07/26/2017 7:25PM

Meadowlands: Ariana G looks to join sister as Oaks winner

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Award-winning Ariana G will take a step toward trying to follow in her older sister’s hoof prints when she competes in Saturday’s first of two eliminations of the Hambletonian Oaks at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

The Hambletonian Oaks, for 3-year-old female trotters, attracted 18 horses. The field was divided into two nine-filly eliminations, each with a purse of $40,438, and the top five finishers from each division advance to the $500,000 final Aug. 5 at the Big M.

Ariana G’s full sister All The Time won last year’s Hambletonian Oaks. Full sisters have never won the Hambletonian Oaks, let alone accomplished the feat in back-to-back years.

The only daughters of the same dam to win the Oaks were three-quarter sisters Marita’s Victory and Passionate Glide, who did it six years apart. Marita’s Victory (by stallion Valley Victory) won the 2000 Hambletonian Oaks and Passionate Glide (by Yankee Glide) won in 2006. Both were out of the mare Miss Marita.

Ariana G, who has won 13 of 16 career races and finished worse than third only once, is trained by Jimmy Takter and owned by Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. The connections considered racing Ariana G in the $1 million Hambletonian against male rivals, but opted for the Oaks.

“It was really Jimmy’s decision and both of us are very supportive of the decision,” Katz said. “When you consider all the factors, it’s clearly the right decision. The Oaks is as prestigious a race as there is for trotting fillies. We’re comfortable that she’s demonstrated that she’s capable of racing with the colts at this point. We’ll save that discussion for perhaps another day.”

Ariana G, a daughter of stallion Muscle Hill out of the mare Cantab It All, beat male rivals in an elimination of the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial and finished third from post eight in the final on July 1 for her only setback in five starts this season. She heads to her Hambletonian Oaks elimination off a 1:51 4/5 win in her division of the Delvin Miller Memorial for 3-year-old female trotters on July 15 at the Meadowlands.

She is the fastest 3-year-old female trotter this season, with a mark of 1:51 1/5, and second-fastest 3-year-old trotter overall, behind only colt Walner -- the Hambletonian favorite -- at 1:50 2/5.

Ariana G’s Oaks elimination also includes Glitzey Gal, Ice Attraction, Dream Together, Fine Tuned Lady, Dream Baby Dream, Treviso, Cool Cates, and Sunshine Delight. Glitzey Gal is the second-fastest 3-year-old female trotter of the season, with a mark of 1:51 2/5, while Fine Tuned Lady and Dream Baby Dream also are among the top eight. Treviso is unbeaten in five races this year, all on the Pennsylvania circuit.

The second elimination includes Ontario standout Magic Presto, Miller Memorial division winner Overdraft Volo and Tompkins-Geers Stakes winner Feed Your Head. The remainder of the field is Hillarmbro, Thats All Moni, Southwind Avanti, Caviart Wonder, Broadway Idole, and Evelyn.

“The Oaks is a great race, a great venue, and it deserves all the acclaim it should get,” Katz said. “The winners of that race are a who’s who of trotting fillies. There’s a tremendous amount of luster to it all. We’re looking forward to it.”

Takter, who trains Thats All Moni and Feed Your Head in addition to Ariana G, shares the record of six Hambletonian Oaks training wins with Jan Johnson and has won the last three editions of the race. Katz and Libfeld, who bred Ariana G, have three Hambletonian Oaks trophies, one shy of the owner record held by Castleton Farm.

Yannick Gingras, who drives Ariana G, has teamed with Takter on the three most recent Oaks victories. Gingras is tied with Glen Garnsey and Ron Pierce for the second-most wins in the event, trailing only Berndt Lindstedt’s four.

Elimination winners draw for inside posts 1-5. All other finalists will be placed in an open draw. Post positions for the $500,000 final will be drawn and morning lines assigned on Tuesday, Aug. 1, during a Facebook live event at 2 p.m. on the Meadowlands Facebook page. The draw will be streamed live on the Meadowlands website.

Following are the elimination fields with listed driver and trainer.

PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer

1. Glitzey Gal-David Miller-R. Nifty Norman 
2. Ice Attraction-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt
3. Dream Together-Dan Dube-Luc Blais
4. Ariana G-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter
5. Fine Tuned Lady-Corey Callahan-John Butenschoen
6. Dream Baby Dream-Rod Allen-Rod Allen
7. Treviso-Charlie Norris-Charlie Norris
8. Cool Cates-Andy McCarthy-Noel Daley
9. Sunshine Delight-Brett Miller-Staffan Lind

PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer
1. Hillarmbro-Trond Smedshammer-Trond Smedshammer
2. Magic Presto-Brian Sears-R. Nifty Norman
3. Thats All Moni-Tim Tetrick-Jimmy Takter
4. Southwind Avanti-Tim Tetrick-Anette Lorentzon
5. Overdraft Volo-Andy Miller-Julie Miller 
6. Caviart Wonder-Andy McCarthy-Noel Daley
7. Feed Your Head-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter
8. Broadway Idole-Scott Zeron-Jim Campbell
9. Evelyn-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt

-Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, please visit www.ustrotting.com