by Al Cimaglia
August 8, 2020
The Meadowlands has a big star-studded 16-race card for Hambletonian Day starting with the first post at 12 noon EST. This will be the first time the Hambletonian will be a one race final and the $1 million trot is carded as Race 11. The Hambletonian Oaks goes in Race 9 and has a $600,000 purse. There will be a total of 10 stake races with combined purses of over $3.5 million.
Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.
Race 7-Sam McKee Memorial FFA Pace-Purse $229,660
8-Bettor's Wish (7/2)-All 3 of my top selections could win this race but will lean towards the Ryder trainee who tries Lasix for the 2nd time. This should be a great race and if the fractions for the opening half are sizzling Dunn could leave and duck and come on again. This 4-year-old gets the edge on versatility and the fact Dunn can get the most out of him.
2-Dancin Lou (3-1)-Lou qualified well on 7/31 but hasn't raced since 7/18, when he won the Haughton. There is nothing to criticize, Sears will likely go for the lead and it remains to be seen how many will challenge. Could snag 4th win in 6 starts this year as long as the trip isn't too taxing. Lou is a monster and should be a threat for top honors once again.
3-Hurrikane Emperor (6-1)-McDermott trainee should be in position at the top of the lane and it will be interesting to see how MacDonald works the trip. Has the gate speed to leave but may look to follow the same script as in the Graduate. Could duck, then fly by down the lane at a square price and should be used in gimmicks as well.
$10 Exacta key 8/2,3
$2 Exacta Box 3-8, 2-3
Race 9-Hambletonian Oaks-Purse $600,000
12-Hypnotic AM (5/2)-Has been burdened with outside posts in last 3 starts, but in my view this filly is the best trotter in the field. Sears won with Gimpanzee from the 2nd tier in the Hambo Maturity a few weeks ago. Maybe he can work his magic again and #2 could be leaving so that may help. Either way some luck will be needed but will respect chances as winner of 3 of 4 starts at the Big M could be posing again.
7-Sorella (7/2)-Nancy Takter's pupil has been tough to beat, winning 3 of 4 this season and 3 of 5 lifetime at the Big M. She gets a significant post advantage over contenders starting in the 2nd tier. Gingras will likely leave and get on the engine but will probably need to outgun a couple of leavers from the inside to take control. If Gingras and can steal a quarter this gal will be tough to catch.
11-Panem (6-1)-Another top trotting filly from the Takter barn. Hasn't had the success of Sorella but she does seem to be getting better. Consistent filly has been 1st or 2nd in last 5 races and is a threat for top honors if Dunn can somehow work a decent trip.
$10 Exacta Key 12/7,11
Race 10-John Cashman Memorial FFA Trot-Purse $291,350
2-Atlanta (3-1)-This mare loves the Big M with 7 wins in 11 starts and has never been worse than 2nd. Gingras has a post edge over Gimpanzee the morning line chalk and has some options. The only 2 loses this year were to Manchego and will look for a mild upset here.
3-Marion Marauder (6-1)-Captured 1st win in 2 years on 8/24 and did it in style. Set a personal best winning in 150.2 and was 1st over but like a champion found a way to get his noise on the wire 1st. Comes in off a big effort and might be better today.
7-Gimpanzee (2-1)-Melander's prize pupil is a winner of 4 straight this year and has been great. It would be no surprise to see him take another picture and add to earnings of over $2.1 million. But takes on older for the 1st time so I will look to others who should offer more value.
$10 Exacta Key 2/3,7
$5 Eaxcta Key 3/2,7
Race 11-Hambletonian Final-Purse $1,000,000
5-Ramona Hill (5/2)-Comes into the big race off 2 wins, both were great and came from the 10 and 7 holes. Looks the best on paper and McCarthy should be able to get a good trip from this post. But could be bet down.
6-Threefiftytwo (6-1)-Was used early and late in last week's Hambo Elim and finished an impressive 2nd. Dube could be in position to work a really good trip and the Blais barn has been red hot in the last 30-days. Should offer a square price. Could be an upset possibility if chalks falter and should be used in gimmicks.
1-Ready For Moni (3-1)-Nancy Takter looks to win the Hambo after winning the Meadowlands Pace, which seldom happens. Moni has never started from the rail and versus this field it may not be an advantage. There is no denying this colt is in fine form and should be right there at the wire if Gingras works the right trip.
$10 Exacta Key 5/1,6
$5 Exacta Key 6/1,5
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