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Exported as a yearling, raised developed and trained in Europe, Scarlet Knight is the first U.S.-bred trotter to come back to win the Hambletonian. Melander was the first driver-trainer-owner to win the Hambletonian since Stanley Dancer did it in 1975 with Bonefish. Melander was the first driver-trainer to win it since Dancer won with Duenna in 1983. Melander trains some 70 horses with partner Catarina Lundstrom. He rarely reads the pedigree page but instead measures yearlings and enters all pertinent info in a detailed data base, consisting of over 60,000 horses he's measured. The Hambletonian Final was Melander's third drive in the U.S. He won the 1995 Yonkers International with His Majesty and his Hambo elim a week prior to the final. In each of the five years since multiple heats were replaced by eliminations the previous week, the eventual winner of the Hambletonian has also won his elimination. Scarlet Knight is only the fifth Hambletonian winner (since 1945) to come into the race with an unblemished record as a 3-year-old. The other four: Titan Hanover (1945), Sharp Note (1952), Mack Lobell (1987) and Malabar Man (1997). Scarlet Knight flew over and back on the same plane as international trotting superstar Varenne. The two returned to Europe having won the only two $1 million races for trotters offered in the world. Scarlet Knight was the fourth European-conditioned horse to take a shot at the Hambletonian: Shatter Way (1966), Top Hanover (1971), Easy Lover (1995). Scarlet Knight was probably the 40th favorite or co-favorite to win in the 76 years of the Hambletonian. Remarkably six out of the last nine years, the public's choice has prevailed. The three beaten favorites were: Lindy Lane (1996), CR Kay Suzie (1995), and Dreamaster (2000). Scarlet Knight is the 28th winner who paternal line traces directly to Scotland (third to Spencer in 1928). Scotland was a grandson of Peter The Great whose prodigy has won 63 of the 76 Hambletonians, including both dead-heat winners in 1989. Scarlet Knight was the 13th Hambletonian winner sold as a yearling by Standardbred Horse Sale Co. in Harrisburg, PA., since it offered Ashley Hanover (later renamed Bill Gallon) in its initial 1939 session. It was the Harrisburg sale's 1st winner since 1989 which now equals Tattersalls' record as the leader in that category. Additionally one more winner, Green Speed (1977), was catalogued at Harrisburg but withdrawn prior to his sale. Scarlet Knight, was the 32nd winner sired by a Kentucky stallion, a record by a state breeding program. The winners of the first 15 consecutive Hambletonians (1926 to 1940) were by Kentucky stallions. He was the 8th Hambletonian winner produced by a Castleton Farm stallion. His sire Pine Chip was exported to Sweden in 2000 when Castleton was disperssed. Five of the 10 starters were trained by Swedish trainers; four driven by Swedish reinsmen. To add to the Scandinavian flavor, a sixth was trained by a Norwegian. Brooke Nickells was the first female trainer to advance to the Hambletonian final with Lavecster. Both Anna-Lena Ljunggren (Baltic Baby, 1993) and Ann Wheeler (Speedy Big Boy, 1994) started in the eliminations but did not go forward to the final. Lavecster finished fourth in the final. Total harness handle was $8,028,480, the highest handle in the history of the sport, breaking the previous record for the 3rd consecutive year on Hambletonian Day. On-track attendance was $26,569 a record for the Meadowlands season. On-track harness wagering was $3,675,779, the highest at The Meadowlands since 1995.
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