03/22/2016 12:19PM

Harness: Southwind Frank heads 2016 Hambletonian eligibles

Derick Giwner
Southwind Frank only lost one race as a 2-year-old.

The $1 million Hambletonian and filly companion stake, the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, will be raced on Saturday afternoon, August 6, at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The 91st edition of the Open event will feature eliminations and the final on the same day. 

Eliminations for the Hambletonian Oaks, if necessary, will be raced the prior week, Saturday, July 30.

Mega-trainer Ron Burke has the top-rated trotter in the experimental ratings two years in row. Last year his filly Mission Brief was ranked #1 and finished second in the Hambletonian to Pinkman, and this year’s dazzling colt, Southwind Frank, who lost just once in 12 starts last year and racked up $786,419 in earnings, is also the winter-book favorite for America’s Trotting Classic.

“He is training great,” said Burke. “He’s been in 2:20 and looks great. I kept him up here this winter at Gaitway [Training Center, Manalapan, NJ] because I figured if Takter wins Hambletonians by staying up here in the North, I’m staying up here. If you can’t beat  ‘em, join ‘em.

“You have to be ready by August and even with Mission Brief last year I always felt I was chasing, chasing, and needed one more week. Keeping Southwind Frank and Make Or Miss, who is also coming along unbelievably well up here, means they are on schedule and will be ready.” 

Dan Patch Trainer of the Year Jimmy Takter annexed a fourth Hambletonian title in 2015 with Pinkman, becoming just the fifth trainer to win consecutive Hambletonians since 1926. No trainer has won three in a row, and another win by a Takter-trainee would place him in the rarefied company of five-time Hambletonian winners and immortals of the sport Ben White, Bill Haughton and Stanley Dancer.

The Takter stable has 10 trotters eligible to the Hambletonian, with the $324,405 earner Lagerfeld leading the parade.   

“Lagerfeld is good but I have a few maybe a little better,” said Taker.” So many of them were sick last year – I think Bar Hopping, Love Matters and the brother to Shake It Cerry [Jimmy William], who is just training fantastic now, may be my sleepers.”

Jimmy William is a son of the Takter-owned and trained Solveig, who not only earned more than $800,000 herself, but subsequently produced six foals whose current winnings top $4.3 million.

Other eligibles include Valley Victory winner Dog Gone Lucky from the Chuck Sylvester stable; Derivative, a son of 2003 Hambletonian winner Amigo Hall who has already made his first start this year for trainer Blair Burgess; Speed It, a son of pacing sire Cam’s Rocket who produced the blazingly fast Googoo Gaagaa for trainer Richard Hans, and the foreign owned, bred and trained Ulisse Kronos, an unraced but highly regarded three-quarter brother to Going Kronos.  

The Hambletonian has been hosted by the Meadowlands Racetrack since 1981. There are no supplemental entries permitted in the Hambletonian and Oaks, nor are participants in those events or the Hambletonian Maturity (July 18), permitted the use of Lasix or Butazolidin.

The Hambletonian is the first leg of the trotting Triple Crown, followed by the Yonkers Trot on September 3 and the Kentucky Futurity on October 9.

The Hambletonian race is also the longest-running live broadcast in harness racing.  The August 6 event will be broadcast live on CBS Sport Network from 4:00-5:30 p.m. [EDT]

The Hambletonian Trail commences Saturday, May 7, with the Dexter Cup and Lady Suffolk at Freehold Raceway.

Eligibles for all Hambletonian-serviced stakes can be found at www.hambletonian.org

(editted release--Hambletonian Society)