08/03/2015 4:22PM

Hambletonian: Pinkman, Mission Brief favored in eliminations

Pinkman, shown winning the Dancer, starts from post 10 in his Hambletonian elimination.

Post positions were drawn for the 90th edition of the Hambletonian on Monday afternoon. Two eliminations along with a $1,000,000 final will be contested at the Meadowlands Racetrack on Saturday August 8.

The trotting classic for 3-year-old trotters lured 19 competitors including the divisional leaders of both sexes. Mission Brief, the lone filly entrant vying to become the first female winner of the race since Continentalvictory in 1996, drew post 2 in the ninth race heat elimination. Pinkman, the top dog among the male contenders, wound up in the opposite elimination from post 10 in race eight.

Mission Brief has won 12 of 17 career races, but has battled a back injury in 2015 which limited her to just four starts (three wins). Those ailments appeared to be behind her after a 1:51 4/5 victory in the Zweig Filly division at Vernon Downs.

Pinkman is the richest 3-year-old trotter in training with $1,187,925 earned in his career. The gelded son of Explosive Matter has won six of seven races this year with his only loss being a second-place finish behind Wicker Hanover in the Earl Beal eliminations at Pocono Downs.

“I wasn’t happy to get post 10 with Pinkman since he was my best contender,” said trainer Jimmy Takter before talking about the good points. “He’s a driver’s dream and never puts in a bad race.”

Trainer Ron Burke was all smiles after Mission Brief drew inside in the clearly weaker division.

“I think the pressure is off now,” said Burke. “I really do believe she has turned the corner.”

Even if Pinkman fails for Takter, the trainer has strength in numbers with five horses in the eliminations. Canepa Hanover (race eight, post 9), Uncle Lasse (Race nine, post 7), French Laundry (race nine, post 6) and The Bank (race eight, post 2) would all seem capable of finishing in the top five in their eliminations and making the final, race 13 on a 16-race stakes-filled card.

“I expect to have at least one or two right there,” said Takter about his chances in the final.

Trainer Ake Svanstedt entered four from his barn with two in each elimination. His top threat is Centurion ATM (race eight, post 8). The son of SJ’s Caviar is winless in four starts this year, but charged home in the Stanley Dancer at the Meadowlands on July 18 after making an early miscue.

Svanstedt was confident that the two-heat format of the Hambletonian would play to his horse’s strengths. “He’s a little lazy, but when I’ve given him a tough morning he was better the next time,” said Svanstedt.

The draw was also completed for the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, $319,400 Cane Pace and $301,500 John Cashman.

Elimination winner Lock Down Lindy was made the 3-1 second choice from post 1 in the Oaks, while Wild Honey, who she defeated by two lengths in that race, will head to print as the 5-2 favorite due to the driver switch to Yannick Gingras. Fellow elim winner Spirit To Win was fatally injured while being taken out to jog by trainer R.Dustin Jones on Monday morning and Classical Annie took her place in the final.

Harness Racing’s top horse, Wiggle It Jiggleit, drew post 2 in the Cane Pace. The 3-year-old gelding is off a win in the Meadowlands Pace and hopes to capture the first leg of the Pacing Triple Crown.

One of the more wide-open races on the card, the $301,500 John Cashman features a 12-horse field going the added distance of 1-1/8 miles. Market Share was made the early choice by oddsmaker Darin Zoccali from post 6.

$100,000 Hambletonian Elimination (Race 8)


2-The Bank

3-Workout Wonder


5-Total Darkness

6-Fashion Creditor

7-Jacksons Minion

8-Centurion ATM

9-Canepa Hanover


$100,000 Hambletonian Elimination (Race 9)

1-Billy Flynn

2-Mission Brief

3-Cruzado Dela Noche

4-Aldebaran Eagle

5-Wings Of Royalty

6-French Laundry

7-Uncle Lasse

8-Southwind Mozart

9-Muscle Diamond

[DRF HARNESS EYE: Digital Harness Eye is now available for purchase--PPs, Analysis, Charts, and more!]