(H) Denotes Hambletonian eligible
Hopefuls for the two August classics – the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks – contested stakes over the weekend at Mohawk in Canada and the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
Sophomore filly trotters were featured on the May 31 card at Mohawk with two divisions of the $150,000 Casual Breeze Stakes while New Jersey-bred trotters faced-off in New Jersey Sires Stakes finals at the Meadowlands on June 1.
Bee A Magician returned $2.30 to win and was our choice. She is owned by Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman and David Mc Duffee, trained by Richard Norman and was piloted by Rick Zeron. Rain in the area caused the track to be downgraded to “good” immediately following the first division.
The even-money favorite Motown Muscle, in a 1:57.1 mile, defeated the two eligibles in the second division of the Casual Breeze. Quiet Snow (H-Angus Hall) was third over at three-quarters and came into the stretch with a bid, but finished fifth. Samartina (H-Muscles Yankee) was the other eligible, trotting a pocket-mile and having no rally into the stretch; she finished fourth.
Motown Muscle ($4.10) is owned by Bet Max Stables and Casco-Benenati Inc., trained by Benoit Baillargeon with brother Mario Baillargeon in the bike. Both sexes competed in $150,000 finals of the New Jersey Sires Stakes at the Big M.
Undefeated Smilin Eli (H-Muscles Yankee) brushed to the lead passing the quarter and took the field around the remainder of the oval in 1:52.1. Corky (H-Muscles Yankee), our choice at 7-1, got the pocket trip and just gave chase to Smilin Eli, while Muscle Mountain (H-Muscles Yankee) was three lengths behind the leaders in third.
Timo Deo (H-Muscles Yankee) was the only other contender in the mile, finishing fourth in the group. Super Classic (H-Muscles Yankee) did nothing and Amalfi Coast (H-Muscles Yankee) broke before the start.
Smilin Eli paid $2.20 to win. The colt is owned by Nicholas Cimino, trained by Deshawn Minor and was driven by Tim Tetrick to a lifetime-best 1:52.1 mile.
The filly final went to our choice, Shared Past (H-Chocolatier), in a 1:53.4 effort, equaling her lifetime mark.
The pace was set by Miss Steele (H-Muscles Yankee) for a short period of time, as Shared Past cleared the lead a little past the first quarter. Shared Past was unchallenged as she tried to get a breather at the half but failed to do so; she trotted the second quarter in :27.3. Southwind Cocoa (H-Chocolatier) led the two wide flow, first over and applying pressure to Shared Past at three-quarters. Silver Credit (H-Muscles Yankee) tipped off cover and was the only filly from the backfield trying to close on Shared Past.
Miss Steele edged out of the pocket and was in pursuit of Shared Past, but did not have enough to get by. Vintage Oaks (H-Muscles Yankee) rode a pocket trip and rallied for third, while Silver Credit settled for fourth.
Bill Donovan owns the daughter of Chocolatier, while Jonas Czernyson trains her and Yannick Gingras guided her to victory. Shared Past returned $3.60 to win.
Keep watching the Hambletonian Trail blog for updates and races involving eligibles through July and for live coverage from TwinSpires on Hambletonian day. Read race results at the special section archived at the Hambletonian Society web site.