Mission Brief and Pinkman favored in Hambletonian elims
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The $1.2 million Hambletonian at the Meadowlands this weekend is going to feature last year's top colt and filly trotters.
Pinkman, the Dan Patch winner as the top colt, and Mission Brief, the filly champion, were among 19 horses entered Monday in the world's most famous race for trotters.
There will be two elimination heats Saturday, with the top five finishers in each race advancing to a winner-take-all nationally televised final at 5:15 p.m.
Pinkman, who has won 6 of 7 starts this year, is the 8-5 favorite in the 10-horse first elimination. Mission Brief, who was won 3 of 4 starts, is the 6-5 favorite in the second elimination. Each elimination has a $100,000 purse.
Yannick Gingras is listed to drive both horses, so he will have to make a decision if both reach the final, which is worth $1 million.
Gingras will have very different looks at the start of each elimination.
Pinkman drew to outside No. 10 post position for trainer Jimmy Takter, who has won this race three times.
Mission Brief drew the No. 2 post for trainer Ron Burke, who is looking for his first Hambletonian victory.
''It's a perfect draw for her because she doesn't have to have the lead,'' Burke said of Mission Brief. ''She can get away whereever she wants to get away and that seems to be her favorite way, fall in where she has to and move from there.''
Takter, who drove and trained last year's Hambletonian winner, Trixton, has five horses entered in the two eliminations.
Takter's Canepa Hanover, who has finished within a length of Pinkman in his last two starts, is the 3-1 second choice in the first elimination despite drawing the No. 9 post. Centurion ATM is the 9-2 third choice with trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt in the bike.
''It is what it is,'' Takter said of the draw. ''If they are good, and Canepa and Pinkman are both very, very good, they just have to overcome the post and get in the top five and get into the final. They are pretty good horses.''
Takter also has the second and third choices in the second elimination against Mission Brief.
Uncle Lasse is the 5-2 second choice, starting from the No. 7 post position with Takter listed to drive. French Laundry is the 4-1 third choice with Brett Miller in the sulky.
The 16-race card will also feature the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old trotters, the $319,400 Cane Pace, the opening leg of the pacing Triple Crown and the $301,500 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters.
A horse named Spirit to Win was killed in training Monday, said Tom Charters president of the Hambletonian Society. The horse won an elimination for the Oaks on Saturday and was expected to be the morning-line favorite.
Charters said the filly broke loose while training at a track in Columbus, New Jersey, and was fatally injured.
Wild Honey, who is trained by Takter, was made the 5-2 favorite after drawing the No. 2 post position. Gingras is listed to drive.
Lock Down Lindy, who won other elimination Saturday, drew the No. 1 post and is the 3-1 second choice favorite for driver Tim Tetrick.