07/29/2015 9:17PM

Meadowlands: Can Donatomite place Smedshammer back in the spotlight?

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Derick Giwner
Donatomite will look for his first win of the year on Friday at the Meadowlands.

It has been 11 years since trainer Trond Smedshammer stood in the winner’s circle with Windsong’s Legacy after winning the Hambletonian. On Friday night at the Meadowlands, the accomplished horseman will send out Donatomite in what he hopes will be a final prep for the main event on August 8.

Donatomite was perfect in three starts as a 2-year-old and Smedshammer had high hopes for the son of Donato Hanover-Malvictorian. Just as the colt was ready to qualify for the first time in 2015, he was hit by an illness.

“He was hit by something. The best I can describe it is Lyme Disease. He couldn’t even trot or jog. He had pain everywhere,” said Smedshammer, who put his Hambo prospect on the medication doxycycline.

Once treated, Donatomite hit the track with two solid qualifiers at the Meadowlands before heading to Pocono Downs. He was a decent third in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action before taking on open foes in the Earl Beal Memorial over the same oval.

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In his Beal elimination, Donatomite found himself in striking position but made a costly break and failed to make the final. Instead he raced in the consolation and wound up parked from post eight yet still finished third.

“I felt like he was sitting on a big race before he broke,” said Smedshammer, who also drives Donatomite.

Donatomite’s most recent race was against more top-level competition in the Stanley Dancer at the Meadowlands. Smedshammer left strong with the colt and found himself sitting in second at the head of the stretch, but the Michael Andrew-owned homebred lacked a powerful late kick.

“I had to extend him more than I wanted because I didn’t want to be stuck behind Whom Shall I Fear, who hadn’t been racing well,” said Smedshammer. “He felt good when I was locked in but was all out under the wire. It could have been a mental thing. Some of the Donato Hanover’s are a bit peculiar with their minds.”

Donatomite will face a strong field of 3-year-old colts and geldings on Friday night, including The Bank, who bested him by almost two lengths in a stellar 1:50 4/5 mile in the Dancer on July 18. The Bank is coupled in the wagering with fellow Jimmy Takter trainee French Laundry.

While some trainers might be looking for a big mile from their charge to signify that they belong in a race like the Hambletonian, Smedshammer is just looking for a good race.

“I don’t want him to bottom out before the Hambletonian,” said Smedshammer, who admitted that if he knew this race would have come up so tough he may have qualified the horse instead.

With over 550 driving wins and well over 1,000 wins and $43 million in horse earnings to his credit as a trainer, Smedshammer has seen the highs and lows of the sport. He was on the top of the world when driving Windsong’s Legacy to a Triple Crown season in 2004 and had one of the top earning stables in the country for nearly a decade. But in recent years Smedshammer has focused more on New Yrok bred horses and shied away from the pricy yearlings at the sales.

“I didn’t like the way the business was headed and is still heading, so I’ve been careful with the stock I’ve purchased,” said Smedshammer. “The business is not very healthy. The pressure is too great on the 2-year-olds in the Grand Circuit with the amount of you have to invest. If you don’t hit with a top five earner, you can’t make money.”

While he has avoided the primetime yearlings, Smedshammer still hopes to come across the occasional star and reach the spotlight once again.

“I do want to get back to the big races,” said Smedshammer. “If the right horse comes around, I have all the confidence in my training.”

We will find out on August 8 if Donatomite is that right horse.