The early talk before the Holiday Road's miscue in his last start of the year at The Red Mile had him being the early bird favorite for next year’s Hambletonian. After today's races, two other horses have staked their claims to be definite contenders for next year's Hambletonian.
In his third lifetime start, Winning Fireworks came from next to last to move three wide past the three quarter pole and raced four wide down the stretch with an impressive stretch run to win the race in 1;56.4. What makes this race more impressive is he was able to run the field down off of relatively pedestrian fractions (:29.4, :58.4, 1:28.3). Something to consider is in his last qualifier on September 15, Winning Fireworks beat a horse named Holiday Road. According to Ron Pierce, Winning Fireworks is being turned out for the year after today's race. Looks like Noel Daley wanted to get a few races under Winning Fireworks’ belt to see what he has. Explosive Matter, the best trotting colt after Muscle Hill, was also a later bloomer in his two year old season and followed a similar path. While things can change before next year, if he stays healthy it looks like Winning Fireworks just punched his ticket for the 2010 Hambletonian.
In the ninth race, Lucky Chucky has also shown he is one of the main contenders for next year's Hambletonian winning easily in 1;56.2 on an off track; now having seven wins in eight starts with his only loss to Holiday Road in the Peter Haughton at the Meadowlands. After brushing off a slow first quarter to assume the lead, Lucky Chucky was able to control the pace the rest of the way to win with rain slowed fractions (:30.4, :59.3, 1:29). Lucky Chucky may be the ticket to another Hambo victory by John Campbell.
My guess is one of these two horses will be standing in the winner's circle at next year's Hambletonian.