by Rusty Nash for HANA Harness
December 1, 2015 – The marathon we lovingly call the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge has concluded with Sally Hinckley running away with the title, finishing 570 points ahead of her nearest competitor. We graciously thank the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Green Acquisition Corporation, Hambletonian Society, Isle of Capri Pompano Park, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs for being Gold Sponsors of this event.
This year’s Grand Circuit journey started on April 24th at The Meadows and concluded Monday November 30th at Dover Downs. It was fitting that Wiggle It Jiggleit won the finale in the same dominating way that Sally Hinckley dominated the HANA tour! Once they were out of the gate and settled down they both moved to the front and were never headed again.
The HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge was no pushover of a race. The field consisted of many of the top handicappers and movers and shakers in the harness racing world. Sally’s credentials are very strong as she is a well-known horsewoman from Maine. She is a member and the Secretary of the Maine Harness Racing Promotional Board. Many of you have seen her work without realizing it. Sally out started as Lady Lewiston in the Lewiston Sun Journal. Sally has also been the regular line maker at Scarborough Downs for quite some time. More importantly, for our cause, are Armbro Brando and Stelerbraration. Both of these retired gladiators make their forever home with Sally and her family. Thank you Sally!
When contacted about her win Sally was very gracious and first wanted to thank contest coordinator Allan Schott and the whole group of top North American Handicappers who made the whole event so much fun.
When asked about her strategy in the new format she talked about trying get a high win rate for the multiplier while also looking for a good longshot or two each week. Sally explained how it clicked for her. “While stuck in the middle of pack, my choice of Annedrovette at 36-1 propelled me to a top position. Then began a strategy of defense. Trying to minimize other players gain by having many of the same picks, but mostly I lived by the old adage that ‘the race isn't always to the swiftest but that's the way to bet it.’ I also got on some great bandwagons, for instance Divine Caroline. I was very glad to find the wire because any of the other players could have a huge night at any time!”
Regarding our cause, Sally went on to say, “All the rescue groups are worthy and it is a special pleasure to bring the win home to the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals, Their efforts help the abused and neglected horses who have been seized by the state to find safety and comfort at their facility. Many thanks to the generous sponsors, Allan Schott for his work and expertise in running this contest the past seven months and my fellow handicappers who are now my friends.”
For winning the handicapping challenge, Hinckley’s selected rescue, the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals, an organization dedicated to equine welfare, will receive $2,950 for use towards their Standardbred program thanks to all our sponsors the Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Green Acquisition Corporation, Hambletonian Society, Harness Racing Update, Isle of Capri at Pompano Park, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Scioto Downs, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs. In addition to this donation, $500 will be donated to Canadian rescues by our Canadian partners, Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park and Western Fair Raceway. A $200 donation was made by an anonymous sponsor.
Second place finisher, Dennis O’Hara, will see his rescue, Standardbred Retirement Foundation receive a donation of $1,575. Third place finisher Anne Stepien will see her rescue, Heading for Home earn approximately $675 for her efforts.
Standings as of November 30, 2015 - Leg 65 Final Standings
HANA Harness thanks all of our generous sponsors who allow this handicapping contest to be an annual event since 2012. Plans are already underway for next year’s competition. Anyone connected with the Standardbred industry who may be interested in sponsorship of next year’s event may contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information.