07/31/2014 8:44PM

Giwner: Hambletonian Day Thoughts


Each year owners, trainers, drivers, fans, bettors, and basically anyone who remotely enjoys harness racing wait in anticipation for Hambletonian Day. The nearly all-stake 15-race showcase of Standardbreds is rapidly upon us. Here are some random observations, opinions, analysis and notes to ponder for the races.

Sebastian K / Cashman

I watched the replay of Sebastian K’s Cashman elimination victory a dozen times. Driver Ake Svanstedt clearly came out of the pocket late and caused interference to driver Tim Tetrick and Mister Herbie.  It was a dangerous move in my opinion that could have casued confusion if a less experienced pilot was driving Mister Herbie. I applaud Svanstedt’s fearlessness on the track, but I question how long the regular drivers will put up with his tactics before they consider ganging up on him.

It is worth noting that the Hambletonian Day forecast is calling for a 30% to 70% chance of rain during the racing hours of noon to 6 PM. Sebastian K's lone loss this year came on an off track.


I simply can’t fathom a way that Father Patrick doesn’t win the Hambletonian. I’m not sure that takes any luster off the race but it is weird going into the Hambo without having any confidence that a longshot even has a chance to win. Yeah, post 10 will make it more difficult, but he is the best horse; hands down.

While some will tout that trainer Jimmy Takter buys the best horses and works with pristine bloodlines, let’s give the Hall of Fame conditioner his due for keeping Father Patrick, Trixton and Nuncio all on the top of their games. Who’s to say if another trainer had any of the trio that they would be quite as good as they have turned out.

Hambletonian Oaks

Buyers beware when you read the past performances for the fillies in the Hambo Oaks. A bunch in the Del Miller and the recent Oaks prep just simply don’t have lines that are representative of their peak performance level. Designed To Be was stuck on the pylons way too long in the Del Miller and basically gave a half-hearted attempt to win in her last race because of similar poor circumstances. Lifetime Pursuit was parked the entire mile two starts back and was in tight quarters and not exactly given the most aggressive steer in the Oaks prep. Shake It Cerry sports some pretty PP lines, but she got away with soft fractions in both recent wins. That doesn’t mean she won’t win, but I wouldn’t be running to the windows.

US Pacing Championship

Let’s give Sweet Lou some much deserved credit. It took a few years but this horse is finally living up to his immense talent. I know I pick against him every week to look for value, but I’m getting tired of ripping up tickets (that didn’t stop me from going against him again). I thought Captaintreacherous raced very well against “Lou” last time. The problem is that Captaintreacherous just doesn’t seem to have enough quick acceleration to beat Sweet Lou.

While I didn't pick him this week, the one thing I feel confident about is that Thinking Out Loud has been sitting on a big race for weeks. If he finally gets a cover trip, watch out!

Master Of Law

While everyone will be watching Sebastian K in the Cashman, I’ll have my eye on Master Of Law in the Vincennes trot. It took a trainer change to Jimmy Takter to get this guy in gear, but everything I’ve seen from him the last two weeks says he can be a major player against the big boys.

DRF LIVE on Hambletonian Day

I will be providing insight live from the Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day along with Matt Rose, Jay Bergman, and Lou Monaco. Whether you enjoy handicapping information, pictures, news, etc., be sure to check it out.

Guaranteed wagers

With five guaranteed multi-race wagers (.50 minimum) on the Saturday Meadowlands card, I thought I’d share my tickets below. For full card analysis, click here.

Race 1: $50K Pick 5
3,7 / 3,6,8 / 2,3 / 1,2 / 3,6,7, = $36

Race 3: $50K Pick 4
2,3 / 1,2 / 3,6,7 / 3,5 = $12

Race 7: $75K Pick 4
1,2,5,7 / 1,2,4,5,9 / 3,5,10 / 1,3,9 = $90

Race 9: $75K Pick 5
3,5,10 / 1,3,9 / 1,8 / 1,4,7,11 / 10 = $36

Race 12: $100K Pick 4
1,4,7,11 / 10 / 1,2,5 / 1,2,4,7 = $24

[DRF HARNESS: Watch the full Hambletonian Day (Saturday) card from the Meadowlands - LIVE on DRF!]