By Ken Weingartner, USTA Media — Rebuff, who won one of last week’s two Hambletonian Stakes eliminations and is unbeaten in three starts this season, drew post one for Saturday’s $1 million final and was made the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the classic race for 3-year-old trotters at The Meadowlands.
Jiggy Jog S, who won the other elimination and is one of two fillies in the race, drew post five and was made the 4-1 third choice. Yonkers Trot champion Joviality S, the remaining female starter, got post two and was made the 7-2 second choice.
Elimination winners drew for posts one through five. The remaining horses followed in an open draw.
A filly has won two of the past four editions of the Hambletonian, with Atlanta capturing the trophy in 2018, and 15 overall in 96 years.
This is the second time in three years that two fillies advanced to the Hambletonian final. Ramona Hill and Sister Sledge faced the boys in 2020, with Ramona Hill winning both her elimination and the final. Sister Sledge finished eighth in the final.
The Hambletonian is the middle jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown, between the Yonkers Trot and Kentucky Futurity, which will be held Oct. 9 at Lexington’s Red Mile.
Rebuff, who won last year’s Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male trotters, has seven victories in 14 lifetime starts and $573,670 in purses. He brings a six-race win streak, dating back to last October, to the Hambletonian final and will have Tim Tetrick in the sulky. Tetrick won the 2012 Hambletonian with Market Share.
A son of Muscle Hill-Meucci Madness, Rebuff is trained by Lucas Wallin, who is making his first appearance in the Hambletonian as a trainer. Last year, he drove Cuatro De Julio in the race, finishing seventh.
Rebuff won his Hambletonian elimination by 1-1/4 lengths over Fast As The Wind in 1:52.2. The colt is owned by Kjell Magne Andersen, Pieter Delis, and Wallin.
“I couldn’t be happier with him,” Wallin said. “He came out of the race super good. We’re looking forward to Saturday.
“It’s going to be a nice and easy week for him. He jogged a couple of times here and he’s going to train tomorrow. Then after that just relax and enjoy. This is the race we all want to win. I’ve been following it since I was 12 or 13 years old. It’s a dream come true.”
Jiggy Jog S, a daughter of Walner-Hot Mess Hanover, won her elimination by a head over Temporal Hanover in 1:52.2. Joviality S was third, beaten by a neck.
This year, Jiggy Jog S has four wins and two seconds in six races. Lifetime, she has won six of 17 starts, hit the board an additional eight times, and earned $460,556. The filly, owned by Jorgen Sparredal Inc., has won three consecutive starts.
Jiggy Jog S is trained by Ake Svanstedt, who won last year’s Hambletonian with Captain Corey and in 2017 with Perfect Spirit. Dexter Dunn drove her in the elimination.
“The owner wanted to go in the Hambletonian,” Svanstedt said. “He said he would never have a chance to have a horse in the Hambletonian anymore because he’s in Sweden and he’s just buying fillies in the sales. He has bought some fillies every year because he wants to have them as broodmares. He doesn’t buy colts.
“So, he made the decision,” Svanstedt continued, adding with a laugh, “And I’m happy for that now. Now we are in the Hambletonian again. It would be nice (to win again).”
Joviality S is attempting to become only the third filly to win two jewels of the Trotting Triple Crown, which began in 1955. The two to accomplish the feat were Continentalvictory in 1996 (Yonkers Trot and Hambletonian) and Emily’s Pride in 1958 (Hambletonian and Kentucky Futurity).
Trained by Marcus Melander and driven by three-time Hambletonian-winner Brian Sears, Joviality S has won six of seven races this year and 15 of 19 lifetime. The homebred daughter of Chapter Seven-Pasithea Face S has earned $1.26 million for owner Courant Inc.
“I thought she raced great,” Melander said about Joviality S in her elimination, which she started from post 10. “From the 10-hole, it was a tough first half, :55.2, and the track was a little deep. It was a fast first half, even if the third quarter was a little slower. She got outsprinted. They came home in :27 flat, and Jiggy Jog was just a little faster.
“Brian said he was super happy with her. If Brian is happy with her, then I’m happy with her.”
Joviality S is one of three Hambletonian finalists for Melander. She is joined by Temporal Hanover and Periculum.
The Hambletonian will be race 15 on Saturday’s card. Post time will be approximately 6:35 p.m.
$1 million Hambletonian final
Post, Driver, Trainer, Morning Line
1. Rebuff, Tim Tetrick, Lucas Wallin, 9-5
2. Joviality S, Brian Sears, Marcus Melander, 7-2
3. Fast As The Wind, Dexter Dunn, Tony Alagna, 8-1
4. Keg Stand, David Miller, Nancy Takter, 10-1
5. Jiggy Jog S, Dexter Dunn, Ake Svanstedt, 4-1
6. Cool Papa Bell, Brian Sears, Jim Campbell, 15-1
7. Temporal Hanover, Orjan Kihlstrom, Marcus Melander, 8-1
8. King Of The North, Mark MacDonald, Ray Schnittker, 15-1
9. Periculum, Mattias Melander, Marcus Melander, 15-1
10. Looks Like Moni, Andrew McCarthy, Nancy Takter, 15-1