EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. _ Pinkman won the 90th Hambletonian on Saturday, giving trainer Jimmy Takter a fourth training victory in world-famous trotting classic.
Takter continued his domination of Hambletonian Day at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment. He swept both the $1 million Hambletonian and the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for a second straight year.
In 2014, it was Trixton in the Hambletonian and Lifetime Pursuit in the Oaks.
This time it was Pinkman in the Hambo, and Wild Honey in the Oaks.
Brian Sears fell into the winning drive with Pinkman when Yannick Gingras opted to handle the filly Mission Brief in the final.
Gingras steered both Pinkman and Mission Brief to victories in the eliminations earlier that afternoon.
Faced with a fateful decision, Gingras opted for Mission Brief.
That set up Sears for his third Hambletonian win.
“Opportunity knocked,” Sears said. “It was great they gave me the call. What a pleasure the horse was to drive. You’re always a little nervous the first time you drive a horse in race like that, but he was pretty much push button.”
Takter failed to convince Gingras that Pinkman was his best choice.
“I tried to tell him you’re making a great mistake,” Takter said. “And I was right. Pinkman is just such a fighter. He’s not impressive, but he gets it done every time.”
Both Pinkman and Mission Brief were divisional winners last season. Fittingly, the Hambletonian came down to those two around the final turn.
Sears and Pinkman got the early jump, moving to the lead down the backstretch. That left Mission Brief with a prolonged first-over bid.
The filly was game but Pinkman prevailed by three quarters of a length.
“I knew I didn’t have enough at the top of the stretch,” Gingras said. “You have to give it to Pinkman. He’s a great horse and he’s a winner.”
Pinkman posted his 14th victory in 17 starts to cap another fantastic Hambletonian afternoon for Takter.
And it left Ron Burke, Mission Brief’s trainer, still looking for his first Hambletonian win. This was as close as the meet’s leading trainer has come.
“She raced really good,” Burke said. “If things shook out a little differently, the result might be different. She was the only one still going forward at the wire. She really gave it her all.”
Pinkman paid $4.60 to win as the 9-5 second choice. The time was 1:52 2/5. The gelding is owned by Christina Takter, John & Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland and Herb Liverman.
Uncle Lasse was third followed by The Bank as Takter horses finished first, third and fourth, good for $700,000 of the $1 million at stake.
Pinkman overcame post 10 to take first elimination in 1:51 2/5, equaling the world record for 3-year-old geldings on a mile track with The Bank second.
Donatomite, Habitat and Jacksons Minion also advance to the final.
Pinkman paid $5.60 to win.
Mission Brief took the second elimination by 4 ¾ lengths over long shot Albebaran Eagle in 1:51 3/5.
French Laundry, Uncle Lasse and Wings of Royalty also made the final.
$500,000 HAMBLETONIAN OAKS 3-Year-Old Trotting Fillies
Wild Honey, owned by many of the same members of the Pinkman team, won the companion event, giving trainer Takter a fifth Oaks.
“This little filly overcame her size,” Takter said. “She’s not a very big filly but she’s got a big heart. She gives her all every time.”
Gingras put Wild Honey on the lead midway down the backstretch and she took it from there, securing a 1 ¾ length victory over Rules of the Road with
Bright Baby Blues third.
She paid $4.60 to win. The time was 1:52 2/5.
Wild Honey improved to 13 for 19 for Christina Takter, the Fielding brothers and Herb Liverman.
It was one of five wins on the afternoon for Gingras.
$389,450 JIM DOHERTY MEMORIAL – 2-Year-Old Trotting Fillies
Broadway Donna extended her unbeaten streak to six with a nose win over Kathy Parker. She took charge entering the final turn and held on in 1:54 2/5 with David Miller in the sulky.
The race, formerly the Merrie Annabelle, was renamed for the Hall of Fame horseman who was a Meadowlands pioneer.
“Jim was a gentleman,” winning trainer Jim Campbell said. “If you bumped into him 10 times, he’d say hello to you 10 times. When I first came to The Meadowlands, he was someone I looked up to.”
Broadway Donna, the overwhelming favorite, paid $2.20 to win for Fashion Farms.
$251,250 LADY LIBERTY FINAL Free-For-All Pacing Mares
Four-time Dan Patch winner Anndrovette proved she is still a dominant force in the division with a determined victory, the 44th of her brilliant career.
