Hambletonian Festival week kicks off on July 28 with two $50,000 eliminations to narrow the field to 10 for the $500,000 Oaks final on Hambletonian Day, Saturday, Aug. 4, at The Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J.
The recent battle between Dan Patch Award champion Manchego and rival Plunge Blue Chip in a division of the Del Miller Memorial at The Meadowlands resulted in a near dead-heat with Plunge Blue Chip emerging a nostril ahead in a world-record 1:49.4.
The two fillies were seeded into different Oaks eliminations, with Plunge Blue Chip receiving post eight in one and Manchego receiving post seven in the other. The other Del Miller Memorial winner, Phaetosive, will start inside of Plunge Blue Chip with post five in their elimination.
Manchego has lost just two of 17 career starts, breaking against males in the Beal Memorial final on June 30, and the aforementioned nose loss to Plunge Blue Chip. Her career earnings stand at $961,170 for trainer Jimmy Takter and owners Black Horse Racing, John Fielding and Herb Liverman.
Plunge Blue Chip, driven and trained by Ake Svanstedt, has a record of 5-3-2-0 in 2018 for an ownership comprised of Svanstedt Stable, Blue Chip Bloodstock, Zeron Racing Stables and Tomas Andersson. Her only losses this year have come in meetings with Atlanta, the top filly in the division, whose connections opted to race the males in the $1 million Hambletonian Open. The daughter of Muscle Mass-Dunk The Donut became the fastest 3-year-old of any gender with her recent 1:49.4 score.
For the first time this year Plunge Blue Chip will face Phaetosive, driven and trained by Trond Smedshammer and owned by Purple Haze Stables. The daughter of
Explosive Matter-Phaeton was a $65,000 purchase at the Standardbred Horse Sale in 2016 and has earned her connections $352,358 in just 10 lifetime starts.
The Oaks elimination fields are as follows:
1st elimination - $50,000
1 Blonde Magic
2 Lima Novelty
3 Winbak Noelle
4 Perfect Summer K
6 Live Love Laugh
7 Nixie Volo
8 Plunge Blue Chip
2nd elimination - $50,000
1 What A Knockout
2 Bill's Lady
3 Lily Stride
4 Hey Blondie
5 Fly Fly Selena
6 Courtney Hanover
8 Prinaha Fury
The top five finishers in each elim will advance to the final on Aug. 4. There is no Lasix or any race day medication permitted in the eliminations or finals of the Hambletonian Oaks or Open. Elimination winners draw for inside posts 1-5 and all other finalists will then be placed in an open draw. The winner of the final on Aug. 4 is the Oaks winner, regardless of elimination finish on July 28.
Post positions for the $500,000 final will be drawn and morning lines assigned on Tuesday, July 31, on a Facebook live post-position draw at 2 p.m. on the Meadowlands Facebook page and also streamed live on the Meadowlands YouTube channel.
The $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks and $1 million Hambletonian will be featured on a live 90-minute broadcast on CBS Sports Network from 4-5:30 p.m. [EDT] on Aug. 4.
Hambletonian Day is closing day with a post time of 12:00 noon, and the zenith of the Championship Meet. Fans can follow the next two action-filled weekends at Hambletonian.com, meadowlandsracetrack.com and on Twitter at #Hambo18.