Can a female trotter win the $1 million Hambletonian for the third time in the last five years?
Can the Breeders Crown champion Rebuff extend his six-race win streak?
Can Muscle Hill sire a fourth ‘Hambo’ winner?
These questions will be answered on Sunday morning AEST at The Meadowlands, New Jersey, when 10 of the best three-year-old trotters in commission will lock horns in the 97th renewal of The Hambletonian, the second leg of trotting’s Triple Crown.
Two fillies in Jiggy Jog S, one of last Saturday’s two elimination winners, and Joviality S, the Yonkers Trot champion, will attempt to join Ramona Hill (2020) and Atlanta (2018) as female winners of the ‘Hambo’ in recent times. Interestingly, only 15 fillies have ever won the Hambletonian since its inception in 1926.
Rebuff, the other elimination winner, will be looking to increase his winning streak to seven dating back to last October. He will start from the pole and has been installed as the 9-to-5 morning line favourite.
Muscle Hill, the 2009 Hambletonian winner and sire of ‘Hambo’ winners in Ramona Hill (2020), Marion Marauder (2016) and Trixton (2014), has three finalists in this year’s race in Rebuff, Periculum and Looks Like Moni.
Chapter Seven, the sire of the 2018 winner Atlanta and the current leading USA stakemoney sire, and Walner are the only other stallions with multiple representation.
Champion Kiwi reinsman Dexter Dunn will pilot the 4-to-1 third favourite Jiggy Jog S, while Todd and Andy McCarthy will drive the 15-to-1 outsiders Cool Papa Bell and Looks Like Moni respectively.
The 10 finalists have amassed a hefty $5,020,090 in stakes between them. Joviality S ($1,266,818) is the richest and Rebuff (1:49.8) the fastest.
The Hambletonian will highlight a 16-race program billed as the ‘Greatest Day in Harness Racing’ with more than $3.6 million in purses up for grabs.
The undercard features the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for three-year-old trotting fillies, the $337,000 Peter Haughton Memorial for two-year-old trotting colts, the $355,000 Jim Doherty Memorial for two-year-old trotting fillies, the $279,000 John Cashman Memorial for older trotters, the $258,300 Cane Pace for three-year-old pacing colts, the $92,300 Shady Daisy for three-year-old pacing fillies, the $278,000 Sam McKee Memorial for older pacers and the $173,000 Lady Liberty for pacing mares.