EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (WFAN/AP) — Hambletonian Day belonged to driver George Brennan and a couple of trotters who provided a few surprises on the biggest day in harness racing.
Brennan guided Broad Bahn to a pace-setting 3¼-length victory in the $1.5 million Hambletonian for colts and geldings. His trip to the winner’s circle Saturday came a little more than a half hour after the driver piloted long-shot Bold and Fresh to an upset in the $750,000 Hambletonian Oaks for fillies.
Brennan is the second driver to win the Oaks and Hambletonian on the same day. Brian Sears did it two years ago with Broadway Schooner in the Oaks and Muscle Hill in the Hambletonian.
“This is a monumental day for me,” Brennan said. “I just remember when Sears did it a few years ago and remember what a day it was for him.”
Broad Bahn trotted the mile in 1:53, with Brennan helping the colt get the early lead. The opening half mile was done in an easy 56 seconds on a day when speed was not holding up at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
Favored Manofmanymissions and driver Andy Miller challenged Broad Bahn and Brennan in the stretch, but the race the result was all but decided when Manofmanymissions went off stride and finished eighth in the 10-horse field.
“It was a dream come true, everything worked out for us, trainer Noel Daley said.
Longshot Whiskey Tax, who was close to the lead in the early going, finished second. Opening Night, who was looking to give driver John Campbell a seventh Hambletonian win, was another two lengths back in third.
Chapter Seven, trained by cancer survivor Linda Toscano, was fourth. Toscano was trying to become the first female trainer to win trotting’s most prestigious race.
Board Bahn, who won one of the two eliminations for this race last weekend, paid $14.60, $7 and $5.60 in winning for the fourth time in eight starts this year. Whiskey Tax paid $26 and $11.60, while Opening Night showed at $6.40.
The victory in the Hambletonian capped a remarkable comeback for Broad Bahn, who was looking like the favorite for the Breeders Crown last year when he broke his leg.
The injury allowed Manofmanymissions to get into the Breeders Crown and that colt won the race and ignited his career. Broad Bahn didn’t get back to racing until late May and the son of Broadway Hall put an exclamation point on his return on Saturday.
The race went just as Brennan and Daley hoped after they selected the No. 1 post position in the draw on Tuesday.
The horses came to the gate and Brennan, who is nicknamed the ‘Minister of Speed, gunned Broad Bahn to the lead, taking the field through the opening quarter in 27.1 seconds. The second quarter was trotted in a more leisurely 28 4-5 and that was the difference.
The only threat came from Manofmanymissions and it failed.
In the $750,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old trotting fillies, Brennan moved Bold and Fresh to the lead in the stretch past the highly regarded Crys Dream and Jezzy and scored a half-length victory over fellow longshot Lady Rainbow. Crys Dream finished third.
Brennan kept the Doug Miller-trained filly going to the wire when it seemed as if she wanted to break stride. The pair covered the mile in 1:53 1-5. The daughter of SJ’s Cavier returned $51.40, $21.80 and $6.60 in winning for the fifth time in nine starts this year.
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