Female trainers experience recent success at Hambletonian
By TOM CANAVAN
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The Hambletonian is becoming a race that female trainers can win.
Linda Toscano become the first female conditioner to win trotting's biggest race, when Market Share won the Hambletonian in 2012.
Paula Wellwood become the second last year with Marion Marauder. There's a chance that Julie Miller can make it three in six years if her Devious Man wins the $1 million race for 3-year-olds at the Meadowlands on Saturday.
"Obviously this is a big week, this is what you strive for and I hope it comes together for us," Miller said this week.
When Miller says us, she means it. Her husband, Andy, will drive the colt, who is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the second of two $100,000 eliminations that will be raced Saturday to determine the field of 10 for the final. The top five finishers in the eliminations qualify for the final, which will be raced later in the day.
The Millers came close to winning the Hambletonian last year with Sutton, who finished third in a photo finish.
Devious Man, which is owned by the Andy Miller Stable and Stroy Inc., heads to the Hambletonian off a second-place finish to Walner in a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial.
Walner, last year's Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter, will miss the Hambletonian because of a minor injury. It cost Toscano a chance to win another Hambo.
The only drawback for Devious Man was the draw. The colt drew the No. 9 starting position.
"I'm not thrilled about the draw, but hopefully we can advance from there and get to the final," Andy Miller said. "Hopefully we can win (the elimination) and secure an inside spot for the final. If not, then hopefully we draw good in the final."
International Moni is the 5-2 favorite in the first eliminations. Driver Scott Zeron will be looking to become the first driver since John Campbell to win consecutive Hambletonians.
International Moni is undefeated in three races this year for trainer Frank Antonacci and the Moni Maker Stable that includes Antonacci's father, also Frank, Gerald Antonacci, and David Reid.
The Antonacci family and/or its Lindy Racing have been involved in the ownership of five Hambletonian winners: Lindy's Pride (1969), Speedy Crown (1971), Probe (1989), Harmonious (1990) and Victory Dream (1994).
The Hambletonian final is 5:11 p.m. and will air on CBS Sports Network. The $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters will be part of the 90-minute broadcast.
The field for the first elimination in post position order with odds:
Southwind Woody, 12-1; Bill's Man, 5-1; Guardian Angel, 10-1; Giveitgasandgo, 8-1; International Moni, 5-2; Stealth Hanover, 30-1; Victor Gio, 6-1; Long Tom, 3-1 and Jake, 8-1.
The field for the second elim:
What The Hill, 3-1; Seven And Seven, 8-1; Sortie, 10-1; Shake It Off Lindy, 20-1; Dover Dan, 8-1; Enterprise, 9-2; Southwind Cobra, 15-1; Achille Duharas, 20-1; Devious Man, 5-2 and Perfect Spirit, 12-1.
AP freelancer Mike Farrell contributed to this report.
Updated August 3, 2017