TVG Expert: Dave Weaver
It’s harness racing’s greatest day — Hambletonian Day! Saturday at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey where the sport’s most talented 3-year-old trotters vie for $1,000,000 in the 94th Hambletonian. As of yet, we won’t even know which horses will be in the final, which goes as race 12, until the elimination heats are held as races 8 and 9. The top 5 finishers from each of those races will square off after returning to the paddock for a brief rest.
Trainer Marcus Melander, who won the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Rising Star award in 2018, has three major chances to win this year’s Hambletonian. With none bigger than Greenshoe, who will be the overwhelming favorite in the second heat. He is coming off a smashing 3 3/4-length win in the Stanley Dancer Memorial in which he set a new lifetime mark of 1:50 1/5. Brian Sears will once again be in the sulky. In the first heat, Melander sends out the undefeated colt Gimpanzee and Swedish-bred Green Manalishi S. If all goes well he will have a chance to sweep the top three spots of the Hambletonian Final.
The biggest challenger to the Melander trio will be Don’t Let’em, who will score just to the outside of Greenshoe in the second heat. Lightly raced this year with only four starts, the Muscle Hill colt was ultra-impressive in taking the Reynolds by 5 1/4-lengths just last weekend. Yannick Gingras, who seeks his first Hambletonian, will drive for trainer Nancy Johansson.
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