07/03/2014 3:03PM

Meadowlands: Creatine draws post 14 for inaugural Maturity

Derick Giwner
Creatine won the Kentucky Futurity in 2013.

For longtime trainer Bob Stewart, the post draw for Saturday’s $484,850 Hambletonian Maturity at the Meadowlands was a first.

“I turned 59 today and that’s the first time I’ve ever had a horse draw post 14,” Stewart said.

His Creatine, a heat winner in last year’s Hambletonian at the Meadowlands and the winner of the Kentucky Futurity last fall, starts from the second tier in one of the largest fields ever assembled at the East Rutherford oval.

The race itself, an effort by the Hambletonian Society to bring horses back at age four and give them a large enough purse structure, was a splendid idea. One that Stewart liked enough except for a few missing pieces here and there.

“There are no restrictions in the conditions for all horses to start on the gate. For an $8,000 starting fee I think it’s only fair to start on the gate,” Stewart said.

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At the same time, this year’s collection of four-year-olds, at least to date, leaves much to be desired as the aged trotting ranks have been taken over by the eight-year-old Sebastian K.

“I’ve never seen a standardbred as good as that horse,” Stewart stated.

In fact, Creatine’s last start came against Sebastian K.

“He raced as good as you can race and didn’t get a check,” said Stewart, “They went a slow first half and he was coming from off the pace. He didn’t pass a horse and no one passed him.”

After a third-place finish in the Charlie Hill at Scioto, the son of Andover Hall was sixth to Sebastian K in a leg of the TVG series at the Meadowlands on June 20.

“I’m happy with the way he’s come back. He had two good qualifiers and he did what was expected of him in the two races,” said Stewart.

Of course, with 14 horses in the field, 10 to start on the gate and four in trailing positions, and the race being contested at a mile and one-eighth, Stewart is at a loss on what to expect.

“I can visualize 10 scenarios and nine of them are bad,” said Stewart.

If there is one edge afforded to Creatine in this race it is certainly that he has raced at the highest level of any of the horses in the field this year. While he will be meeting up with Hambletonian winner Royalty For Life (post 6), Breeders Crown winner Spider Blue Chip (post 8), and last year’s Horse of the Year Bee A Magician (post 13), none of the aforementioned have raced with Sebastian K this year. Bee A Magician, undefeated as a three-year-old, will be facing male competition for the first time in the Hambletonian Maturity as she looks for her first win in four starts as a four-year-old.

Hall of Famer Mike Lachance will have the assignment of navigating the large field for Stewart and Creatine’s owner Diamond Creek Farm.

In spite of training some of the sport’s greatest trotters of the last quarter century, Stewart has yet to win his first Hambletonian. The trainer had some great ones including the three full brothers named Conway Hall, Angus Hall and Andover Hall. None were successful on the first Saturday in August but all three have accomplished tremendous longevity and success in the stallion ranks.

For Stewart, the extended success of his ex-racing stars has been as important to him as it has been impressive to the trotting world.

“We own part of Conway Hall and Angus Hall, and each year that helps an awful lot,” said Stewart of the two very successful stallions. Conway Hall is and has been one of the top stallions in New York for the last decade and Angus Hall has been a staple in the Ontario Sire Stakes as well.

Would Stewart trade the success Conway and Angus are having at stud for the experience of winning a Hambletonian?

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“At my age, I’d have to say that them being successful stallions continues to make a positive impact on my life. I wouldn’t trade that for anything,” Stewart said. “Now if I was 30 years old today I might answer that question differently.”

The Hambletonian Maturity is race 10 on a 13-race Meadowlands program that includes two Meadowlands Pace eliminations for three-year-old pacers, a single Mistletoe Shalee elimination for three-year-old filly pacers and a large assortment of New Jersey Sire Stakes races for freshman pacing colts and fillies.

First post time is slated for 6:30 PM.