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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

HAMBO, OAKS ELIMINATIONS

By Ken Weingartner, for Hambletonian Society — Joviality S, who earlier this month became the first female to beat the boys in the Yonkers Trot since 1996, will begin her quest for the second jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown on Saturday when she starts from post 10 in the second of two $100,000 eliminations of the Hambletonian Stakes at The Meadowlands.

Twenty horses were entered in the Hambletonian, the sport’s premier event for 3-year-old trotters, requiring the two 10-horse eliminations. The top-five finishers from each elim advance to the $1 million final Aug. 6 at The Big M. Elim winners draw for post positions one through five followed by the remaining finalists receiving their posts in an open draw.

A total of 16 horses entered the filly companion event, the Hambletonian Oaks, including 2021 Dan Patch and O’Brien awards winner Venerable. The top-five finishers from Saturday’s two eight-horse $40,000 eliminations will meet in the $500,000 final, also on Aug. 6 at The Big M.

Joviality S, unbeaten in six races this year for trainer Marcus Melander, was one of two fillies entered in the Hambletonian. The other, Jiggy Jog S, is from the stable of Ake Svanstedt, who won last year’s Hambletonian with Captain Corey and in 2017 with Perfect Spirit.

It is the second time in three years that multiple fillies head to the Hambletonian. Ramona Hill and Sister Sledge faced the boys in 2020, with Ramona Hill winning both her elimination and the final. Sister Sledge finished fourth in her elimination to advance to the final, where she went off stride and finished eighth.

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.

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. A filly has never won the Trotting Triple Crown, which began in 1955. Two fillies have won two jewels: Continentalvictory in 1996 (Yonkers Trot and Hambletonian) and Emily’s Pride in 1958 (Hambletonian and Kentucky Futurity).

Joviality S enters the Hambletonian off a career-best 1:50.2 win in a division of the Delvin Miller Memorial on July 16 at The Meadowlands. The homebred daughter of Chapter Seven-Pasithea Face S, who has won 15 of 18 career races and finished worse than second only once on her way to $1.25 million in purses, is owned by Anders Strom’s Courant Inc.

She is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in her Hambletonian elim.

“We said if she raced good (in the Miller) we would go against the colts, and she was very good,” Melander said. “She came out of the race good and we’re very happy with her. It will be very exciting.

“It’s going to be a tough race, but I think she can do it. We’ll see. But first we have to make the final. That’s the first main goal. You can never take anything for granted.”

Starting from post 10 will make her task more challenging, but Joviality S won from the outermost position on the gate at The Meadowlands last year in the Breeders Crown final for 2-year-old filly trotters.

“There is nothing we can do about it,” Melander said. “We just have to have her at her best, like we were planning to do. We just have to live with it and make the final anyway. It’s good horses in there, so it’s going to be tough from the 10 hole, but she’s a great horse and we’ll hope she can overcome it.”

In addition to Joviality S, Melander will send four colts into the Hambletonian, including Temporal Hanover and Periculum, who finished 1-2 in the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial Open Main Event on July 9. His remaining two starters are Letsdoit S and Theresnolimit S.

Jiggy Jog S, who is the same elim as Joviality S, has three wins and two seconds in five races this year for owner Jorgen Sparredal Inc. and Svanstedt. She heads to the Hambletonian off back-to-back victories in the New York New York Mile on July 1 and Zweig Memorial Main Event for 3-year-old fillies on July 9. Svanstedt also entered colt Justice, this year’s Empire Breeders Classic male champion, in the Hambletonian.

The Hambletonian eliminations also include King Of The North, who was the 2021 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter, as well as Goodtimes Stakes winner Fast As The Wind and Stanley Dancer Memorial division winners Rebuff and Slay.

Fast As The Wind and Slay are trained by Tony Alagna.

Rebuff is one of two colts from the stable of trainer Lucas Wallin, along with Grand Circuit winner B A Superhero. Rebuff, last season’s Breeders Crown 2-year-old male champion, is 2-for-2 this year and has won five consecutive starts dating back to last October. He is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the first elimination, starting from post eight.

Trainer Nancy Takter has three horses in the Hambletonian, with New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Pretender joined by Keg Stand and Looks Like Moni.

The Hambletonian Oaks field, in addition to Venerable, includes Delvin Miller Memorial division winner and New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Fashion Schooner, who is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the second elimination. She won her Miller split in a career-best 1:50.1, besting Oaks hopeful Manon by three-quarters of a length.

Venerable, the 8-5 morning-line choice in the first elimination, finished second by a half-length to Joviality S in their Miller division. In her previous start, Venerable won the Zweig Memorial Consolation for fillies. She is one of three fillies in the Oaks for trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman, who won last year’s Oaks with Bella Bellini. The others are Lilbitalexis and Delilah Hanover.

Other fillies heading to the Oaks with Grand Circuit victories this month are Gracelyn Hanover, Mon Cheval, and Baptism.

Racing begins at 6:20 p.m. (EDT) at The Meadowlands. The Hambletonian eliminations are races nine and 11. The Oaks eliminations are races eight and 10.

Hambletonian Elimination One (Race 9)

PP – Horse – Trainer – Morning Line

1 – Cool Papa Bell – Jim Campbell – 8-1

2 – Looks Like Moni – Nancy Takter – 12-1

3 – Fast As The Wind – Tony Alagna – 8-1

4 – Branded By Lindy – Domenico Cecere – 5-1

5 – Justice – Ake Svanstedt – 10-1

6 – Molotov Cocktail – Linda Toscano – 10-1

7 – Periculum – Marcus Melander – 4-1

8 – Rebuff – Lucas Wallin – 2-1

9 – Theresnolimit S – Marcus Melander – 15-1

10 – Pretender – Nancy Takter – 12-1

Hambletonian Elimination Two (Race 11)

PP – Horse – Trainer – Morning Line

1 – Testing Testing – George Ducharme – 10-1

2 – Chulo – Per Engblom – 15-1

3 – Temporal Hanover – Marcus Melander – 7-2

4 – Slay – Tony Alagna – 9-2

5 – Jiggy Jog S – Ake Svanstedt – 8-1

6 – King Of The North – Ray Schnittker – 5-1

7 – B A Superhero – Lucas Wallin – 8-1

8 – Keg Stand – Nancy Takter – 10-1

9 – Letsdoit S – Marcus Melander – 15-1

10 – Joviality S – Marcus Melander – 3-1

Hambletonian Oaks Elimination One (Race 8)

PP – Horse – Trainer – Morning Line

1 – Yanaba – Dan Daley – 10-1

2 – Selfie Queen – Nancy Takter – 9-2

3 – Venerable – Nifty Norman – 8-5

4 – Lilbitalexis – Nifty Norman – 15-1

5 – Manon – Lucas Wallin – 3-1

6 – Misswalner Fashion – Jim Campbell – 6-1

7 – Bare My Soul – Linda Toscano – 15-1

8 – Gracelyn Hanover – John Butenschoen – 8-1

Hambletonian Oaks Elimination Two (Race 10)

PP – Horse – Trainer – Morning Line

1 – Fashion Schooner – Jim Campbell – 9-5

2 – Pink Coco Chanel – Tony Alagna – 10-1

3 – Mon Cheval – Nancy Takter – 6-1

4 – Raised By Lindy – Domenico Cecere – 4-1

5 – Delilah Hanover – Nifty Norman – 8-1

6 – Baptism – Ake Svanstedt – 7-2

7 – Peyton Hanover – Marcus Melander – 15-1

8 – Warrawee Xenia – Shawn Steacy – 8-1

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