For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Hambo Day Thoughts

It's the morning after so it is time to look back at Hambletonian Day 2016.

Most Annoying Moment - This goes to the post position draw for the Hambletonian Final.  In the grandstand there was so much noise you couldn't here the post position draw. . Of course, I couldn't see the names of the horses as they posted them on the chart (more about this next).  After the draw was complete they showed a close up of the post position assignments for a grand total of, four seconds.  Really?  Why bother showing a close up of the board at all?  Thanks to DRF Harness who posted online the post positions for the second heat.

Stupidest Move of the Day - That goes to me for forgetting to take Benadryl along with me for if I did, my eyes wouldn't have been so blurred in which case the Most Annoying Moment may not have taken place.

When the Heck is Betfair Going to Offer In-Play Wagering on the Exchange Moment - That easily goes to the US Pacing Championship when Wiggle It Jiggelit and Always Be Miki played a little bit of hardball in the first quarter.  At that point I sensed it was going to be upset time.  By the half, watching Shamballa follow Freaky Feet Pete I knew who the winner was.  Unfortunately, Betfair at present only allows in-play wagering on the runners since harness racing is new to them on the exchange.  They claim it is coming.  Well, they are at least one day too late as far as I am concerned.

Saint of Hambletonian Day - That goes to my wife who, doesn't care for 'improving the breed'.  She enjoys going to Goshen, but otherwise, could care less but she knows how much I enjoy it.  But every year, we're in the parking lot by 9:30 in the morning, sitting in the seats till the first race.  Is willingly the concession line person, well you get it.  The Pope may not agree, but she is 'The Saint of Hambletonian Day'.  When do I tell her there is a need for her to be the 'Saint of the Breeders Crown'?

Handicapping Grade - C.  Good enough that no one can fairly tell me 'You Suck'.  On the plus side, I did pick the top three in the Hambletonian Final before the eliminations were even contested.  The Hambletonian Daily Double for $43 was a good call.  On the minus side is the only good hit was the Oaks-Hambo Double; the other hits were somewhat anemic.

Now onto some of the racing highlights:

A new all-time world record for the fastest pacing mile was not in the cards for the US Pacing Championship but it certainly was an exciting race with Shamballa getting the perfect trip to score a victory in 1:47.1.

In defeat, Wiggle It Jiggleit showed his gameness to finish second after being put through a tough first quarter as Teague decided to put the sting to Always B Miki which cost both of the horses a chance at victory. One has to wonder if the grind of the big three ( add Freaky Feet Pete to the troika) has taken its toll.  Regardless, it was a brilliantly driven race by Scott Zeron which shows why he was the leading driver of the meet.

/It wouldn't be a Hambletonian Day without Jimmy Takter in the winners circle and there he was, in the Hambletonian Oaks with All The Time being the first to cross the finish line in 1:52.1 after going an overland route .She was clearly the best horse out there on Saturday.

The Hambletonian was an exciting event and the second heat showed it as Marion Marauder toik a Hambletonian many had conceded to Southwind Frank.  While the Hambletonian was not to be Southwind's race, the 2yo champion didn't go down with out a fight, including a last minute rush up the rail from third to the lead before losing the final in a photo finish to Marion Marauder who was content to lay back in fifth in the early part of the race.  Once they got to a :56 half, Marauder launched her attack on the outside to brush up into contention before having to grind it around the final turn where open road made it clear sailing.

Southwind Frank did go into a break just past the wire so his connections may be wondering if he would have been the winner if he stayed flat a little bit longer.  This is not to take anything away from the Hambo winner as he was the best on the first Saturday of August.

Scott Zeron, the leading driver of the meet won only three races on closing day but they were profitable as he won the elimination and final of the Hambletonian along with the US Pacing Championship.  Bjorn Goop who came in from Europe to drive had three drives for the day with his best finish being a second place finish in the Peter Haughton with Victor Gio It; his two other drives ending up with last place finishes due to breaking horses.

The combined all-sources handle was $5.6 million for the sixteen race card which was pretty good being there were no Jackpot Super Hi-Five jackpots to go after.  On-track attendance was 20,132, roughly 1,800 fewer than attended last year.

Harness racing at the Meadowlands resumes in early September with two weekends of racing before the runners return for their 14 day turf meet.  The trotters then return in late October.


Anonymous said...

I disagree that handle was pretty good. A better description is disappointing and bordering on horrendous.

Here's the handle for recent years as reported by The Hambletonian Society and other racing websites:

2015 $7,788,195+ (not including some European money)
2014 $8.700,000+ (not including some European money)
2013 $7,660,205
2012 $7,837,627

This year's handle falls far below the others, jackpot payoff or not. 2016 may also be the first time 16 races were offered. Something turned off bettors. I'm sure Jeff Gural and his staff will be looking for answers.

Pacingguy said...


This year there was no Super Hi-Five wagers which cost them at least $800,000 (the wager had $746,000 wagered on Meadowlands Pace night for the late Hi-Five which had a must-payout pool). This needs to be considered.

Certainly a significant drop off from last year but when you look at the handle in light of the handles the later part of the year, not exactly atrocious.

Count said...

If there were 6000 people there, there was a lot! 20,132??? Where did Gural come up with that number?

Pacingguy said...

The one time of the year there are paid admissions.