By Dave Little, for the Meadowlands
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Perfect weather and perfect conditions couldn’t prevent an imperfect result in harness racing’s most storied stakes event.
Trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt and his horse, Perfect Spirit, were second across the wire, beaten a half-length, in Saturday’s 92nd edition of the $1,000,000 Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters at the Meadowlands, but were placed first in the official order of finish, giving Svanstedt his first Hambo trophy.
Thus, for the first time ever, a Hambletonian winner was declared as the result of a disqualification.
What The Hill, who was first across the wire in 1:52.3, bothered Guardian Angel AS (placed eighth) in deep stretch as he squeezed his way out of the pocket and sent that one off stride, causing the DQ. What The Hill was placed ninth by the judges.
The official order of finish was Perfect Spirit first, 2-1 favorite Devious Man second and Enterprise third. Perfect Spirit paid $17.00 to win and now has seven wins in 16 lifetime starts and sports a bankroll of $646,419.
ARIANA “GRANDE” IN OAKS: Ariana G brought her “A” game in the Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old trotting fillies, and as a result, the rest of the field had no chance.
The daughter of Muscle Hill toyed with nine overmatched foes in the $500,000 sister event to the Hambletonian, putting on a dazzling display as she sped clear of the field through the stretch to win by 4¾ lengths over Magic Presto. Dream Together was third.
As the heavy favorite, Ariana G returned $2.40 to win and upped her lifetime stats to 15 wins in 18 starts, good for earnings of just over $1.2 million.
For the team of driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Jimmy Takter, it marked their fourth consecutive victory in the Oaks.
HAMBO HOPEFUL: In what amounts to an early look at next year’s Hambletonian, You Know You Do made his way into contention after vacating the rail at the five-eighths and went first over from there, eventually wearing down leader Samo Different Day inside the eighth pole before going on to an easy 2¼-length victory in the Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters. Farsetti Hanover was third.
You Know You Do, a son of Muscle Hill, stopped the clock in 1:54.2 and paid $5.00 to win as the public choice for the team of Gingras and Takter.
A LITTLE MORE: Attendance for the Hambletonian Day card was 18,356. … All-source wagering totaled $5,788,870. … Takter trained five winners on the card while Gingras drove four. Svanstedt trained and drove three to victory lane. … Live harness racing returns to the Big M on September 8 for an abbreviated four-day September meeting. The other dates are Sept. 9, 15 and 16. Post time is 7:15 p.m.
The results of the other major stakes events on the Hambletonian Day program, with winner (driver, trainer), time and win payoff (*-denotes betting favorite):
· Shady Daisy for 3-year-old pacing fillies: Blazin Britches (David Miller, Brian Brown), 1:48.4, *$2.60
· Dr. John R. Steele Memorial for free for all trotting mares: Pasithea Face S (Tim Tetrick, Jimmy Takter), 1:51.2, $9.60
· Jim Doherty Memorial for 2-year-old trotting fillies: Manchego (Yannick Gingras, Takter), 1:52.4, *$3.00
· John Cashman Memorial for free for all trotters: Resolve (Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt), 2:04.2 for a mile and an eighth, $7.00
· Cane Pace for 3-year-olds: Huntsville (Tetrick, Ray Schnittker), 2:03 for a mile and an eighth, *$3.40
· Sam McKee Memorial for free for all pacers: Check Six (Gingras, Ron Burke), 2:02.1 for a mile and an eighth, $79.00
· Lady Liberty for free for all pacing mares: Pure Country (Mark MacDonald, Takter), 1:50, $10.40