EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Donatella Hanover and My Inspiration finished in a dead-heat for the win on Friday night in the $30,000 Duenna Stakes for 3-year-old trotting fillies at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment.
Fittingly, the program on the eve of the Hambletonian was a festival of mostly trotting races.
Donatella Hanover surged from seventh to force the deadlock, her fifth win in 15 starts for Christinatakterandthekids. Brett Miller was at the lines for trainer Jimmy Takter.
My Inspiration, who had battled to the front in deep stretch only to get nailed at the wire, improved to 2 for 10 for Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz with Corey Callahan driving for trainer Trond Smedshammer.
The time was 1:54.
Michelle Crawford pumped her fist in the air as A Penny Earned was an easy winner in the $27,500 racing under saddle competition. The 5-year-old gelding, trained by George Ducharme, who captured last year’s Hambletonian with Royalty For Life, posted his second racing-under-saddle win in five tries. The time was 1:57 2/5.
There were also eight Grand Circuit divisions of the Kindergarten Stakes for 2-year-old trotters each worth $10,000.
In the colt and gelding divisions:
French Laundry cruised to a convincing 5 1-4 length win in 1:55 3/5 with Yannick Gingras driving for Takter. They will team up with 4-5 favorite Father Patrick in the Hambletonian.
It was the second win in three starts for the $115,000 Lexington purchase for Christina Takter, John & Jim Fielding, Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld.
The time was 1:55 3/5.
Gingras and Habitat held off The Bank for his maiden victory in 1:54 2/5. Ron Burke trains the $50,000
Lexington purchase for Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents Stables and Weaver Bruscemi.
P Mac Attack won his debut in 1:57 2/5 in a 12-1 upset. Marcus Johansson drove the Richard & Joyce McClelland homebred for his wife Nancy.
In the filly divisions:
Speak To Me, the 1-10 favorite, did not disappoint. The $80,000 Harrisburg purchase by Brittany Farms improved to 4 for 4 for Gingras and Takter. The time was 1:53 4/5.
The boss’s horse, Allerage Star won in 1:57 2/5 for Jeff Gural, chairman of the New Meadowlands Racetrack and his Little E Stable. Corey Callahan was at the lines for trainer Jessica Okusko as the $18,000 Harrisburg purchase got her first win in three starts.
Josie’s Joy edged Pad Princess by a neck in 1:55 3/5 for the Hall of Fame duo of driver John Campbell and trainer Chuck Sylvester.
It was second win in three starts for Nicholas Cimino’s homebred.
Sistas pulled a 29-1 upset in her second start following a 23-length loss in Pennsylvania Sires Stakes. Marcus Johansson drove his wife’s trainee for the ownership team of Crawford, Crawford and Crawford.
The $17,000 yearling purchase at Lexington trotted the mile in 1:57.
Lady Clarabella, Paul Kinnear’s homebred, got her maiden win in 1:58 2/5. David Miller drove for trainer Randy Beeckman. Even-money favorite Iluvmyjimmychoos finished second despite jumping off stride at the finish wire. The judges determined she did not violate the breaking rules and left her in the place spot.\
Saturday is Hambletonian Day. Post time is noon. Gates open at 10 a.m. Post Time for The $1 Million Hambletonian is 5:11 P.M.