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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

You Got to be in it to Win it

The Hambletonian Oaks drew eleven entries this year, meaning there will be no eliminations; all eleven horses will meet the starter next Saturday.  With the dominance of the Takter trio, there is talk not enough horses will enter the Hambletonian next week, meaning the Hambletonian could be a one race dash for the cash.  Some will attribute the lack of entries on the dominance of Takter's stable but there was a time when owners practically died to have a horse to enter in the Hambletonian, if nothing else to be part of the experience.  If there was even a chance of picking up a check, they showed up in the entry box.  I suspect if we don't have eliminations, it is more likely due to the feeling you can't beat the big boys.

Granted, the Takter trio of Father Patrick, Nunzio, and Trixton looks very tough with Father Patrick being the pre-race favorite but there have been upsets in the past, perhaps the most famous was in an elimination when Delvin G Hanover lit up the tote board at $126 for the win in the 1984 classic.  Let's not forget Shiaway St Pat, the Michigan bred gelding who had his moment in the rain-soaked 1981 Hambletonian; the debut of the classic at the Meadowlands.  The point is if you go to the gate you have a shot; staying in the stall doesn't.

Ironically, the biggest threat to the Takter trio may be the fact they will scare away competition, but not enough.  If 11 to 14 horses drop in the box, the second tier comes into play and with no choosing of post positions, the possibility of drawing into the second tier could be a nightmare to whomever gets the backseat. .

Meanwhile, in the John Cashman Jr., Intimidate, the Maple Leaf  Trot winner is racing in the first elimination while Sebastian K will be racing in the second elimination.  If both advance to the final, we may be seeing a rematch of the Maple Leaf Trot combatants on the first Saturday in August.

This Friday, Cat Manzi is being honored at the Meadowlands.  Granted, it has been a while since  Manzi was a factor at the East Rutherford oval, but in the Meadowlands prime, Manzi was one of the prominent drivers there and afterwards he was the successor to Herve Filion at Freehold.  Here's hoping he gets a proper send-off.

A theme of late is the question of stables starting multiple horses in a single race so you can imagine a chuckle I got when I see the thoroughbreds are having a problem in Mauritius.  It would appear they are having lots of problems regarding integrity there.  What had me chuckling was an edict from the Prime Minister, including this gem:

Any stable will now no more be allowed to have more than two horses lined up together for one race.

One could imagine why this decision was made.

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