Ten eligible trotters plus a $50,000 supplement by the connections of the latest Indiana-sired sensation, distaffer Hannelore Hanover, comprise the field of 11.
Musical Rhythm, who won a Graduate leg at Mohawk Raceway and the $250,000 Final at The Meadowlands in 1:51.2 last Saturday, leads the field for trainer Ben Baillargeon. With 12 victories in 14 starts and $270,573 this year, a win with Musical Rhythm would give driver John Campbell consecutive victories in the Hambletonian Maturity, following his successful steer with JL Cruze, also a racetime supplement, last year.
A son of 1998 Breeders Crown freshman champ Musical Victory and sire Cantab Hall, Musical Rhythm was a $33,000 Standardbred Mixed Horse Sale purchase at Harrisburg last November for owner/trainer Ben Baillargeon, Claude Hamel and Santo and Nunzio Vena.
“He is amazing us,” said Baillargeon after Musical Rhythm’s Graduate Final victory from post 10, setting a new lifetime mark of 1:51.2.
“I go to the sale and look for young trotters with speed – I don’t care if they make breaks because I think I can fix them- but they have to show some speed. This guy was maybe a little guy when he went through the ring as a yearling but he fit what I was looking for and in my price range."
“Both times down at the Meadowlands, I don’t know what happened, he didn’t get a good trip but he went a hell of a mile Saturday night,” continued Baillargeon.
“Because he won in 1:52 in March I was able to stake him to the Graduate, Crawford and Allerage, although I originally wanted him to just stay in 4-year-old races.”
Though Baillargeon has returned to his home base in Ontario, his daughter Sara is headquartered at Magical Acres training center in New Jersey with Musical Rhythm.
Hannelore Hanover joins Bee A Magician (second in 2014) and Shake It Cerry (third in 2015) as the only mares to start in the Maturity against the males. The $50,000 supplemental decision was “kinda easy” according to trainer Ron Burke.
“We’ve had to count on her to do everything we planned on Mission Brief doing this year and she has really come through,” said Burke. “Her last two wins were in complete shutdown mode without her ever being asked, and everyone who has driven her believes she can trot in 1:49. She just won at Mohawk in 1:51, so that’s not out of the question.
“It’s a lot of money to put up, but she’s made a lot so we are kind of playing with our own money here. She has been just unbelievable this year – and no other horse shows the kind of miles she’s been doing.”
The Burke Racing Stable owns Hannelore Hanover, along with the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, and Frank Baldachino. A $32,000 purchase as a yearling from the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale, Hannelore started just twice at two in Indiana-sired events, and also stayed home in Indiana as a sophomore, racking up close to $300,000 in state-bred earnings.
Now four, the daughter of Swan For All – High Sobriety has joined Indiana stand outs like Wiggle It Jiggleit, Freaky Feet Pete, Always Be Miki and Color’s A Virgin in beating the best North America has to offer. Ironically, Hannelore Hanover’s sole loss this year came in her home state to the mare Allie Labrook. Otherwise she has picked up stake wins in the Miami Valley Distaff, Armbro Flight and Miss Versatility.
Burke will also start Crazy Wow for Our Horse Cents Stable, JT45, Silva Stables and Deo Volente Stable. A winner of $1.2 million lifetime, Crazy Wow has struggled to find his stride this year but put it together in an overnight race last Friday, scoring in 1:51.2.
Ake Svanstedt will start three trotters: Centurion ATM, Crescent Fashion and Honor And Serve. Svanstedt won the first edition of the Maturity in 2014 with Your So Vain.
Muscle Up The Goal comes in off a second-place finish to Obrigado in the Cleveland Trotting Classic an open race. Trained by Chris Beaver to more than $300,000 in earnings in just 25 lifetime starts, the son of Muscle Mass-Tag’s Goal will be making his first start at The Meadowlands.
2015 Hambletonian winner Pinkman was not entered, but Jimmy Takter has representation in Canepa Hanover. Trainer Luc Blais who has a history of sending out longshot winners has entered Lookslikeachpndale, a lightly-raced son of Muscle Hill; George Ducharme could be the first trainer in modern times to send out a Hambletonian winner [Royalty For Life in 2013] and a Maturity winner should Wings Of Royalty step up; and Tom Fanning adds Fashion Creditor for owner Joe Smith to round out the field.
Created by the Hambletonian Society and the Meadowlands as a racing opportunity solely for 4-year-olds previously eligible to the Hambletonian and Oaks, like those events the Maturity racing conditions prohibit the use of Lasix, the only race day medication permitted in New Jersey and entrants are subject to out of competition testing. The distance is a mile and an eighth.
All starters in the race will receive money, with the winner receiving 50% of the purse. One percent of the total purse will be paid to the owners of the finalist finishing sixth thru eleventh. The remainder of the purse for the Maturity will be divided 50-24-16-10% for the horses finishing second through fifth.
Post positions will be drawn later this afternoon with the rest of the sensational Meadowlands card which features the Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace, Mistletoe Shalee, Stanley Dancer Memorial, Delvin Miller Memorial, Golden Girls, Miss Versatility and the WR Haughton Memorial.
The 11-horse field, in alphabetical order, is below:
Hannelore Hanover (S)
Honor And Serve
Muscle Up The Goal
Wings Of Royalty