By Rich Fisher, USTA Senior Correspondent — Michael Andrew has produced some standouts in his 20-plus years as a breeder, such as Dan Patch Award-winner Obrigado and millionaires Little Brown Fox and Likeabatoutahell, but he is still hoping for a Hambletonian champion.
Could this be the year? According to the morning line, perhaps it can.
Andrew, a Gorham, Maine resident, and Hunterton Farm’s Steve Stewart are co-breeders of Rebuff, the 9-5 favorite for Saturday’s $1 million Hambletonian, the sport’s premier event for 3-year-old trotters, at The Meadowlands. Andrew owns Rebuff’s mother, Meucci Madness, and he and Stewart are lessees and share the breeding credit for her foals.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Andrew, an 84-year-old retired University of New Hampshire professor. “He looks great. I think he’s an exceptional little horse. He’s not that big, but he’s got the attitude, he’s got the good gait, and he’s got a lot of speed.
“I just hope he gets a good race. There are some good horses in there, so it will be interesting.”
Lucas Wallin, who trains Rebuff, purchased the colt for $200,000 at the 2020 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. Wallin shares ownership of Rebuff, a 2021 Breeders Crown champ and earner of $573,670 lifetime, with Kjell Magne Andersen and Pieter Delis.
“He was a nice little horse, well balanced and very athletic,” Andrew said. “He brought a decent price.”
In looking at the horse’s strong points, the breeder likes the way Rebuff can finish.
“He’s got quick late speed,” Andrew said. “At the last minute, he can just fly. Tim Tetrick does a great job driving him, so that helps. He’s got a great driver and a great trainer; all that helps. I’m sure hoping he does well and he’s going to make a really great sire.”
Andrew has bred a couple horses to reach the Hambletonian. He thought the horse with the best shot at winning was Little Brown Fox, who was favored in his 2012 elimination but made a break and did not advance.
“Little Brown should have won the Hambo,” Andrew said. “He was real fast.”
The horse was a half-brother to Donatomite, who in 2015 was third in his elimination and ninth in the final.
Other prominent horses bred by Andrew include Grand Circuit winner Chilitodayhotamale and Rebuff’s half-sister Non Stick, who was a two-time New York Sire Stakes champion. Stewart also shared credit with Non Stick.
Andrew’s partnership with Stewart came about when he went to Kentucky to check out some horses eight years ago.
“He said he would take a couple of mares,” Andrew said. “I’ve got five mares down there and he takes care of them, and we split the money from the foals. He’s a real good salesman and I’m not, so I thought that would work out OK.”
Andrew has five mares in Maine and breeds two or three to race outside of the state. He also has five mares in Kentucky with Stewart and two stallions in Maine — Boy Band, father of Obrigado, and To The Hilt.
Although he has given up teaching, Andrew does not consider himself retired with all the work he still does.
“Running the farm is not exactly retirement,” he said. “We’ve got quite a few horses and a few sheep. It’s a big farm to keep up.”
The Hambletonian is race 15 on Saturday, with a 6:35 p.m. (EDT) post time, at The Meadowlands. Following is a brief look at many of the remaining stakes on the card. All odds are morning line.
Race 3 – $145,000 Dr. John R. Steele Memorial for older female trotters
Bella Bellini, Atlanta, and When Dovescry — all Hambletonian Day stars in the past — return for the Steele. Bella Bellini, the 8-5 favorite, won the 2021 Hambletonian Oaks. Atlanta, who is 9-5, won the 2018 Hambletonian and last year’s Steele. When Dovescry, 7-2, won the 2019 Oaks and 2020 Steele.
Atlanta, who has earned $3.25 million in her career, won the trio’s most recent encounter, stopping the clock in 1:50 last week in a leg of the Miss Versatility Series. Bella Bellini was third, snapping a four-race win streak, and When Dovescry was sixth.
Race 5 – $337,000 Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters
Kilmister, the 2-1 favorite, won last week’s single Haughton elimination by 2-1/2 lengths over Upstaged in 1:54.1. Oh Well, the 4-1 second choice, won the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship on July 22 and his connections accepted a bye to the Haughton final. Kilmister, Upstaged, and Oh Well all are trained by Marcus Melander.
Race 7 – $92,300 Shady Daisy for 3-year-old female pacers
Mistletoe Shalee and Tompkins-Geers winner Max Contract brings a three-race win streak to the race for trainer Julie Miller and is the 9-5 favorite. Boudoir Hanover, second to Max Contract in her last two starts, is the 7-2 second choice.
Race 8 – $258,300 Cane Pace for 3-year-old male pacers
The second jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown finds Meadowlands Pace champ Beach Glass the 9-5 favorite. The Brent MacGrath trainee finished second last week in the Adios. Pleaseletmeknow, the winner of the Triple Crown’s first leg, the Messenger Stakes, was not eligible to the Cane.
Race 9 – $173,000 Lady Liberty for older female pacers
Test Of Faith, the 2021 Horse of the Year and 1:47 winner of the Dorothy Haughton Memorial on July 16 at The Big M, is the 8-5 favorite in a field of 11. She has finished no worse than second in eight of nine races this year, winning five, for trainer Brett Pelling. Defending champ Lyons Sentinel, a two-time Dan Patch Award winner who won the Clara Barton on July 25 at Plainridge, is the 7-2 second choice.
Race 10 – $278,000 Sam McKee Memorial for older male pacers
Rockyroad Hanover, who won a division of the Roll With Joe in 1:46.2 on July 2 at The Meadowlands, and then finished second twice to history’s fastest pacer Bulldog Hanover, is the 3-1 favorite. For a preview written by Clyde Hirt Sports Journalism Workshop participant Claudine Smith for DRF.com, click here.
Race 13 – $355,000 Jim Doherty Memorial for 2-year-old female trotters
Mambacita, a winner on the Grand Circuit and New Jersey Sire Stakes final runner-up, received a bye to the final and is the 3-1 favorite for trainer Tony Alagna. Stablemate Royal Filly, who was second to 15-1 upsetter Una Madonna in the single Doherty elimination, is the 7-2 second choice followed by Una Madonna at 4-1.
Race 14 – $279,000 John Cashman Memorial for older trotters
Alrajah One IT, 2-for-2 since arriving from Europe for trainer Ake Svanstedt, is the 9-5 favorite. He enters off a track-record 1:50.3 performance in the Spirit Of Massachusetts at Plainridge on July 25. Stablemate Ecurie D DK, who won the Cutler Memorial in 1:49.1 on May 21 at The Big M, is the 2-1 second choice.
Racing begins at noon (EDT) Saturday for the stakes-filled Hambletonian Day card. Watch from 12:30-5 p.m. on Fox Sports 2 (FS2) with coverage including the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks at 4:48 p.m. Watch from 6-7 p.m. on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) with coverage including the $1 million Hambletonian at 6:35 p.m. For free TrackMaster programs of every Meadowlands card, visit the track’s website here.
— Ken Weingartner also contributed to this story