(By Jay Bergman for Hambletonian Society/Meadowlands)
Check Me Out showed her dominance in the first Hambletonian Oaks elimination scoring decisively in 1:53 4/5 for driver Tim Tetrick.
The race unfolded early as Holier Than Thou and driver Yannick Gingras left purposefully for position. Superstar Hanover, with trainer Jimmy Takter in the bike, secured the front at the quarter clocked in :28 1/5. All along the 1-20 favorite Check Me Out sat third biding her time.
Tetrick waited until the halfway point clocked in :57 1/5 before moving his filly to the outside. The Ray Schnittker-trained filly quickly engaged the pacesetter on the turn and secured the front as the pair passed the three-quarter mile marker in 1:25 4/5.
From that point to the wire it was a one-horse race with Check Me Out effortlessly drawing clear of her rivals.
Uncommon Night with George Brennan had sat inside for most of the mile and navigated through the tightest of openings to earn the place spot some two and three-quarter lengths in arrears of the winner.
Superstar Hanover was put to a full drive through much of the stretch and held the third spot with Holier Than Thou and Sassy Syrinx earning the final berths in the final.
For A Dancer, a winner in all six of her starts this year entering the Hambletonian Oaks, was unable to keep up with the winner following her cover on the final turn and finished sixth failing to make the final. Valdonna also lost all chance when she broke at the outset.
Check Me Out has now won six straight races this year after losing her first start of the year.
“I just wanted to keep her comfortable,” said Tetrick in regard to his confident steer of the prized filly. “The only reason she lost those two races last year was because of me,” he joked.
Check Me Out’s connections will now be able to select their post position for the final. Tetrick said he’d probably recommend posts three or four.
There will be two titans in the $714,050 Hambletonian Oaks final after Maven captured the second Hambletonian Oaks elimination in a brisk 1:52 4/5 mile.
With Yannick Gingras in the bike the filly scored her fifth victory of the season in just seven starts.
Maven was able to get away third in the field of seven as D’Orsay and Win Missy B engaged in a brief early battle before Win Missy B took control. Driver Brian Sears seemed to be a passenger as Win Missy B carved out a :27 2/5 opening quarter over the “good” surface and got to the half with a clear advantage in :56 2/5.
Sears’ filly just kept trotting through the third quarter with Maven edging off the rail late on the final turn. The third quarter was reached in 1:24 2/5 with Win Missy B still in control and Maven working her way into the two-hole.
In the stretch Maven angled out early and quickly made up ground on the leader surging to control and drawing clear by three lengths.
Win Missy B was well clear finishing second with Personal Style a distant third.
Dream On Hanover rallied nicely from well back for fourth with Real Babe earning the final qualifying berth.
Driver Gingras praised his filly after the race. “She’s two-fingers to drive,” he said. Trainer Jonas Czernyson talked about the week ahead. “There will be no changes in what we do this week,” he said.
Maven owns the only victory this year over the first Hambletonian Oaks elimination winner Check Me Out having beaten that filly in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes race at the Meadows in May.
Check Me Out nosed out Maven in the $519,400 Elegantimage final at Mohawk in June.
The two rivals will each select their posts for the final and the likelihood is not much will separate them behind the starting gate.
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