East Rutherford, NJ — With each having recorded a sharp score in their respective divisions of the Stanley Dancer Memorial, Back Of The Neck and Ready For Moni have been installed as the morning line favorites in their respective Hambletonian eliminations, which take place Saturday night (Aug. 1) at The Meadowlands. The Hambletonian final is Aug. 8.
In the first of two $50,000 eliminations, Back Of The Neck is listed at 2-1 from post one for driver Scott Zeron and trainer Åke Svanstedt. After missing by a nose in his seasonal debut on June 27 to Sorella – one of the Hambletonian Oaks favorites – the son of Ready Cash and Big Barb has reeled off two straight wins from off the pace in impressive fashion, scoring in the July 11 Reynolds in a lifetime best 1:52 before his Dancer win on July 18, also in 1:52.
“No, he is not one-dimensional,” said Zeron after being asked if his horse’s best game is coming from behind. “His best effort was on the front end in his first start. To have come home in :26.1 and get picked off at the last second, that was a great effort.
“I avoided the front end going forward because I wanted to teach him to do other things. [Having drawn post one] gives me options. I definitely don’t have one trip in mind. I avoided the front in his last two on purpose, but we will play it by ear. I’m happy with the post position.”
Ready For Moni will start at 5-2 from post eight in the second elimination as Nancy Takter and Yannick Gingras look to become the first trainer-driver team to sweep the Meadowlands Pace and The Hambletonian in the same year.
The son of Ready Cash and Nothing But Moni went a perfect cover trip in his only outing of 2020 when he won his Dancer split in a lifetime best 1:51.4 after kicking home in :27.1.
So, what about the outside post position?
“I’m a little indifferent about it,” said Takter. “On paper, it looks like we are in the easier of the two eliminations. I think we are in good shape. I think the eight is a good spot.”
Takter is not concerned about Ready For Moni having only had one outing this season:
“It’s just the way his schedule played out,” said Takter. “I would have preferred one or two more starts, but all of our horses have a good foundation. I think it’s a myth that these horses need a lot of races. They go so fast. I think [having too few starts] is better than having too many.”
For the complete post position draw of both Hambletonian eliminations, click here.
Fabulous Fillies: Attempting to become the next filly to win the Hambletonian (Atlanta was the last in 2018) are Ramona Hill (5-1 in the first elimination) and Sister Sledge (3-1 in elimination two).
Oaks a Singular Event: The $600,000 Hambletonian Oaks saw 12 horses enter, meaning that event for 3-year-old trotting fillies will not need eliminations and will be one dash for the cash on Aug. 8.
To view the complete list of horses entered, click here.
Post Draws Live: The post position draws for both the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks will take place during Saturday night’s program at The Meadowlands and will be broadcast live on the track’s in-house simulcast feed.