07/30/2014 10:51AM

Meadowlands: Sears hopes for chance to shine in Hambo Oaks

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Derick Giwner
Designed To Be has recorded the fastest mile time for a 3-year-old filly trotter in 2014.

What Brian Sears couldn’t take care of on the racetrack at the Meadowlands over the last few weeks, on Tuesday, the post position gods corrected. His world champion filly Designed To Be not only landed the pole position for Saturday’s $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, but archrival Shake It Cerry, her nemesis in the Del Miller Memorial and in last week’s Oaks prep, won’t have the luxury of getting in her way at the outset. That’s because Shake It Cerry will start the race behind Designed To Be from the second tier in post 11.

When asked about the current condition of Designed To Be, Sears’ frustration was obvious as he reflected on the last two races.

“I really haven’t had a chance to race her the last couple of times so I don’t know,” Sears said about the two trips where Designed To Be was a victim of varying circumstances.

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“Last week Ronnie (Pierce) got cute,” said Sears, referring to Pierce’s slowing down the pace with Shake It Cerry and then accelerating when Sears pulled the pocket with Designed To Be. “It was a prep race and I wasn’t looking to get into a pissing contest.”

In the Del Miller, Designed To Be was trapped inside after getting passed early by two fillies. She had the rail in that encounter and was locked in when a longshot remained at her flank during the middle half of the mile.

“It’s not easy when you have to drive against three horses from the same stable. Whether it’s three from Takter’s or the Burkes,” said Sears.

Prior to the Del Miller, Designed To Be set a world record defeating Pierce and Shake It Cerry in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes event at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. On that occasion Sears got the Donato Hanover-sired miss to the front before the half and never looked back, trotting her mile in 1:51 3/5 and putting the only blemish on Shake It Cerry’s 2014 record in the process.

Perhaps the fortunes of Designed To Be will be much different this week. Her trainer Julie Miller has two other fillies in the contest. Cee Bee Yes starts from post two and Take The Money from post five in the field of 11. So this time around there could be enough protection for Sears and his filly to avoid traffic and get a chance to actually race for the first time in more than six weeks.

The draw played out reasonably well for Designed To Be, with Shake It Cerry in the second tier and speedsters Heaven's Door (post eight) and Cooler Schooner (post nine) on the outside.

Owned by Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz, Designed To Be will attempt to lead them to another Oaks triumph. The pair teamed up with driver Andy Miller to capture the 2008 edition with Creamy Mimi.

The homebred Designed To Be finished first or second in seven of eight starts as a freshman, good for $286,186 in the process. This year she’s won two of only four starts with earnings over $120,000.

Sears will be looking for his third Hambletonian Oaks triumph, having captured the richest edition in 2009 behind Broadway Schooner and scoring with Horse of the Year Bee A Magician last year.

The Hambletonian Oaks goes as race 12 on the 15-race afternoon program with first post at high noon.

Sears hopes to have a big day for trainer Julie Miller. He’ll be driving her horses in both the $352,050 Merrie Annabelle and in the $355,500 Peter Haughton, both trotting events for two-year-olds.

“I like Livininthefastlane and Guess Whos Back,” said Sears when asked about his chances for victory on Saturday afternoon.

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Livininthefastlane drew post eight in the Merrie Annabelle. Though the Donato Hanover-sired filly raced from well off the pace against Mission Brief in her elimination last week, Sears liked what he saw from her when she captured a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes event at The Meadows on July 11 in 1:56 1/5. Libfeld and Katz own the filly.

Guess Whos Back is a sharp-looking Muscles Yankee-sired colt that has won two of three races this year for trainer Nik Drennan, including the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes championship on July 12 at the Meadowlands. Joe Davino and Brad Shackman share ownership in the colt that gets underway from post five in the Haughton.

$500,000 Hambletonian Oaks - Race 12 (8/2)

POST HORSE DRIVER MORNING LINE
1 DESIGNED TO BE BRIAN SEARS 2-1
2 CEE BEE YES MARCUS MILLER 20-1
3 VANITY MATTERS SCOTT ZERON 30-1
4 HARLEY MOMMA COREY CALLAHAN 15-1
5 TAKE THE MONEY DAVE PALONE 12-1
6 TWEET ME BRETT MILLER 30-1
7 LIFETIME PURSUIT YANNICK GINGRAS 5-1
8 HEAVEN'S DOOR AKE SVANSTEDT 9-2
9 COOLER SCHOONER JOHN CAMPBELL 12-1
10 NITRO NITTANY HOWARD PARKER 30-1
11 SHAKE IT CERRY RON PIERCE 5-2

 

John B. Sweet More than 1 year ago
1 - 2 -8 and don't be late!
Blaine MacMillan More than 1 year ago
If Cooler Schooner stays flat through the first turn, she'll be long gone....You heard it here first....
Barbara Longphee More than 1 year ago
Best of Luck Brian..Go Gettem
Steve More than 1 year ago
Julie Miller is the best trotting trainer out there...considering her stable is 1/4 the size of Takter who is overrated....Julie with her husband Andy is the best duo...hope Sears don't leave from the 1 hole so he can keep Shake it Cerry further back...then he can make a 1/4 move ...Take the Money will leave so Sears get on top easy at the 1/4 pole and the final time will be 1:50