by Bob Heyden
Michelle and Al Crawford had their greatest day ever being part of the winner’s circles for three major stakes — the Hambletonian (Ramona Hill), Hambletonian Oaks (Sorella) and Cane Pace (Tall Dark Stranger).
Caviart Farms was well represented on Hambletonian Day, winning twice on the card highlighted by Tall Dark Stranger in the Cane Pace.
Weaver Bruscemi were rewarded twice on Hambletonian Day, and the Courant Stable has been a major presence as Marcus Melander got money in the Hambletonian final for his fourth straight year.
Alagna scratches seven-year itch
The seven year itch has been scratched. Tony Alagna became the first American-born trainer to win the Hambletonian since George Ducharme did it in 2013 with Royalty For Life. That was also the last time a favorite won.
Andy McCarthy’s massive day
Andy McCarthy scored five victories (and $840,000 in purses) on the day — Ramona Hill (Hambletonian), Darlene Hanover (Jim Doherty), Reflect With Me (Shady Daisy), Caviart Eva (Continentalvictory) and Angers Bayama (overnight)
Yannick Gingras won four races, Brian Sears won two, Dexter Dunn won two and Tim Tetrick, David Miller and Matt Kakaley won a race apiece.
Odd On winners for the day (7):
$2.20 Reflect With Me
$2.80 Ramona Hill (first Hambletonian favorite to win since Royalty For Life 2013 ($3.60)
$2.60 Tall Dark Stranger
$2.80 Shartin N
Post 1 was shut out.
Post 3 is still winless in the Hambletonian in the 39 years it has been contested at the Meadowlands.
Betting on the Hambletonian itself was $845,469. Most popular was the Exacta Pool at $214,080 and then Win Betting at $211,157. The total, all-source North American handle on the 16-race card was $5,730,615, by far the highest total in the industry in 2020.
Major stakes winning trainers
Brett Bittle — Doherty Memorial
Ron Burke — McKee consolation with Filibuster Hanover
Mark Harder — Peter Haughton Memorial
Jim King, Jr. — Lady Liberty
Marcus Melander — Cashman
Chris Ryder — McKee Memorial
Nancy Takter — Hambletonian Oaks and Cane Pace
Breeders who won on Hambletonian Day
James Avritt, Sr. — Tall Dark Stranger
Brittany Farms (2) — Bettors Wish and Reflect With Me
Crawford Farms — Ramona Hill
Fair Winds Farm — Zenith Stride
Hanover Shoe Farms (2) — Filibuster Hanover and Darlene Hanover
Order By Stable — Gimpanzee
William Weaver, III — When Dovescry
Both ends of the spectrum
Can you ever remember a driver winning at 3-5 and 87-1 on the same Card? Brian Sears just did it with Gimpanzee as the public choice and Zenith Stride for Mark Harder (bombs away) in the Peter Haughton.
Sears also passed $200 million in his career on Hambletonian Day. John Campbell passed the same milestone in 2001 in the Breeders Crown and Tim Tetrick in the 2018 Breeders Crown.
Muscle Hill and Chapter Seven… any questions?
The 2009 HOY and the 2012 HOY — both with 1:50.1 Meadowlands lifetime marks — dominated on the siring front on Saturday at the Big M. Muscle Hill had a record 28 entered, and captured the Hambletonian and the Oaks- — again — with Ramona Hill and Sorella, respectively.
He first did it in 2016 with Marion Marauder and All The Time.
The Oaks win was the fifth in a row — unprecedented in Oaks or Hambletonian history. Muscle Hill also captured the Peter Haughton with longshot Zenith Stride. Don’t forget the fastest trotter on the entire card was by Muscle Hill’s daughter When Dovescry (1:50) taking the Steele Memorial.
Chapter Seven won the Cashman with Gimpanzee with Atlanta, his 2018 Trotter of the Year, going off as the second favorite. Darlene Hanover is a daughter of Chapter Seven, and runner-up Material Girl a Muscle Hill. Reverse that in the Oaks when Muscle Hill won it again, but…yes… Chapter Seven’s Hypnotic AM overcame some terrible 5/8ths cover to get second money.
Ready Cash debuted in style second and third in the Hambletonian with Ready For Moni and Back Of The Neck, respectively.
Not favored… this time
For the first time at age 4 Bettors Wish was not favored. He was let go at 3-1 and he responded with a 1:47.1 victory. This after hitting the half in :52.1 and withstanding serious pressure from Dancin Lou. Remember it was that duo on the wire 1-2 in the 2019 Breeders Crown. Andy McCarthy was a favorite son on this memorable day. He won with three of the four favorites he drove.
The richest 3YO in the Hambletonian field at $690,040 going in, Amigo Volo had bad luck that likely cost him a board spot stuck behind a tiring Threefiftytwo at the 5/8ths.
Dovescry’s ownership comes from four different jurisdictions: Quebec, Indiana, New York and Ohio.