Handicapper Blog

Posted by Ken Warkentin on Friday, January 24, 2014 2:27 PM

2014 Hambletonian Winterbook

The 2014 Hambletonian at the New Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment is Saturday, August 2, and for the second straight year a son of Cantab Hall, Father Patrick, heads the Winterbook Top 10 list.  Cantab Hall went 10-for-10 as a freshman, but had to settle for second in the 2004 Hambletonian.  In 11 outings, Father Patrick only lost his second career start, then reeled off nine straight wins and was the overwhelming division champion.

1-Father Patrick Jimmy Takter converted a two-year-old champion into a Hambletonian winner with Malabar Man, then twice came up short with Ken Warkentin and Father Patrick’s full brother Pastor Steven.  Takter said he’s never had a better horse than this one as a two-year-old and believes this time he has colt comparable to Muscle Hill.  Like that standout, this son of Cantab Hall romped in the Peter Haughton Memorial, and also dominated the William Wellwood Memorial and the Breeders Crown, winning his elimination in a world record of 1:52.1.  Yannick Gingras declared Father Patrick the most talented horse he’s ever driven.


2-Nuncio With Donato Hanover to his credit in 2006, Andover Hall sends out a late-blooming bargain $7,000 yearling.  Jim Oscarsson finished fourth in the 2013 Hambletonian with Aperfectyankee and hopes Nuncio can better that after finishing a distant second in the Peter Haughton Memorial and Breeders Crown.  Freshened up off a sick scratch in the Fall, Nuncio set a Dover Downs track record of 1:53 in the Matron Final with John Campbell in the bike.


3-Southwind Spirit – The first crop of 2009 champion Muscle Hill reached Top Five status led by this $105,000 Harrisburg yearling, who set a Balmoral Park track record of 1:54.1 and dominated the American National for the Burke Barn.  The NJ-bred half brother to Breeders Crown champion Southwind Serena lost by a nose in a world record 1:53.1 Bluegrass division, and capped his freshman season going all the way in the Kindergarten Classic Final in 1:55 at Vernon Downs.


4-Muscle Network – The first crop of Muscle Hill produced this world champion who broke his maiden at the Red Mile in 1:53.2, eclipsing his sire’s world mark by a fifth, while parked the mile.  After spending just two weeks with trainer Jonas Czernyson, the private purchase by Frank Bellino colt pulled a 1:55.1 upset in the Valley Victory for Dave Miller, prompting Czernyson to declare Muscle Network Hambletonian material.


5-Credit Fashion It’s been 19 years since Team Tagliabue, trainer Jim Campbell and Fashion Farms, were basking in Hambletonian glory back in 1995.  Credit Fashion, a Credit Winner colt, distinguished himself in NYSS, finishing second in the final at Yonkers Raceway.  Credit Fashion was also third in both the William Wellwood Memorial and the Breeders Crown, and took a mark of 1:57.1 at Tioga Downs. 


6-Don Dorado – Tim Tetrick captured his first Hambletonian with Market Share in 2012, and the Bionic Man could return with a speedy Donato Hanover gelding named Don Dorado, who emerged as The King of PASS, going wire-to-wire in the final in 1:56.2 at Harrah’s Philadelphia.  Trained by Bob Baggitt, Jr, Don Dorado was freshened up for the Breeders Crown with two impressive qualifiers at Pocono Downs, but broke after a taking a bye into the final.


7-Odds On Amethyst – Muscle Hill’s first crop yielded another promising colt, and the third foal out of two-time Breeders Crown champion Mystical Sunshine flashed some major league talent with a wire-to-wire win in the Bluegrass in 1:54.2, beating next-out winner Muscle Network.  Odds On Amethyst was a late-season purchase by Diamond Creek Racing for trainer Chris Ryder, who has another Muscle Hill prospect in Well Built.


8-Exodus Hanover – Trainer Steve Elliott may be back on the scene with a son of his 2007 champion Donato Hanover, who was a Grand Circuit stakes winner and strong in PASS, finishing third in that final.  This $42,000 Harrisburg yearling won six of 11 and took a mark of 1:55.2 at Vernon Downs.


9-Auspicious Hanover – Aside from Nuncio, Andover Hall had a big year with Hambletonian elimination winner Spider Blue Chip, and one of his newest prospects is Auspicious Hanover.  Although he failed to win in 11 starts at two, Auspicious Hanover had his moments for trainer/driver Charlie Norris.  His highlight came finishing second to Don Dorado in the PASS Final, he picked up checks in Grand Circuit action at The Red Mile and was a Breeders Crown finalist.


10-Great Society – Great Society showed immediate promise in his baby races at the Meadowlands.  This Tony Alagna-trained son of Muscle Hill then began to really blossom in the Fall at The Red Mile where he cruised in a pair of lighter late closing events in 1:56 and 1:55.2 – encouraging miles from this $50,000 yearling for top connections. 


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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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