The 8-year-old has now earned over $3.4 million with the 1 ¼ length win over Table Talk with Venus Delight third. The time was 2:04 1/5 for the 1 1/8 miles with Tim Tetrick at the lines.
“When she’s one her game, she’s one of the toughest horses I’ve ever been associated with,” Tetrick said. “She shows up, she’s a true champion, no question.”
Jeffrey Baymond, Jr. trains the multiple champion for Bamond Racing and Joseph Davino.
$215,400 US PACING CHAMPIONSHIP Free-For-All
State Treasurer finally had his Meadowlands moment after losing both the W.R. Haughton Final and the TVG Open by a neck.
The 6-year-old trained by Dr. Ian Moore and driven by David Miller demolished the competition by 3 ¼ lengths in a lifetime best 1:47.
Doo Wop Hanover got second over Foiled Again, the sport’s richest campaigner with over $7 million in the bank, third.
State Treasurer got his 26th win for Sally and Paul MacDonald.
$301,500 JOHN CASHMAN MEMORIAL Free-For-All Trot
Flanagan Memory made it two straight at The Meadowlands, pulling a 9-1 upset in the Cashman for Sears.
The 5-year-old exploded in the lane following a second-over trip behind Obrigado. The 5-year-old stopped the clock in 2:05 4/5, paying $21 to win.
“We got the kind of trip he likes,” Sears said. “He likes to close it up if he gets some good flow.”
The 5-year-old improved to 12 for 44 for Llette Flanagan and trainer Rene Dion.
$181,450 FRESH YANKEE FINAL Free-For-All Trotting Mares
Swedish star D’One was a rousing winner in her U.S. debut, rallying from far back to beat 2013 Horse of the Year Bee A Magician by one length in 2:05 for the 1 1/8 miles.
Ojran Kihlstrom drove for trainer Roger Walmann and Stall Kenny 23.
She was sharp as could be despite, not having raced in 10 weeks.
“She’s a horse that can trot pretty good,” Walmann said.
$349,850 PETER HAUGHTON MEMORIAL 2-Year-Old trotters
Southwind Frank took a major step toward next year’s Hambletonian with a decisive 2 1/4 length victory over Brooklyn Hill.
The New Jersey Sires Stakes champion improved to 4 for 5.
“He started out terribly but he has really blossomed into a really nice horse,” winning trainer Burke said.
As usual, Gingras was at the lines for owners Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, J & T Silva and Our Horse Cents Stable.
$75,000 VINCENNES Free For All Invitational Trot
Resolve, beaten only a neck in the Hambletonian Maturity here, overcame post 10 with trainer Ake Svanstedt at the line. He paid $4.60 to win for the lifetime best 1:50 4/5 victory.
$319,400 CANE PACE 3-Year-Olds
Dealt A Winner was the 26-1 winner of the opening leg of the Pacing Triple Crown, raced for the first time at The Meadowlands.
Wiggle It Jiggleit, the Meadowlands Pace winner, was victimized by a punishing speed duel with In The Arsenal. The 1-5 favorite finished fourth.
Dealt A Winner won for the first time in eight starts this year. The gelding owned by Jeffrey Snyder was driven by David Miller for Mark Silva.
“They were marching pretty good,” Miller said. “I never to move him until the last turn. He swelled up in the hole and when I moved him, he took off.”
Dude’s The Man survived a judges’ inquiry to get third. He skipped off stride turning for home but was not found to be in violation of the breaking rules.
$109,500 SHADY DAISY 3-Year-Old Pacing Fillies
Stacia Hanover rallied for a 1 ½ length win over the duo of Bettor Be Steppin and Divine Caroline who dead-heated for second.
Scott Zeron drove for trainer Steve Elliott and owners David Van Dusen and Michael Cimaaglio. She paid $22 to win. The time was 1:49 2/5.
There were $21,968 in attendance for the spectacular card of racing and the North American handle was $6,701,866. The on-track handle of $1,320,325 was a slight increase from the $1,280,854 wagered on-track last year. The numbers from international export will be reported soon and the handle will be updated accordingly.
Live harness racing returns to The Meadowlands on Friday, November 13th, and the thoroughbred turf meet will commence on Thursday, October 1st. Thanks to all The Meadowlands for an outstanding 2015 Championship Meet!