Breaking down Hambletonian Day 2019

by Bob Heyden

Trainer Marcus Melander may not have won the Hambletonian, but he won the most money on the day — $839,947.50 in purses on the day. He won the Jim Doherty, both Hambletonian elims, was second, third and fifth in the Hambletonian final, fourth in the Hambletonian Oaks, fifth in the Cashman, fourth in a Hambletonian elim, and 2-3-4 in the Peter Haughton.

However, it was 13 years since the last time a trainer won both Hambletonian eliminations, but not the final. Trond Smedshammer did it with Here Comes Herbie in 2006 and Mr Pine Chip, but Glidemaster won the final and neither winner in the elimination got any money in the final.
Marcus Melander won his first Hambletonian elim back in 2017 with Enterprise who was third in the final.

This year, Melander’s slate reads:
Greenshoe 1-2
Gimpanzee 4-3
Green Manalishi 1-5

Only in America

The only U.S-born trainer to make the Hambletonian final was Tony Alagna with Pilot Discretion, who failed to get a check.

The only U.S-born trainer to make the Hambletonian Oaks was Ron Burke, who was eighth with Sonnet Grace.

Zeron U.S.-born trainers were in the 2019 Elitlopp, but of the 88 trotters on the Hambletonian Day card (counting the 10 in the Hambletonian final as separate — 78 trotters and 88 starters), 40 were trained by a conditioner born in Sweden.

Oh, Canada

The following all participated on the day that a Canadian driver and trainer won both the Hambletonian Oaks and the Hambletonian — Rene and Simon Allard in the Oaks and Luc Blais and Bob McClure in the Hambletonian. Jim Campbell was the Peter Haughton and Cashman winner. Fellow Canadians Yannick Gingras won the Vincennes, Casie Coleman was third with reigning HOY McWicked in the Sam McKee Memorial, Scott Zeron won the Cane Pace. Daniel Dube, John Bax and Benoit Baillargeon were also in action.

Peter Haughton jinx continues

In 2018, Don’t Let’em and Green Manalishis S were 1-2 in the Peter Haughton. In the Hambletonian final, Don’t Let’em made a break and finished last and Green Manalishi S was fifth.

Only two horses have won both the Peter Haughton and the Hambletonian in 38 years: Donato Hanover 2006-2007 and Muscle Hill 2008-2009.

The last time a Peter Haughton runner-up won the Hambletonian the following year was Mack Lobell in 1987.

Muscle Hill’s day — again!

Progeny of Muscle Hill has now won the Hambletonian or the Oaks six times in his first six crops. Muscle Hill-with four winners on Saturday and a 1-2-3 finish in the Jim Doherty, was the only trotting sire to win more than once. Captaintreacherous doubled up on the pacing side. Make it four straight Oaks wins for Muscle Hill. When Dovescry followed Manchego who followed Ariana G who followed All The Time.

Odds are… odds on

There were nine odds-on winners among the 11 winning favorites for the day.

Quartet to remember

The last four Horses of the Year all went down to defeat on Hambletonian Day:

In 2015, Wiggle It Jiggleit was fourth in the Cane Pace.

In 2016, Always B Miki was fourth in the U.S. Pacing Championship.

In 2017, Hannelore Hanover was fourth in the Steele Memorial.

In 2018, McWicked was second in the Sam McKee Memorial.

By a neck

The closest margin of the 16 contests was also the most popular one — a neck. Four winners won by that margin: Green Manalishi S in Hambletonian elim, Tall Drink Hanover in the Shady Daisy, Forbidden Trade in the Hambletonian final and Captain Crunch in the Cane Pace.


Six years ago, Kadabra’s daughter Bee A Magician won the Oaks, ran the table on the year (17-for-17) and was voted HOY. That was also the last time a horse has won on Hambletonian Day and was named HOY. This year, Forbidden Trade is a son of Kadabra, who himself was not Hambletonian eligible back in 2002 en route to the division title.

Did you know??

That Forbidden Trade has more wins (12) than Greenshoe has starts (11)?

Record day

Ten of the 24 Meadowlands track records were set on a Hambletonian Day card.

First time for everything

Sixteen years after his Hambletonian debut, Brian Sears finished second for the very first time.

Manchego a modern day Moni Maker?

Manchego has now won on Hambletonian Day at 2, 3 and 4-with a pair of 1:50 wins in the Oaks then the Steele Memorial. Moni Maker was an incredible 5-for-5 on Hambletonian Day, winning twice in 1996 in the Oaks, then again in the Nat Ray (Cashman) in 1997, 1998 and 2000. She missed in 1999 due to heart trouble. Her 2000 Nat Ray win was her last Meadowlands start and her lifetime mark of 1:52.1.

Youth served?

When Bob McClure, 28, won the Hambletonian, it was the fifth time a driver under 30 to accomplished this. Scott Zeron won at 27 and 29, Tommy Haughton at 25 and Harry Harvey at 29 way back in 1953.

Twenty-seven-year-old trainer Marcus Melander was 2-3-5 in the Hambletonian.

Hambletonian debuters

Bob McClure 2019 Forbidden Trade WINNER

Scott Zeron 2016 (first final) Marion Marauder WINNER!

Roger Hammer 2005 Vivid Photo WINNER!

Stefan Melander 2001 Scarlet Knight WINNER!

Eric Ledford 2002 Chip Chip Hooray WINNER!

Trevor Ritchie 2000 Yankee Paco WINNER! (NOTE: He’s the only one on this list to also debut and win his first Meadowlands Pace in 1987 with Frugal Gourmet).

What elim?

For the third straight year, the Hambletonian winner did not win his/her elimination.

2017 Perfect Spirit was third in his elim.

2018 Atlanta was second in his elim.

2019 Forbidden Trade was third in his elim.

Couple of longshots

Twice a better than 50-1 shot hit the board during Saturday’s Hambletonian Day card at the Meadowlands:

In the second race, 53-1 shot Mach N Cheese won for driver Simon Allard.

In the 15th race, 94-1 shot Semi Tough was third with Matt Kakaley.