07/29/2014 5:26PM

Meadowlands: Hambletonian posts drawn; one dash for the cash

Derick Giwner

For the first time in the 89-year history of the Hambletonian, one race will decide the champion. A purse of $1,006,125 will be on the line as 11 three-year-old trotters head behind the gate at 5:15 PM on Saturday at the Meadowlands.

The undefeated-in-2014 Father Patrick, part of a three-pronged attack from the barn of trainer Jimmy Takter, drew outside post 10 and was installed as the 4-5 morning line choice to capture the most prestigious prize in the sport. With six victories this year and a nearly flawless 16-for-17 career record, Father Patrick enters the Hambletonian, race 13 on a stakes-filled program, off a sharp preparatory qualifier.

Regular driver Yannick Gingras will once again be in the bike as he eyes his first-ever Hambletonian trophy.

“I couldn’t be any more confident, but anything can happen,” said Gingras. “I have never driven a horse with as much pure talent as he has. This horse has it all.”

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Takter, who will be attempting to become only the fifth trainer to win the Hambletonian both before and after entering the Harness Racing Hall of Fame, will also drive in the race. The two-time Hambletonian winner (Muscle Massive—2010 and Malabar Man—1997) steers Trixton from post 7 as the 7-2 second choice. The 53-year-old conditioner also sends out Nuncio with driver John Campbell from post 5 (9-2).

Trixton is off a six-length victory in the Reynolds stake at the Meadowlands on July 19. He stopped the clock in 1:51 4/5 that night. Nuncio started in a separate division of the Reynolds and scored a narrow three-quarters-of-a-length score in the exact time. Both horses were defeated in the $317,000 Stanley Dancer on July 12 by Father Patrick, with Trixton taking the loss by just under two lengths.

“All three are coming into the races the best that I can have them,” said Takter.

The logical non-Takter contenders in the field include Datsyuk (Post 4), Harper Blue Chip (Post 9), Resolve (Post 1), and Royal Ice (Post 6).

Datsyuk has yet to lose to any horse other than the Takter troika in 2014. The Charlie Norris trained and driven colt has three wins in seven 2014 races. Harper Blue Chip failed in his previous stakes engagements but enters Saturday off a pair of confidence-building victories at Mohawk. Resolve and Royal Ice literally joined the Hambletonian trail in the last two weeks. The former, making his first start for trainer Nancy Johansson,  barely lost to Nuncio in the Reynolds, and the latter powered away to an eight-length 1:51 3/5 win last week at the Meadowlands.

Longer-priced horses with hopes of a major upset are Don Dorado (Post 11), Doncango (Post 3), Il Sogno Dream (Post 8) and JJ Alex (Post 2).

The draw for the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks and $300,650 John Cashman, Jr. Memorial were also conducted on Tuesday afternoon at the Meadowlands.

Designed To Be was installed as the lukewarm 2-1 early choice from post 1 in the 11-horse Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old filly trotters. Shake It Cerry will open at 5-2 in the wagering from the second tier in post 11.

Designed To Be is the fastest filly sophomore of 2014 with a 1:51 3/5 mark taken at Pocono in June. Shake It Cerry has won her last three starts against many of the same rivals she will face on Saturday.

Rounding out the field for the Oaks (in post order) is: Cee Bee Yes, Vanity Matters, Harley Momma, Take The Money, Tweet Me, Lifetime Pursuit, Heaven’s Door, Cooler Schooner, and Nitro Nittany.

Likely heavy Cashman favorite Sebastian K was able to choose his post by virtue of his elimination victory on July 26. The 8-year-old older trotting star lines up behind post 1 in the field of 10 for driver/trainer Ake Svanstedt. Fellow elimination winner Archangel selected post 4. Yannick Gingras will drive.

The remainder of the field for the Cashman (in post order) lines up as follows: Your So Vain, Arch Madness, Uncle Peter, Appomattox, Mister Herbie, Intimidate, Market Share, and Sevruga.

The Hambletonian and entire Meadowlands Saturday card can be viewed on DRF’s Hambletonian Event Page. Video and full-card analysis, featured stories, and much more will be added to the page as the big day nears.