Road to the Hambletonian – Final Rankings

The Guru’s Road to the Hambletonian – Final Week

July 28, 2019

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by Ron Gurfein

Please take note of the fact that the Hambletonian Final will pay all 10 starters. Therefore, the sixth through 10th place finishers will receive one per cent or $10,000. This will lessen their $15,000 entry fee by sixty six per cent. Therefore the presence of Greenshoe, a prohibitive favorite, will not be as menacing at the entry box. I expect a field that will create two divisions. Last night’s Reynolds results were not available prior to the deadline for these rankings.



Father Patrick — Designed To Be
$330,000 Lexington Selected $403,223 3,1:50.1
Courant Inc, Hans R Backe, Lars Granqvist,and Martin Langli
Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld
Marcus Melander / Brian Sears

This colt started at the top of my list over a year ago and has never wavered. Nothing but a severe twist of fate or an earthquake will prevent him from standing in the winner’s circle next Saturday. However, I am not fond of Melander’s choice not to at least qualify him before the race. It will be a three-week layoff since his last start demolishing a field in the Stanley Dancer. My concern is NOT that he will be short because he has way too much ability, but that he will be TOO FRESH and maybe a little anxious behind the gate. “Baby Trainer” is pretty sharp. He probably trained him in 1:52, that would take the edge off.


Muscle Hill — Order By Wish
$180,000 Harrisburg $342,983 3, 1:51.4
Ake Svanstedt, Order By Stable, Howard Taylor
Order By Stable
Ake Svanstedt / Ake Svanstedt

This colt is definitely on the improve and at the perfect time. He has a wise old fox for a trainer and has proven time and again that he is a master at having a horse right for the money. Anyone who thought that the win in the Earl Beal Memorial was a fluke doesn’t believe that anymore after his convincing romp last Saturday in the Tompkins Geers. Ake will be doing some serious driver hunting this week, it looks like he will enter at least three. Would be great to see his lovely wife Sara called on to take the lines.


Muscle Hill — Self Indulgent
$100,000 Lexington Selected $167,975, 3, 1:52
J. Leblanc, David Anderson and John Fodera
Steve H. Stewart and David W. Miller
Tony Alagna / Andrew McCarthy

Don’t throw him under a bus. He has no bad lines at all lifetime. In his loss to Greenshoe he did all the heavy lifting and still hung game for second timed in 1:51; an excellent effort. Last week’s loss at 2-5 was not horrid either. Opting to stay away from the front end he came with a rush late and trotted in 1:52 last quarter :26.3


Muscle Hill — Naga Morich
$270,000 Sweden , $621,307 2, 1:52.1
Courant Inc
AB Svensk Reklamfinas
Marcus Melander / Tim Tetrick

Most of the last two months he was a certain second to the top choice, but my love has withered. He definitely has the talent, but just like his still undefeated stablemate Gimpanzee, I am not sure he has the raw speed to beat my top choice.


Chapter Seven — Steamy Windows
$170,000 Harrisburg $753,046 3, 1:52.4
Courant Inc and SRF Stable
Order By Stable
Marcus Melander / Brian Sears

I like him more as time goes on and the fact he is undefeated means nothing to me. Many colts have been awesome on the Sires Stake level and had difficulty conquering open stakes horses. Swandre The Giant is a perfect example. Never won a race outside the state of Indiana until Ron Burke pulled his shoes and added Lasix. Don’t get me wrong, he is a better than good horse and will be a very short price going to post, but in my heart he can’t beat my top choice. It will be interesting to see who is named to drive him.


Kadabra — Pure Ivory
$110,000 Harrisburg $350,730 3, 1:53.1
Determination, Steve Stewart
Luc Blais / Bob McClure

This is truly a mystery, keeping this colt on the other side of the border. Even my Hall Of Fame buddies Blair Burgess and Bob MacIntosh when they were going to the big dance made at least one appearance at the Meadowlands in preparation. Far be it from me to criticize a fellow trainer, they all have their quirks and idiosyncrasies, and racing for $1,000,000 one would hope the connections have guessed right.
It would be sad if they have decided not to bring this well-bred, talented colt to the U.S. next week. It won’t be long till we know that answer.


Swan For All — Adagio
$17,000 Indy resold privately $417,568, 1:51.3
J & T Silva, Howard Taylor, Diamond Creek Racing, DM Stables
Ron Burke / David Miller

Another head scratcher. Never entered my picture until his fabulous first-over charge in the Dancer, totally overpowering his division. That’s the good news. The time was nice, but not Greenshoe nice. The bad news is that pulling his shoes and racing on Lasix could both be off the table on Hambletonian Day. For sure he can’t race on Lasix , and the track is usually tight as can be by the time the second heat goes. Not exactly inviting to a barefoot attempt. Let’s look at the positive side, maybe they did something else that turned the colt around, maybe they put him on some other type of bleeding medication that works for him. The connections are very smart and have been here before, a good performance is not out of the question. Remember second money is almost a quarter-of-a-million dollars. My guess is that if they think he can’t be good without Lasix they won’t enter him in the race. He was entered in the Reynolds last night.


Muscle Hill — Passageway
$80,000 Lexington Selected $254,367, 2, 1:51.4
Brittany Farm LLC, Christina Takter, John D Fielding and Herb Liverman
Brittany Farms LLC
Nancy Johansson / Marcus Johansson

Just when I thought Nancy had the key to this talented colt, the wheels fell off. He has shown flashes both at 2 and 3, but seems to regress quickly. I doubt it is mental. I would take a guess it is a soundness problem. It comes and goes too often. He won the Reynolds last night by more than five lengths in 1:50.2.


Father Patrick — Sheer Soul
$27,000 Lexington Selected $65,527 3, 1:52.1
Stable Why Not
Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz
Ake Svanstedt / Dexter Dunn

Big ,big mile for the colt and Dexter Dunn last week first up in 1:51.4/ :26.3. Colt is on the improve at the perfect time. Good looking card against softer competition, but truly stepped it up a notch in the Geers defeating Pilots Discretion and coming within a neck of stablemate Marseille. This could be Dexter Dunn’s ticket to the big dance, but a driver will still be needed on Gimpanzee. Stay tuned…


Trixton — Sheena’s Shadow
$130,000 Lexington Selected $63,333, 3, 1:53
Knutsson Trotting, SRF Stable
James G Wilhitre, Jr.
Ake Svanstedt / Ake Svanstedt

Another Svanstedt turn around at the right time. Like the colt above, this one, too, was off the radar racing lesser NW types. Last week, he put in an honest effort finishing second to Green Manalishi in the Geers. I suspect Ake wasn’t as sure about this one. Finished eighth in the Reynolds at the Meadowlands last night.


Muscle Hill — Cedar Dove
Homebred $170,517, 3, 1:51.1
Fashion Farms LLC
Fashion Farms LLC
Jim Campbell / Dexter Dunn

No brainer went from most likely 25-1 in the open to 6-5 in the Oaks.


Trixton — Struck By Lindy
$80,000 Lexington Selected $436,825 3, 1:52.3
Mel Hartman, Little E LLC, RAW Equine
White Birch Farm
R. Nifty Norman / David Miller

Made the smart move to the Oaks.

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