The top eight money-winning horses in North America were in action at the Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day.
That goes along with an impressive stat that six of the last seven Horse of the Year winners had a start on Hambletonian Day at some point in their careers.
Hambletonian Day marked both the fastest and richest wins for 27-year-old driver Scott Zeron. He drove Marion Marauder to victory in the $1 million Hambletonian the same day he piloted his father’s pacer, Shamballa to a 1:47.1 upset in the U.S. Pacing Championship.
Zeron is the eighth first-time driver to win the Hambletonian since it moved to the Meadowlands in 1981. The others are: Ray Remmen (1981), Ulf Thoresen (1986), Bill Fahy (1989), Jack Moiseyev (1991), Trevor Ritchie (2000), Stefan Melander (2001) and Eric Ledford (2002).
This year’s Hambletonian marked the first time since the race came to the Meadowlands in 1981 that the race was decided by a nose. The last Hambletonian decided by that margin was in 1975.
Two female trainers have won the Hambletonian and both times Shelly Grieco was paddocking — 2012 for Linda Toscano and 2016 for Paula Wellwood.
Muscle Hill sons won both Hambletonian elims, the Peter Haughton, Jim Doherty the Hambletonian Oaks the Cashman and went 1-2 in the Hambletonian final. The last time a stallion had this kind of day was in 2007 when Andover Hall’s first crop was 1-2 in the Hambletonian (won by Donato Hanover with Adrian Chip second) and his daughter, Danae, won the Hambletonian Oaks. And that doesn’t even count Pampered Princess, an elim winner who opted for the Hambletonian agaist the boys and didn’t get a check.
54 years ago
This year’s Cane Pace was contested at a mile-and-an-eighth, marking the first time since 1962 that any Triple Crown event has been at a distance other than a mile. The 1962 Yonkers Trot won by A Cs Viking and the Cane Pace won by Ranger Knight were both contested at a mile-and-sixteenth.
Driver Chris Christoforou and Flanagan Memory gave it a good try in the Cashman, finishing third. Christoforou was trying to win his first Meadowlands race in 13 years.
Howard Beissinger and Keith Waples have both been alive for all 91 Hambletonians.
Broadway Schooner was three-for-14 lifetime when she won the Hambletonian Oaks in 2009. Her daughter, Broadway Donnas was 11-for-14 heading into this year’s Oaks and didn’t win, finishing fourth.
How Swede it is
Swedish-born trainers Jan Johnson and Jimmy Takter now have six Hambletonian Oaks victories apiece.
Against the odds
Twenty-six horses entered Hambletonian Day with a lifetime winning percentage better than 50 per cent and only three of them won — Hannelore Hanover, Control The Moment and All The Time.