Trainer Noel Daley heads into the final weeks before the $1.5 million Hambletonian on Saturday, August 4 with three chances to repeat in harness racing’s ultimate classic.
Daley has his three-year-old trotters Gym Tan Laundry, Magic Tonight and Beer Summit all pointing in the right direction on the road to the Hambletonian eliminations July 28 at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
The 50-year-old Australian became the first Down Under trainer to win the Hambletonian last year with Broad Bahn, who was voted the Dan Patch Award winner in his division for 2011. That son of Broadway Hall went wire-to-wire in 1:53 for driver George Brennan. Daley also finished second in 2009 with Explosive Matter.
Gym Tan Laundry has been entered in Saturday’s $25,000 three-year-old open at the Meadowlands along with his stablemate Royal Shyster. Gym Tan Laundry is a gelding by Yankee Glide with $229,501 on his card for Adam Victor and Son Stable. He lit up the Mohawk tote board at 161-1 when he set the pace from post nine and finished a close third to stablemate Magic Tonight in the Goodtimes Final on June 16. After a month layoff, he finished fifth in a Stanley Dancer Memorial division last Saturday at the Meadowlands.
“Gym Tan Laundry had raced six weeks in a row and that’s why I gave him a month off before the Dancer,” Daley said. “He was very good in the final of the Goodtimes. That’s probably the way we have to drive him. We’ll put more work into him on Saturday night. If he’s good enough we’ll probably put him in [the Hambletonian eliminations].
“Unfortunately, Royal Shyster just hasn’t worked out and he definitely won’t be entered in the eliminations,” he continued. “When I first qualified him when I got him this season I was very happy with the colt. Then, it was one thing after another, and I don’t really know why he’s not been that good. He seems to be turning the corner again, but not enough, so we’ll just wait for him to come around later in the season. There’s still plenty of money for him to make.”
Daley’s other top prospects, Magic Tonight and Beer Summit, have the week off.
Magic Tonight was second in a Pennsylvania Sires Stakes division in his most recent start on July 14 at Pocono Downs. The Andover Hall colt shattered the track record at The Meadows with a 1:52.4 mile on May 30. The Grand Circuit stakes winner at two has banked $221,613 for Adam Victor and Son Stable of New York, NY.
“We gave him three weeks off as a sort of restart and he came back good the other night,” said Daley, whose stable is based at Magical Acres in Chesterfield, NJ. “He was disappointing in his Beal elimination and that final [June 15 and 23, respectively, at Pocono]. That was after he set that track record at The Meadows. He was obviously very good that day. They did go pretty quick in the Beal, including a world record of 1:50.4 in the final, but he should have finished better than he did [seventh]. He just wasn’t as sharp. I purposely didn’t race him this week because I don’t think he needs a lot of work. Hopefully, we get through next week and he’ll be at his peak. It’s a little bit of a toss up between him and Beer Summit for my best chance.”
Beer Summit’s season highlight was an 8-1 upset rally in the $343,980 Goodtimes Final at Mohawk in a track record equaling 1:52.2 with Ron Pierce in the bike. The son of Cantab Hall has made $314,229 for Sharlene Vanderkemp of Wrightstown, NJ, Mirva Boqucki of Cream Ridge, NJ, and Jerry and Teresa Silva of Long Beach, NY.
“Beer Summit won the Goodtimes, then came back from Canada and was sick,” noted Daley. “He had a temperature on and off for over a week of 105. That’s why he didn’t start for another month. I knew he was going to be a bit short the other night at Pocono [fourth in a Pennsylvania Sires Stakes division], but he was still disappointing. He scoped a little sick. He gets lost on the front end. He’s more of an off-the-pace horse anyway. He’s very quick when he can stalk the pace and get his way. He’s very capable and never surprises me. I’ll train him lightly on Friday and Monday.”
Daley readily says this year’s Hambletonian is still wide open.
“I seem to think they’ll be three eliminations this year. The filly [Check Me Out] was so good the other night. I talked to Ray [Check Me Out’s trainer Ray Schnittker] last Friday, and he was leaning towards the Hambletonian. She certainly didn’t do anything to discourage him on Saturday. Now I’ve got a feeling he might put her in there.
“There’s a bunch of quick horses this time around and many might take a stab without a dominant one. It wouldn’t shock me if we saw 24 or 25 entered. Takter [trainer Jimmy Takter] has three legitimate horses. He might even put five in it. Jim Campbell has a couple of good ones. Archangel [Yonkers Trot winner] is a nice one. Trond [trainer Trond Smedshammer] has a new colt [Riccolo] he’ll test out on Saturday. This is the deepest crop I’ve seen in a long time, the most interesting Hambletonian to come along in awhile, and this is a much better group than last year.”
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