated streak to nine in a row and flaunted her speed in the Hambletonian Oaks with a 1:51.4 stakes record.  The Kadabra filly, who set a world record of 1:51 in the Delvin Miller Memorial, gave trainer Nifty Norman his second consecutive Oaks. She defeated Classic Martine and To Dream On.


Royalty For Life asserted himself again in the $1 million Hambletonian Final with another well controlled mile in 1:52.1.  Just as he did in 2009 with Broadway Schooner and Muscle Hill, Brian Sears swept the two biggest races on the card, while notching his fourth win of the day.  Smilin Eli edged Corky for second.  Royalty For Life was a sweet triumph for Massachusetts breeder and co-owner Alfred Ross, and co-owners Ray Campbell and Paul Fontaine.  After making breaks in his first three starts of 2013, Royalty For Life came to form and proved to be the best for Vernon Downs-based trainer George Ducharme.  


In the New Jersey Classic, Lucan Hanover exploded from off the pace in a career best of 1:48.3 for Dave Miller and trainer Casie Coleman.  The son of Western Ideal rallied from post nine to his fourth straight win, defeating Emeritus Maximus and Rockin Amadeus.


The magical late double began when 2012 North America Cup winner Thinking Out Loud converted a perfect second over trip into a 23-1 upset in the US Pacing Championship in a career best of 1:47.2.  Fellow Hall of Famers John Campbell and Bob McIntosh teamed up to beat Bolt The Duer and Golden Receiver.  Ponder, the 2006 winner for Campbell and McIntosh, sired the top two finishers.


With his flair for the dramatic, John Campbell rallied to sweep the late double with Dapper Dude, another Bob McIntosh trainee.  The track’s all-time leading driver fittingly captured the $40,000 Auld Lang Syne Free For All with a son of The Panderosa in 1:49.2, waving goodbye to a treasure chest of memories and looking ahead to a new era at the Meadowlands.



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Ken Warkentin has been a member of the award-winning broadcast team at Meadowlands Racetrack as the Track Announcer and television commentator for almost 20 years. Ken has appeared on national television networks such as ESPN, called 11 editions of the $1.5 million Hambletonian, and worked as a member of the broadcast team for NBC Sports and CBS Sports.

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