Before we go further, here are the 'official' observations on the Hambletonian Oaks and Hambletonian eliminations. One thing for certain, is the finals promise to be exciting.
In the first Oaks elimination, what can you say about Check Me Out that hasn't been said already? She looked very good winning in 1:53.4 over the good track. The one thing thing which needs to be pointed out is the early fractions (:28.1, :57.1) were not overly challenging and it seemed like everyone was just waiting for Check Me Out to go by them. Otherwise, no one else in the race didn't impress me.
In the second elimination, Maven was the winner in a 1:52.4 racing a similar style as Check Me Out although it took the filly longer to get to the lead, probably the result of faster fractions (:27.2, :56.2, 1:24.2). Though the race was not as easy as Check Me Out's, once they got into the stretch, there really was no question as to who the winner was going to be. Other than Maven, you have to like Win Missy B who didn't fold that easily and figures to be a strong contender should the top two end up getting locked into a speed duel.
Out of the Oaks eliminations the horses to look at next week are Check Me Out , Maven, and Win Missy B. The others look like they will be racing for the balance of the purse.
In the first elimination of the Hambletonian, Uncle Peter was victorious in 1:53.3 and looks ready for the final with his two-move victory and hook up with Banker Volo past the half . While Uncle Peter was game, trainer Jimmy Takter is concerned about him should it rain Hambletonian Day. as the shoeing Uncle Peter is wearing doesn't do that well in the slop, A horse of interest in the race is Prestidigator who finished third after a horrible trip, including being three wide at the quarter and three-quarter pole. With any type of racing luck or battle on the front end, he can be a factor in the Hambletonian.
The second elimination, Knows Nothing shows he is a major threat to win it all with his victory in 1:53.1. It should be noted the colt was able to get a trip with the others roughing each other up. If Knows Nothing is able to get a similar trip next week, he may be there at the wire but I tend to doubt the race will go that way. Riccolo was a disappointment. While I didn't expect him to win the race, he doesn't appear to belong in this class. Stormin Normand, managed to earn the final invitation to the big dance despite the rough trip he went through.
Elimination number three went to Market Share in 1:52.2 by following the NYSS sensation Archangel. Market Share seems to be peaking at the right time while Archangel should have lost the 'NYSS horse' designation and be considered amongst the best in the country. Little Brown Fox made a speed break being used hard trying to get the lead at the quarter pole thus eliminating him from Hambletonian consideration.
While the Oaks is a two horse race with the edge to Check Me Out, the Hambletonian figures to be a competitive race. Even with the three elimination winners getting to choose their post position, there is no guarantee this year's Hambletonian is going to go to them. Horseplayers will benefit from a $200,000 guaranteed exacta pool on the Hambletonian final.