A dozen notes on the Hambletonian Oaks

by Bob Heyden

1. Five of this year’s 10 Hambletonian Oaks finalists are out of a Muscle Hill dam. In 2022, the top two in the Hambletonian were out of a Muscle Hill dam.

2. Since 1990, the following drivers have won their debut in the Oaks:

2019 Simon Allard (When Doves Cry)

2008 Andy Miller (Creamy Mimi)

2007 Tim Tetrick (Danae)

1998 Luc Ouellette (Fern)

1996 Wally Hennessey (Moni Maker)

1994 Mal Burroughs (Gleam)

1992 Bruce Riegle (Worldly Woman)

Will James MacDonald (driving Righteous Resolve) join the list this year?

3. Jim Campbell won the Hambletonian and Oaks last year, but was not in either elim this year.

4. Ake Svanstedt, 64, driving Bond looks to tie Berndt Lindstedt as the oldest driver to win the Oaks. Lindstedt was also 64 when he guided Marita’s Victory to Oaks’ winner’s circle in 2000.

5. Twenty one of the 52 Oaks-winning caretakers were female.

6. Walner Payton was a $510,000 yearling, bought by the man who campaigned Walner in 2016-2017, Ken Jacobs. Walner was forced to retire after winning both starts in 2017, right before the Hambletonian. Those two miles stood up as the two fastest 3-year-old trotting miles of 2017.

7. Steve Stewart bred Walner Payton, as well as Trixton, Forbidden Trade and the 2015 Hambletonian favorite Mission Brief. Two Hambletonian winners and a Hambletonian fave.

8. Walner, Tactical Landing, and Resolve are the three sires who are in both the Hambletonian and the Oaks.

9. Instagram Model is a sister to King Of The North the 2022 Breeders Crown 3YOCT winner. Trainer Anne Stoebe won her debut in the Jim Doherty last year with Instagram Model and this year she tries to complete the debut double in the Oaks.

10. Todd McCarthy who was not in the 2023 Hambletonian elims, lit up the board again with a 36-1 Oaks elimination score with Heart On Fire. He became just the second driver in The Meadowlands’ history last year on Hambletonian Day to have two $100 horses on the same card, Cool Papa Bell and Kobes Gigi. Cat Manzi did it on Aug. 3, 1991 with Hundred Kisses and Fake Left.

11. Can James MacDonald join Brian Sears and George Brennan (2011) as the only drivers to win the Hambletonian and the Oaks on the same day? Sears did it twice in 2009 and 2013, while Brennan did it in 2011.

12. Walner looks to win the Hambletonian Oaks with each of his first two crops. Last year he had Fashion Schooner.