Canada's Forbidden Trade upsets large Swedish contingent in 94th Hambletonian
by Mike Farrell
Non Watermarked photos by LISA PHOTO
East Rutherford, NJ — Hambletonian Day was to be a day to unfurl Swedish flags at The Meadowlands.
Why not? Rising star Marcus Melander started the day with a powerhouse four-horse contingent locked and loaded, taking dead aim at the 3-year-old trotting classic.
But when the dust settled, it was our friendly neighbors to the north celebrating, as Forbidden Trade pulled a 15-1 upset.
Canada’s champion 2-year-old showed the heart of a warrior to hold off 3-10 favorite Greenshoe by neck in a dramatic fight to the finish.
And it was the first Hambletonian victory for the Canadian trio of owner Serge Godin’s Determination Stable, trainer Luc Blais and driver Bob McClure.
Coming in, McClure said “the sky was the limit” for his colt. Forbidden Trade backed up that confidence with the race of his life.
Forbidden Trade, third in his Hambletonian elimination, was always in contention throughout the mile. McClure and his colt tracked Green Manalishi S, an elimination winner and a member of the Melander brigade, into the stretch. Forbidden Trade took charge, but danger was looming with Greenshoe uncorking a menacing rally.
For an instant, it appeared Greenshoe would blow on by. McClure admitted he was headed, but Forbidden Trade was not done. After all, this was the day of the Maple Leaf.
“It was two incredible colts fighting it out,” McClure said. “I don’t think there was a loser in that, but we’re really happy to get out on top.”
It’s also been a remarkable comeback for McClure, 28, who suffered a broken pelvis in a qualifier accident in April. He was back in action by May 23, using a hyperbaric chamber to hasten the recovery.
“I was really lucky to have a good physical trainer,” McClure said. “I probably rushed it back a little faster than I should have. I’m sure most drivers in this business have done this a time or two.”
Melander didn’t get the victory, but his trio of qualifiers for the final raced well. Gimpanzee rallied from far back to get third and Green Manalishi S held on for the fifth and final purse check.
Greenshoe never looked comfortable behind the starting gate for the final as driver Brian Sears held him together to prevent a break. That put him further back than expected, a loss of ground that proved costly.
The time was 1:51 on a warm sunny afternoon as the threatened showers never materialized to spoil the day. Forbidden Trade paid $33.80 to win.
It was the 12th win in 18 starts for the son of Kadabra. He was a $110,000 purchase at the Harrisburg sale.
The Hambletonian kicks off the Trotting Triple Crown. Next up is the Yonkers Trot on Aug. 31, followed by the Kentucky Futurity on Oct. 6.
Earlier in the day, a determined Green Manalishi S pulled a 9-1 upset in the first Hambo elimination. He left strongly from post eight, briefly dropped into fourth before ranging up first-over to wear down Osterc in a lifetime best 1:50.3.
Melander and Courant Inc. also won the second elimination. In a favorite’s delight, it was with Greenshoe, the 1-5 favorite, in 1:50.2.
Green Manalishi S reaches in first Hambo elim; Gimpanzee defeated
by James Witherite
East Rutherford, NJ — Green Manalishi S ($20.60) outlasted a first-over grind to collar Osterc in 1:50.3 in the first $70,000 Hambletonian elimination on Saturday (Aug. 3) at The Meadowlands, while fourth-place finisher Gimpanzee suffered defeat for the first time after winning the first 12 races of his career.
Now an eight-time winner, the son of Muscle Hill commenced his uncovered bid out of fourth just beyond a :54.4 half mile, advancing steadily on the far turn in line to Tim Tetrick to engage 30-1 long shot Osterc (Yannick Gingras) at the midpoint of the far turn. The pair dueled the length of the stretch, with Green Manalishi S just reaching in the final strides. Osterc was a game runner-up, while Soul Strong (Dexter Dunn) launched a belated rally down the grandstand side to finish third.
Gimpanzee (Brian Sears), sent off the 2-5 favorite, gapped third-over cover but finished evenly to save fourth, and Cantab Fashion (Scott Zeron) finished fifth.
Marcus Melander trains Green Manalishi S for Courant Inc.
The top five finishers from each elimination will advance to the $1 million Hambletonian final, carded as race 12 at The Meadowlands.
Greenshoe gives Melander sweep of Hambo elims
by James Witherite
East Rutherford, NJ — Greenshoe ($2.60) looked every bit the part of a fives-on favorite in the second Hambletonian elimination on Saturday (Aug. 3) at The Meadowlands, seizing command from Marseille with three-eighths to go and coasting to a handy 1:50.2 victory.
Greenshoe threw his head briefly at the start, but Brian Sears held him together before floating him into third behind Marseille (Åke Svanstedt) and Forbidden Trade (Bob McClure) on the first turn. After clearing from post eight in a :27.3 first quarter, Marseille rebuffed a pocket bid from Forbidden Trade en route to a :56 half before facing the first-over onslaught of Greenshoe on approach to the far turn.
With three-eighths to go, the son of Father Patrick surged to the fore and edged away willingly in the home straight to a wrapped-up two-length score, the seventh of his career.
Don't Let'em (Yannick Gingras) chased well after losing cover to protect second from Forbidden Trade, who switched three-wide from the pocket and accelerated in mid-stretch. Marseille finished fourth, and Pilot Discretion (Andy McCarthy) finished fifth to secure the final berth to the 94th Hambletonian, carded as race 12.
Marcus Melander, whose Green Manalishi S took the first Hambletonian elimination, trains Greenshoe for Courant Inc., Hans Backe, Lars Granqvist and Morten Langli.