Hollywood’s Hits: 15 incredible Hambletonian Day facts you should know

by Bob Heyden

1. How dominant is Muscle Hill?
2008 Hambletonian winner Deweycheatumnhowe has one entrant on today’s Hambletonian Day card.
2009 Hambletonian winner Muscle Hill has 30 entered on the card
2010 Hambletonian winner Muscle Massive has 3 entered on the card

2. Post position one. Remember that the last time the Meadowlands had a day of this magnitude — the 2016 Breeders Crown weekend, actually — post position one was not only blanked, it was 0-36 on the board in the 12 Crown events. Only Split The House managed a fourth.

3. $3,861,825 in total purses today, both of the horses involved in the “Trotter Of The Year” ballot of 2016 — 73-72 in favor of Marion Marauder over Hannelore Hanover — are at the Meadowlands; Erv Miller recently topped the 5,000 career win total (the third trainer to do so) and Ron Burke (8,000 wins recently) are both in East Rutherford, NJ.

4. Ron Burke last year became the first trainer in 45 years to have back-to-back with runner-up finishes in the Hambletonian. Jimmy Arthur did it in 1970-1971 with Formal Notice and Savoir. This year, Burke has three shots at breaking through for the whole pot. (Mission Brief 2015 and Southwind Frank last year)

5. Somebeachsomewhere, who did not race in the 2008 Cane Pace — has sired eight of the 12 Cane Pace entrants in there this year.

6. Twenty-six horses are over 50 per cent lifetime in winning percentage on the Hambletonian Day card, four are double millionaires with 19 millionaires total.

7. If trainer Julie Miller’s Devious Man wins the Hambletonian, it will be the third female trainer in six years to win it, joining Linda Toscano and Paula Wellwood. Twenty of the last 22 caretakers of the Hambletonian winner have also been female.

8. No Fear The Dragon on the card, no Betting Line last year. Is this going to be the second straight year that the sophomore pacing colt of the year did not compete in East Rutherford? Possible. It would also be the only two times this has ever happened. (Keystone Ore did not in 1976, but that was year one for the Meadowlands and the staking scenario had to be long done by the time the Meadowlands opened its doors on Sept. 1.

9. Tagliabue entered the 1995 Hambletonian one-for-seven lifetime; Alf Palema the 1992 Hambletonian winner was three-for-17 lifetime and off the board in his last five (by a combined 36 lengths) and both won it. The days of Nevele Pride 36-for-40 going into the 1968 Hambletonian are long gone.

10. Seventy-three-year-old Bi Shively won the 1952 Hambletonian with Sharp Note; he a war veteran from the 1898 Spanish-American war. Seventy-three-year-old Terry Morgan drove last night on the Hambletonian weekend card.

11. No Walner, no Campbell, no Pierce, no Lachance, no problem.

12. Tim Tetrick is looking for his second Hambletonian. He’s 35, the same age David Miller was when he came to the Meadowlands in 1999 full-time and the same age Brian Sears was when he ventured to the Meadowlands in 2003.

13. Art Major used Hambletonian Day 2002 as his unofficial launching pad towards greatness. He had $109,085 entering the day-and wound up the year leading all over North America at $1,562,779

14. None of the three Trotting Triple Crown winners during the Meadowlands era were favored to win the Hambletonian that year! Marion Marauder wasn’t last year (Bar Hopping the choice), and Windsongs Legacy (2004 9-2) and Glidemaster (2006 6-1) were not either.

15. Twenty years is a long time (1997-2017), especially when you look at the youth among the driver colony. Twenty-four-year-old Montrelle Teague had the HOY in 2015 with Wiggle It Jiggleit, and just last year 27-year-old Scott Zeron won the Triple Crown and was runnerup in the Driver Of The Year. Contrast this to 1997 at the Meadowlands, when, in 1,805 races, just 10 times was the winning driver under 30. Marcus Miller (28); Joe Bongiorno (23); Scott Zeron (28) and Matt Kakaley (29) are all in action this weekend on Hambletonian Day