EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Southwind Frank starts from post 5 as the 4/5 favorite in the second of two Hambletonian eliminations on Saturday at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
The top five finishers in each $70,000 elimination return later that afternoon in the $1 million final for 3-year-old trotters.
Bar Hopping is the 9/5 favorite in the other elimination from the rail.
The season-long favorite to capture the Hambletonian, Southwind Frank enters the trotting classic fresh from a victory here in the slop last weekend in the Reynolds Memorial Stakes. It was Southwind Frank's fifth win in six starts this season, and 16th in 18 lifetime races.
As usual, Yannick Gingras will be in the sulky for trainer Ron Burke.
Jimmy Takter goes for an unprecedented third consecutive Hambletonian. He is one shy of the training record of five held by Bill Haughton, Stanley Dancer and Ben White.
Takter has stacked the deck with five entrants, including Bar Hopping with Tim Tetrick set to drive. Takter also sends out Lagerfeld, Love Matters, Jimmy William, and Reigning Moni.
''Of course, Bar Hopping is my best chance,'' Takter said. ''I think this year is very open. Southwind Frank stands out a little bit more. I think I have Bar Hopping on the right plan, and I'm really happy with how he's progressing.''
Bar Hopping was the winner of the only two races that Southwind Frank lost.
Other trainers with multiple entries in the Hambletonian are Julie Miller (Milligan's School and Sutton) and Ake Svanstedt (Mavens Way and The Royal Harry).
All The Time, also trained by Takter, is the 9/5 favorite in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, the companion event for trotting fillies.
Takter has trained the last three winners of both the Hambletonian and the Oaks.