It’s The Hambletonian! Harness racing’s signature race takes centre stage today at The Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey and it looks like a very competitive race with numerous possibilities. Also featured in the Hambletonian Oaks is multiple World Champion Check Me Out who takes on the red-hot Maven in what shapes up to be a fantastic dash. The tremendous action does not stop there as this stacked card also features The U.S Pacing championship for older pacing stallions and geldings, The Lady Liberty for Open pacing mares, The Nat Ray for Open older male trotters, The Woodrow Wilson for 2YO Pacing colts, The Merrie Annabelle for 2YO Pacing filles, The Peter Haughton Memorial for 2YO trotting colts, The Sweetheart Final for 2YO pacing fillies and several other stakes.
Later in the “DriveOn Bets” section we will list our wagers for the card in cluding both Pick 4 bets. First, let’s take a look at The “Hambo” from the rail out.
1. Uncle Peter (Ron Pierce/Jimmy Takter) - This Cantab Hall colt is on a roll coming into the race, having won 3 straight including a fairly easy two-move win in his elimination win last week. This horse is obviously talented, but, we think he’s a beatable favorite and wouldn’t be shocked if he broke stride when facing pressure.
2. Market Share (Tim Tetrick/Linda Toscano) - This son of Revenue S put it all together last week and parlayed a pocket trip into an easy elimination win. Although not one of our top choices today, this horse can start quickly and finish fast and definitely merits respect.
3. Knows Nothing (Jody Jamieson/Jeff Gillis) - One thing this son of top Ontario stallion does know is how to win! He’s 7 for 8 lifetime and looked dynamite last week splitting horses early in the stretch and pulling away, using a lethal 27.1 final ¼ burst to put his foes away. This colt has done everything right, comes into the race fresh and is our pick to win it all.
4. Archangel (Jim Morill Jr/Peter Arrigenna) This Credit Winner colt came into last week’s elimination with an impressive skein of wins and took plenty of action last week but was passed in mid-stretch by Market Share. Although he isn’t one of our top picks, I have to think if you liked him last week, there’s no reason not to stick with him today when the price is going to go up.
5. My MVP - This son of Cantab Hall fired home in 27.2 in last week’s elim, passing 3 horses in the lane to qualify for the big dance. He has definite possibilities to hit the ticket at long odds and spice the exotics up.
6. Prestidigitator - (Sylvain Filion/R. Dustin Jones) - Another son of the great Ontario stallion Kadabra, this colt seems to be the “buzz” horse as many people are calling him to upset at long odds - which may actually cause him to be overbet relative to his actual chances. In his defence, Prestidigitator had a crazy parked-out trip and still managed to close to third and qualify for the Final. While a similar trip may get him a piece of the pie, we don’t see him as being fast enough or laying close enough to win the race.
7. Guccio - (Jimmy Takter drives and trains) This Yankee Glide colt is our longshot special and will, at the very least, be boxed in the exacta with Knows Nothing. Guccio was trotting up a storm in the final ¼ last week but unfortunately lost a ton of ground while Knows Nothing was cutting the corner and splitting horses to win. Guccio will be coming late and any mid-race duelling or lead changes improve his chances dramatically.
8. Stormin Normand - (Dave Palone/Jim Campbell) - The Broadway Hall progeny disappointed as favorite in his elim last week but was hung first-over which isn’t his preferred trip. If he can blast off the gate when the wings fold open and get into the pocket early, he has upset potential.
9. Money On My Mind (Andy Miller/Julie Miller) - Another son of Cantab Hall, MOMM parlayed a quick start into a covered up trip which is unlikely today, although he could come late for a smaller share of the Superfecta.
10. Gym Tan Laundry (George Brennan/Noel Daley) - Gym Tan would be a rank outsider from an inner post; from the 10-hole, the son of Yankee Glide will likely be 10th at the ¼ and unlikely to mount any kind of a threat.
DriveOn’s choices for The Hambletonian:
1. #3 KNOWS NOTHING - Brings The Hambo north of the border.
2. #6 GUCCIO- Closes a ton down the lane to nail second
3. #1 UNCLE PETER - Favorite succumbs to pressure late, but holds third.
Let’s move on to the “DriveOn Bets” segment where unfortunately this week we will need to hit the imaginary ATM for a withdrawal as we’ve squandered the original $1,000 - so here’s where we stand after adding $1,000 to the kitty. Starting balance: $2,000 - Current balance: $1000
All our wagers will be made on the outstanding Hambletonian card where there appears to be some dominant favorites, but also some opportunities for upsets.
We’re going to kick it off in race 2 using #1 Androvette, which set a new life’s mark in 148.1 on top of #4 Drop The Ball and #5 Put On A Show in the exotics: $20 exacta 1/45; $5 tri 1/45/45
We’ll also try a $4 Pick 3 part-wheel 1/3,8/2
Moving to race # 4, we like #2 Sarandon Blue Chip a lot to turn the tables on heavy favorite #4 Rockaraound Sue. It was very evident that SBC who had breaking problems recently was babied around the track last week and she produced a gutsy uncovered back half to hold second. This Western Ideal filly produced a 150.3 mile in just her second lifetime start and will be turned loose today with $126K on the line, We’re going to use her on top in all exotics: $10 exacta 2-4; $5 exactas 2/3-7; $4 tri - 2/4/3-7, $2 tri 2/347/347; $1 Super 2/347/3457/3457 - Total-$58
Race 5: We’re taking a shot to beat the favorite #2 Nikki Beach with both the #8 Jerseylicious and #10 Shebestingin - $6 exacta box - 8-10; Total: $12.
Race 6 - We’re going to play two tickets on the early pick 4 singling two dominant- looking favorites in the first two legs, #5 Captaintreacherous in Race 6 (The Woodrow Wilson) and #4 To Dream On in Race 7 (The Merrie Annabelle). $1 Pick 4: 5/4/7/all - cost: $10; $2 Pick 4: 5/4/127/1238 - Cost: $24 - Total: $36
Race 8: We think the #7 My Man Can has a lot more ability than he showed in his debut where he finished a non-threatening 3rd. Let’s take a shot on him with $20WP and two $5 exacta boxes 1-7 and 2-7. Total: $60
Race 10: Back on his own stompin’ (trottin’?) grounds, #4 Chapter Seven is going to take a ton of wagering support. We feel his conqueror in The Maple Leaf Trot, #5 Mister Herbie, is the better horse and we are likely to gat a bit of an overlay on him today. $50 Win #5; total: $50.
Race 11: The Hambletonian Oaks: #2 Check Me Out likely would have been one of the favorites had she raced in the Hambo, but the connections chose the Oaks. That being said, we favor the horse to her right, #3 Maven, to pull a minor upset. She’s never been better and driver Gingras will keep the favorite in his sights. We’re going with a straight triactor of 3-2-1 here for $20 and two $10 Superfectas of 3/2/1/7 and 3/2/7/1. Total: $40
Race 12: THE HAMBLETONIAN: As discussed earlier, we favor the #3 Knows Nothing over #7 Guccio and will play two exactas here. $20 exacta 3-7; $10 exacta 7-3. We’re also trying a $1 ticket on the $100K guaranteed Pick 4: 1,3,7/1,8,11,12/5,6/8,10. Total: $78
Race 14: We like #6 Panther Hanover to turn the tables on what will be a strong favorite #6 Hurrikane Kingcole and will use the Panther in two late doubles; $20 double 5/8,10. Total: $40.
Today’s total wagers: $472
Starting balance: $2,000
Current Balance: $528
GOOD LUCK everyone and Happy Hambo!