08/05/2015 3:13PM

Meadowlands: Hambletonian Oaks has many contenders

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Derick Giwner
Lock Down Lindy scored impressive with a 1:51 4/5 win in her Hambletonian Oaks elimination.

The $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks asks its fillies to race two times to be declared the champion, but unlike the open division the fillies are entitled to rest seven days between races as opposed to one hour. That should leave ten fillies ready when the gate wings close for the 12th race on Saturday afternoon at The Meadowlands.

The Oaks, like the Hambletonian, is the most prized stakes race for sophomore filly trotters. This year’s edition may be as wide open as any in recent memory and though there were two eliminations last Saturday, there’s only one filly entering the final on a winning note. Lock Down Lindy earned the right to draw inside and the daughter of Lucky Chucky was able to make good on that advantage, landing the coveted pole position. Spirit To Win, perhaps the more impressive of the two elimination winners, succumbed to a tragic training accident on Monday morning casting a pall over the event.

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Lock Down Lindy had only won one time in nine starts as a 3-year-old prior to her 1:51 4/5 career best mile last Saturday evening.

The victory, at 7-1 odds, may have surprised some in the wagering public but it came as no shock to her trainer.

“Everybody knows what I’ve always thought of this filly,” said Tony Alagna.

“We’ve been very conservative trying to give her a trip. Maybe we’ve been trying to be a little too conservative with her.”

In the Oaks trials, driver Tim Tetrick didn’t wait for things to happen, he made them happen. The daughter of New York-based sire Lucky Chucky was in motion from the start and though the pace was extremely quick with a 55 1/5 opening half, Tetrick had her in full flight to secure the front on the final turn. It was a stark contrast from the one-run type miles she had been given in the Zweig, Del Miller and Reynolds stakes leading up to the Oaks.

Clearly Lock Down Lindy is peaking at the right time.

Yet the rail may not be the best place to start in this field of 10 as there is plenty of speed and an uncovered trip for the $500,000 purse may see a horse get parked a little longer. In her elimination, pacesetter Gatka Hanover was already done when Lock Down Lindy moved. Saturday’s competition may prove more of a challenge for Tetrick and his charge.

Wild Honey is likely to get public support. A winner in 10 of 12 starts as a 2-year-old, the Cantab Hall-sired miss came back to win two of her first three races as a sophomore but has since gone on a three race losing streak. Trainer Jimmy Takter has made it a habit of prepping his horses for the big ones and he’s enlisted Yannick Gingras to guide the filly from post two. Wild Honey was two lengths behind Lock Down Lindy in last week’s elimination heat, but she did lose momentum when the winner sprinted away on the final turn and then came on solidly late.

Trainer Julie Miller has a pair in the Oaks with Liviniinthefastlane, a solid second in last week’s trials, the stronger of the two on paper. A daughter of Donato Hanover, Livininthefastlane has shown early speed and stamina, winning seven of her 16 lifetime starts with a 1:53 mark taken this year at The Meadows.

Lady Winona picks up Brian Sears from post four for Miller. After going winless in seven trips to the post as a freshman, Lady Winona has earned $78,563 this year racing primarily on the New York Sire Stakes circuit.

The Pennsylvania-bred Smokinmombo has been impressive with four wins this season for trainer Chris Beaver. Aaron Merriman will guide the daughter of Explosive Matter from post nine. Handled conservatively in the trials, Smokinmombo has shown the ability to leave and finish sharply making her a clear contender in the field.

At times this year Rules Of The Road, the lone Muscle Hill-sired filly in the race, has shown extreme speed while cutting the pace. Trainer Janice Connor has kept the filly at the Meadowlands primarily over the last few months with the exception of a trip to Goshen to capture a division of the Landmark on July 4. Corey Callahan will steer the filly from post five.

Johnny Takter will drive Sarcy (post 8) for his brother and this filly shouldn’t be counted out. A winner four times in 2015, she was a solid third in her elimination heat. Sarcy’s dam, Southwind Allaire, captured the Oaks for trainer Jimmy Takter in 2003.