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Vivid Photo won the first Hambletonian to go for $1.5 million under the terms of a new contract with the Meadowlands. Prior to the Hambletonian elimination, Vivid Photo never raced for more than $22,077. The $750,000 winners share of the Hambletonian purse gave Hammer and Schadel some supplemental money to flesh out their gelding's skimpy stakes schedule. They paid the $25,000 supplement to race in the World Trotting Derby and the Kentucky Futurity and a $62,500 fee to supplement to the Breeders Crown. Vivid Photo closed out the year as the richest trotter of 2005 with $1,376,829 and divisional honors. Vivid Photo was the fourth winner in the last five years to make his Meadowlands debut in the Hambo elims. Others to follow the same course were Yankee Paco in 2000, Scarlet Knight in 2001 and Amigo Hall in 2003. Vivid Photo is just the fourth gelding to win. The others were Greyhound in 1935, Flirth in 1973, and Shiaway St. Pat in 1981. Sire SJ's Photo, who stands at Lindwood Farm in Greensburg, PA, was ineligible to the 1993 Hambletonian. Trained and drive by David Wade, he did earn more than $1.3 million racing through his five-year-old before retiring to a prolific international stud career. SJ's Photo produced 46 trotting colts in 2003; nine were kept eligible to the Hambletonian and three made the final. His sons Vivid Photo and Classic Photo finished 1-2 in the Hambletonian. Both SJ's Photo and 1998 Hambletonian winner Muscles Yankee were represented by three offspring in the final. Muscles Yankee sired the most expensive yearling, Muscle Bound ($175,000), and the least expensive, Muscle Memory ($17,000). Hammer's last appearance at the Meadowlands prior to the 2005 Hambletonian elims was 11 years prior, when he finished fifth in teh Hambletonian Oaks with Keystone Colorful. Vivid Photo gave Hammer his biggest career win at age 59. Prior to 2005, his best year was 1994, when he tallied $1.3 million topped by multiple stakes winner pacing colt Keystone Luther. Hammer was voted 2005 W.R. Haughton Memorial Good Guy Award by members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Hammer exemplified that role to the hilt in 2005, parading Vivid Photo before the crowd at the Little Brown Jug, and many other venues. First-time Hambletonian winning breeder credits go to Joe and Joanne Thomson's Winback Farm of Pennsylvania. They bred, raised and sold the 2003 and 2004 Horse of the Year honorees. No Pan Intended and Rainbow Blue, in addition to divisional and Hambletonian champion Vivid Photo. The dam of Vivid Photo is Miss Garland 5, 2:00f ($91,356). She had produced a hard-knocking daughter by Giant Hit that annexed $154,000 as her blackest type until Vivid Photo came along. His accomplishments won her Dan Patch honors as Trotting Broodmare of the Year. The 2001 breeding to SJ's Photo awakened a blue-blooded pedigree that lay dormat for 50 years - Vivid Photo's sixth dam, Selka Song, a sister to the dam of Triple Crown winner Speedy Scot. The crowd of 31,245 at the Meadowlands was the highest since 1990 and marked the fifth straight year that the attendance increased on Hambletonian Day. On-track handle was $3,398,009, the best since 1994. The total Hambletonian Day handle of $9,015,019 was the highest ever at the Meadowlands and set a North American harness racing record.
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