08/05/2017 6:09PM

Meadowlands: Perfect Spirit placed first in Hambletonian after What The Hill is disqualified

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Nikki Sherman
Perfect Spirit parades with the Hambletonian winner's blanket after being placed the winner of today's final

For the first time in the rich history of the Hambletonian, the final winner was disqualified and the runner-up, on this occasion Perfect Spirit, became the winner of the sport's biggest prize on Saturday afternoon.

Ake Svanstedt drove Perfect Spirit around the track and was nailed in the final strides by the pocket-sitting What The Hill., but moments after the finish, the judges flashed an inquiry sign, and the object of their concern was the race winner.

After some deliberation and numerous replays it was determined that while edging to the outside in-midstretch, David Miller and What The Hill made contact with Guardian Angel As, a horse that had been parked for the duration, forcing that rival to break stride.

Perfect Spirit was energized in the second heat after a solid effort from post 10 in his elimination. Driver Svanstedt put him on the point with a 27 1/5 opening quarter, ahead of What The Hill, as longshot Guardian Angel As raced parked. Svanstedt rated the pace to his liking as Guardian Angel As remained parked, and the middle-half turned into a crawl with fractions of 56 and 1:25 1/5.

Race favorite Devious Man rallied off cover to pose a threat, but the top pair were quite fresh at that juncture. Perfect Spirit tried to edge clear, but Miller angled What The Hill out and were able to roll by late in the 1:52 3/5 mile.  Devious Man finished third and was placed second, while Enterprise was advanced to third, followed by Bill's Man and Victor Gio It.

First elimination winner International Moni made a break in the early stages and was never a factor.

Perfect Spirit returned $17 with his fifth win of the season and obviously his biggest.  A $75,000 yearling purchase by Lennart Agren's SRF Stable of Delray Beach, Florida, Perfect Spirit was a solid third after getting parked out the entire first elimination heat.

"He raced absolutely great. He deserved it," said Agren. "I liked this horse from Harrisburg."

Driver David Miller called it "a tough break," regarding the takedown of What The Hill, a horse that briefly stood in the winner's circle before the inquiry sign was posted.