by Bob Heyden
The favorite in the Steele Memorial — for the second straight year — was the biggest favorite of the day and finished off the board:
2017 — 20 cents Hannelore Hanover was fourth
2018 — 30 cents Ariana G was fifth
Muscle Hill started the day fifth in North America in stallion earnings and ended it second (to Cantab Hall), thanks to seven winners!
1. Muscle Diamond in the Vincennes $6.00 (2nd choice).
2. Don’t Let Em in the $422,350 Peter Haughton over another son of Muscle Hill (Green Manalishi S) $8.00 to win.
3. Marion Marauder $10.40 for the richest Triple Crown winner in harness history ($2.8 million plus) capturing the $286,650 Cashman.
4. The Ice Dutchess in the $357,450 Jim Doherty $12.80 to win, with another daughter of Muscle Hill second Beautfiul Sin.
5. Tactical Landing in his $100,000 Hambletonian elimination $14.80 to win.
6. Machego 1:50 stakes record in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks final $2.80 as the only favorite on this list of seven.
7. Dream Together $105.60 the highest priced winner of the day in the $154,800 Steele Memorial.
Jimmy Takter’s slate was 23 5-4-2. His horses earned 15 checks. He was on the board in both Triple Crown events — second with 60-1 Grand Teton in the Cane and third with Tactical Landing in the Hambletonian final.
Jimmy and Johnny Takter, 57 and 59, respecticely, were the only drivers on the entire card over 40 who won a race on Hambletonian Day 2018 — and both have talked retirement after this year.
Fourteen of the top 22 trainers in harness racing history, by earnings, were in action on Hambletonian Day, with Ron Burke becoming the first ever to surpass $200 million.
Eleven of the last 16 winning trainers in the Hambletonian were born outside the United States.
Twenty-three of the 48 editions of the Hambletonian Oaks have gone to a driver born outside the United States.
The only drive born in the United States to win a race on Hambletonian Day was Tim Tetrick, who had four wins, three with favorites.
Andy Miller is getting there
Andy Miller, is getting closer to a Hambletonian victory. Note, he has never driven for anyone not named Miller — six times for his wife, Julie, and once for his brother, Erv.
2009 — fourth with The Chancellor at 78-1
2010 — sixth with Mystery Photo at 15-1
2011 — eighth with Manofmanymissions at 8-5
2012 — not in it
2013 — last with Money On My Mind
2014 and 2015 — not in it
2016 — third beaten a neck for everything with Sutton at 48-1
2017 — placed second with his second Hambletonian favorite — Devious Man (2-1)
2018 — second at 25-1 with Mets Hall
10 0-2-1 — $858,326
There were eight 100-1 shots on the day — and three of those eight came in the Hambletonian Oaks.
Andy Miller for Julie Miller and Yannick Gingras for Ron Burke have been runnerups the last four Hambletonians back to back. These are the only two times that a driver/trainer combo has gone back-to-back bridesmaid in the Hambletonian at the Meadowlands.
Ten times on Hambletonian Day 2018 the second choice won the race, including both the Hambletonian and the Oaks. Atlanta was second choice, as was Manchego, who was 10 cents to the dollar higher than Phaetosive.
This was the second Hambletonian victory for Scott Zeron and the third time a female has won the Hambletonian in East Rutherford — all were second choices in the final.
Campbell favored in the Hambletonian again
Only this time it was Jim Campbell, whose Crystal Fashion won his elim in 1:50.1 and was fourth in the final. John was last favored in the Hambletonian with 2010 runnerup Lucky Chucky.
27-28-29-39… Oh, Canada
Bob McClure, 27, drove the highest priced winner
Doug McNair, 28, had a Triple Crown breakthrough
Scott Zeron, 29, had a huge day, including his second Hambletonian
Yannick Gingras had yet another banner day on the first Saturday in August, this time with it falling on his 39th birthday.
All four were born in Canada.
For the sixth time in the last 17 editions the Hambletonian Oaks final went faster than the Hambletonian final.
McWicked (2nd in the McKee Memorial), surpassed last year’s earnings in just his ninth try of 2018:
9 6-2-0 $625,050
27 7-7-2 $560,025
Three sub-1:50 trotters entered the Hambletonian Day festivities, but all went down:
J L Cruze 1:49.4 was sixth, Hannelore Hanover 1:49.2 was third and Plunge Blue Chip 1:49.4 was third.