Hightstown, NJ — After weeks of seeing his horses at the top of the Hambletonian rankings, Anders Strom is finally just days from watching his group race in the $1 million event for 3-year-old trotters at The Meadowlands.
Strom, who races as Courant Inc., co-owns Greenshoe and Gimpanzee — who sit in the top two spots in Meadowlands announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin’s final Road to the Hambletonian ratings — as well as No. 4 Green Manalishi S. Greenshoe and Gimpanzee have occupied the top positions for all 11 weeks of the rankings.
All three horses are trained by Marcus Melander.
“It feels just great,” Strom said. “Obviously, I hoped all three would stay sound and healthy for entry into the big race and here we are. Marcus has had a good plan for the three and, so far, it has worked out just fine.”
Greenshoe has won four of five races this year, with his only loss a second-place finish by a head to Marseille in the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial. Greenshoe heads to the Hambletonian off a 1:50.1 win in his division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial on July 13 at The Meadowlands. The time is the fastest of the season for a 3-year-old trotter.
“He is the most capable and he has matured well this season and looked better for every start,” said Strom, who owns Greenshoe with former New York Red Bulls coach Hans Backe, Lars Granqvist, and Morten Langli. “He lost in the Beal, but I just saw that as a minor bump in the road; the horse finished fantastically and looked really sharp.
Gimpanzee is undefeated in 12 career starts and will try to become only the second unbeaten horse to win the Hambletonian. Deweycheatumnhowe accomplished the feat in 2008. Gimpanzee, owned by Courant Inc. and Lennart Agren’s S R F Stable, was the 2018 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter. He is 3-for-3 this year, with all his starts in state-bred restricted races in New York.
“Gimpanzee is so smart,” Strom said. “He has not put one foot wrong and it will be very interesting to see him in this situation on Saturday. Even if he doesn’t win the Hambletonian, I think he will be one of the top horses when we summarize the 3-year-olds toward the end of the season.”
Green Manalishi S has won two of four races this season. He heads to the Hambletonian off a win in a division of the Tompkins-Geers on July 20. He finished second in a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial, behind Swandre The Giant, and third in the Beal Memorial.
The colt has finished in the top three in all 14 career races, winning seven. He is owned solely by Courant Inc.
“Green Manalishi has been raced with one eye on the rest of the season; there is an option to ship him to Sweden for the $1.1 million Kriterium, which is 1-1/2 miles for Swedish-born horses that should suit him as a glove,” Strom said. “But we haven’t decided yet. He looks like he is trending upwards and I believe he can race well on Saturday.”
Sixteen horses entered the Hambletonian, so two eight-horse eliminations will be contested Saturday and the top-five finishers from each division will advance to the final later that afternoon. The Hambletonian Day card begins at noon. The Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks will be featured during a live 90-minute broadcast on CBS Sports Network from 4-5:30 p.m. (EDT).
“All three horses are very strong and sound, so two heats will normally work in our favor, even if you never can be sure if the individual horse is suited for racing twice on the same day,” Strom said. “Our horses have proven that they are more than able, but I have respect for the opposition; any horse can lose on the day. Fingers crossed!”