by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent
Louisville, KY — He’s arrived at the Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day with the likes of Conway Hall, Andover Hall, Cameron Hall, Ultimate Cameron and Creatine, but none of those horses were able to bring home any hardware for Bob Stewart.
The Lexington native, however, is hoping Bright Baby Blues, who ironically is a daughter of one of his champion trotters (Andover Hall) and the filly (Bar Slide) that triumphed over Ultimate Cameron in the 2010 edition of the Hambletonian Oaks, will finally put him in the winner’s circle.
“I’ll never forget that day,” he said of the 2010 Hambletonian Oaks. “We thought going into the race we had the best filly but Bar Slide really was coming into her own and she finished the season very strongly.
“We are hoping this filly (Bright Baby Blues) is following in her mother’s footsteps and her career takes the same path. She actually is the carbon copy of Bar Slide physically and looks exactly like her. She doesn’t look like her sire at all as she does not have his head and really resembles a Yankee Glide.”
Owned by Bluestone Farms and Fredericka Caldwell, Bright Baby Blues is the first foal out of her dam, who happens to be by Yankee Glide. She will attempt to imitate the efforts of her mother when she leaves from post position three in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks final on Saturday (Aug. 8). This contest is the 12th race on the card and the filly will be guided by David Miller. She is the 8-1 fourth choice on the morning line behind Wild Honey (5-2), elimination victress Lock Down Lindy (3-1) and Livininthefastlane (7-2).
The Hambletonian Oaks is part of a jammed-packed stakes card, with the $1.2 million Hambletonian Stakes for 3-year-old trotters as the centerpiece. The two $100,000 Hambletonian eliminations are races eight and nine and the $1 million final is race 13.
Post time for the first race is 12 noon. Cable channel CBS Sports Network will air coverage of the Cane Pace, Hambletonian Oaks and Hambletonian from 4 to 5:30 p.m. (EDT).
“We were really pleased with her effort in the elimination (won by Lock Down Lindy) as she was just outfinished by (runner-up) Wild Honey so it was a very nice third,” Stewart said. “After that race David suggested some changes and when a Hall of Fame driver talks you need to listen,” Stewart said. “She was wearing an open bridle and cotton in her ears because she tends to get a little worked up prior to a race. We are going to put her in a pull-down bridle and pop-out plugs. We found some that are similar to the texture of the cotton she was wearing. We are very hopeful she will take to the changes in the right way.”
As a 2-year-old Bright Baby Blues was first conditioned by Nifty Norman, then by Joe Holloway, who also trained her mother. She compiled a record of 12-2-4-1, earned $114,334 and trotted in 1:55f. Although she failed to make the final for the Breeders Crown after breaking in her elimination, she was second to Wild Honey in the $203,800 Matron final.
Transferred to the barn of Stewart for her 3-year-old campaign, Bright Baby Blues has amassed a resume of 8-1-2-2, collected $68,994 and has a seasonal mark of 1:56f from her victory in a $94,233 Pennsylvania Sire Stake contest on July 21.
“She really is coming around at the right time,” Stewart said. “It was perfect for us to get that nice easy win in the sire stakes to build her confidence. I love the post position she drew and how she is training. We think she will give a good account of herself and hopefully improve throughout the rest of the season.”
After her Hambletonian Oaks engagement, Bright Baby Blues will return to Pennsylvania, make an excursion to The Red Mile and most likely end her season at Hoosier Park.
“At the beginning of the year when we were making her stakes payments we weren’t really sure how she would progress because she was still on the small side and had those issues with getting so hot,” Stewart said. “That’s when I decided to not make her eligible for the Breeders Crown and go to Indiana with her after racing her at The Red Mile. That’s home and you always want to race in your hometown. We are looking forward to the meet there. I chose Indiana for her because the purse money there is quite good and Hoosier seems to be a great place to race.”
Saturday, however, has top billing on Stewart’s agenda and a victory in the Oaks would mean much more to him than a large paycheck. In 2002, Cameron Hall came into her edition of the Oaks undefeated on the season, but suffered her first loss in the elimination to My Starship before coming home second in the final to Windylane Hanover. Her daughter, Ultimate Cameron, as mentioned above, sustained the same fate.
“Winning this race with this filly would definitely be ironic,” Stewart said. “She is the daughter of the horse that beat us on a day that will never leave my memory. It would bring an odd sort of redemption if that happens, but would also be extremely rewarding personally.
“It just goes to show you never know how things will work out in this business, but I know one thing. We are definitely looking forward to Saturday. We are very excited to be in the race, with how she is doing and to see how it all plays out.”
Following is the field for the Hambletonian Oaks in post order, with drivers, trainers and morning line odds:
$500,000 Hambletonian Oaks-Race 12
1. Lock Down Lindy, Tim Tetrick, Tony Alagna, 3-1
2. Wild Honey, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 5-2
3. Bright Baby Blues, David Miller, Bob Stewart, 8-1
4. Lady Winona, Brian Sears, Julie Miller, 20-1
5. Rules Of The Road, Corey Callahan, Janice Connor, 8-1
6. Classical Annie, Brett Miller, Jim Arledge Jr., 30-1
7. Livininthefastlane, Andy Miller, Julie Miller, 7-2
8. Sarcy, Johnny Takter, Jimmy Takter, 10-1
9. Smokinmombo, Aaron Merriman, Chris Beaver, 12-1
10. Speak To Me, Scott Zeron, Jimmy Takter, 20-1
- Lock Down Lindy and Spirit To Win capture Hambletonian Oaks eliminations (Saturday, August 01, 2015)
Lock Down Lindy and Spirit To Win captured their respective $35,000 Hambletonian Oaks eliminations, the filly counterpart to the Hambletonian, for 3-year-old filly trotters on Saturday night at Meadowlands Racetrack.
- Hambletonian draws 19 starters (Monday, August 03, 2015)
Pinkman will start from the outside post 10 in the first of two eliminations in Saturday’s $1.2 million Hambletonian Stakes for 3-year-old trotters at Meadowlands Racetrack while the filly Mission Brief will leave from post two in the second elimination. The draws for the Hambletonian and $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks were conducted Monday afternoon at the Meadowlands.
- Oaks elimination winner Spirit To Win dies in jogging accident (Monday, August 03, 2015)
Hambletonian Oaks elimination winner Spirit To Win died Monday in a jogging accident, according to a tweet posted by All American Harnessbreds, which is headed by Spirit To Win’s breeder and co-owner Fred Hertrich III.
- Lock Down Lindy seeks winner’s circle in wide open Hambletonian Oaks (Wednesday, August 05, 2015)
Tony Alagna says Lock Down Lindy’s performance in her Hambletonian Oaks elimination last weekend was “a chance to show everybody she’s the filly I thought she was last year.” The trainer hopes she shows off again in Saturday’s $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks final for 3-year-old female trotters at Meadowlands Racetrack.