Deweycheatumnhowe heads into Saturday’s $1.5 million Hambletonian at the Meadowlands Racetrack having won all 14 of his career races. No horse has won the Hambletonian with an unblemished career record since the race went to its elimination-final format in 1997. Only six winners over the past 62 years were unbeaten at age 3: Donato Hanover (2007), Scarlet Knight (2001), Malabar Man (1997), Mack Lobell (1987), Sharp Note (1952) and Titan Hanover (1945).
Driven and trained by Ray Schnittker, who also is among the colt’s owners, Deweycheatumnhowe won his Hambletonian elimination race by six and a quarter lengths over Pine After Pine in 1:52.3 on July 26. Deweycheatumnhowe and Crazed, who was a Hambletonian elim winner in a lifetime best 1:52.2, are the only three-year-old trotters to win races in less than 1:53 this season.
“It’s nice to get in. You never know what is going to happen in an elimination,” said Schnittker, who has two third-place finishes in his previous Hambletonian starts. “He was very, very good and I was really happy with him. He’s just got awesome speed when you ask him to go. He did it very easy. It was probably one of his best miles ever.”
In addition to Deweycheatumnhowe, the Schnittker Stable will send Empire Breeders Classic winner Make It Happen into the Hambletonian final.
The connections of the elim winners will select their post positions prior to Tuesday’s draw.
“That’s the best, because 10 holes get you beat at this place,” Schnittker said. “We’ll be inside; one, two or three probably.”
Crazed’s elim victory was his third consecutive win, all with Tim Tetrick in the sulky. The colt, who has won four of five races this year and five of 10 lifetime, is trained by Frank Antonacci Jr., whose family, under the Lindy Racing Stable name, has enjoyed great success in the Hambletonian. Tetrick is 26; Antonacci, a graduate of Boston College, is 24.
“Dewey is the champion until someone dethrones him,” Tetrick said. “It seems like no one can even get to his wheel and he’s just overpowered all the other three-year-olds. Hopefully, we can have some luck and have a shot at it. [Crazed] has been really nice to drive. He’s got more power and has learned to carry his speed better. He’s done everything I’ve asked him to do.”
Also winning an elim was 22-1 longshot Atomic Hall, who rallied from fifth place in the stretch to beat favourite Celebrity Secret by a nose. He is trained by Trond Smedshammer, who conditioned 2004 Hambletonian winner Windsong’s Legacy. The victory was Atomic Hall’s first in six starts this year. He was driven by Eric Goodell.
“He likes to follow along and pass some horses at the end and [Saturday] he got the kind of trip he needs,” Smedshammer said. “It wasn’t a huge surprise to me. Obviously, he showed us something because we paid him into all these races. I wouldn’t do that if they were completely clunkers.”
Rounding out the field for the Hambletonian was Goodtimes Stakes winner Clerk Magistrate, Big Apple Deli, Kajan Kooker, and Velocity Hall.