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Lachance, Burgess named grand marshalls
Thursday, June 10, 2004 - from the Meadowlands Publicity Department

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East Rutherford, NJ --- Hall of Fame driver Michel Lachance of Englishtown, N.J, and horse owner Robert Burgess of Campbellville, Ont. will serve as grand marshals of the second annual Hambletonian Parade, which will take place on Saturday, July 31.

The 1.1 mile parade through Rutherford, N.J., which will commence at 10 a.m. (EDT), will feature numerous equine groups, vintage vehicles, live music, and the trainers and drivers of many of the past winners of the prestigious $1.2 million Hambletonian, a classic race for 3-year-old trotters which has been contested at the Meadowlands since 1981. The Hambletonian dates back to 1926.

The parade will kick off the Hambletonian Festival at the Meadowlands, a week of stakes races and special events which will culminate on Hambletonian Day on Saturday, August 7. Post time for the Hambletonian Day races is 11:30 a.m. (EDT). The Hambletonian will be broadcast live on CBS-TV.

Lachance, who has won four Hambletonians, was behind the 2003 winner Amigo Hall, who is co-owned by Burgess.

The winning connections of each year’s Hambletonian will be invited to serve as grand marshals the succeeding year.

For the inaugural parade in 2003, the honor was accorded to John Campbell, who has won an unprecedented five editions of the Hambletonian, in 1987 with Mack Lobell, 1988 with Armbro Goal, 1990 with Harmonious, 1995 with Tagliabue, and 1998 with Muscles Yankee.

Lachance is a member of the select group of four win drivers with Ben White, William Haughton, and Stanley Dancer. Lachance’s four previous winners were Victory Dream in 1994, Continentalvictory in 1996, Self Possessed in 1999, and Amigo Hall in 2003. He will have two of his grandchildren, Dakodah and Timothy Sheeky, with him during the parade.

Burgess, father of the colt’s trainer, Blair Burgess, co-owns Amigo Hall with Walnut Hall Ltd of Lexington, Ky., and Karin Olsson-Burgess of Milton, Ont., Blair Burgess’ wife.

The parade marshals will share the honor of escorting the Hambletonian trophy.

The parade, down Park Avenue, will conclude at Lincoln Park, where the stars of the Hambletonian will sign autographs and there will be free children’s entertainment, vendors, displays, and live music.

Loyal Opposition joins mares tuning up or next week’s $238,600 Lady Liberty

Loyal Opposition, who has spent most of her career campaigning in the Midwest, will test some of the best mares in training on Friday night in a $40,000 Mares Open at the Meadowlands, a tune-up for the $238,600 Lady Liberty Final, to be raced on June 18.

The Dan Patch Award-winning pacing filly at two, the daughter of Cole Muffler--Tising Tising is now a 4-year-old and will be facing older and more experienced mares in the weeks ahead.

“Last year she was without question the best in Illinois, and she put in some good miles on the Grand Circuit,” said her owner, 22-year-old Daniel Waxman of Ancaster, Ont. “She was second in the Fan Hanover Final at Woodbine, second in the Matron Stakes Final, third in the Breeders Crown, and fourth in the Mistletoe Shalee. She didn’t win any of the big ones, but she was right there in all of them. She’s just a top, consistent mare. Hopefully, she’s matured enough that we can gain at least one position this year.”

Loyal Opposition will face six other mares in this Friday night’s fifth race feature and is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line and will leave from post position five. All but one of the mares, Valiant Heart N, will advance to the $238,600 Lady Liberty Final, in which they will be joined by three of the toughest pacers in training, Eternal Camnation, Carolina Sunshine, and Bunny Lake.

“There will be no easy races against this vintage crop, and you can’t expect to win every single week with Eternal Camnation back,” said Waxman. “They’re all great mares in their own right. Hopefully, one time you get the right trip, and we’ll go from there. I certainly think we can be competitive with them.

“She’s always been good from day one since we got her as a yearling,” said Waxman, who will head to law school in the fall. “She’s come back extremely well and we’ve been racing her in Chicago getting her ready for the major events at the Meadowlands. She’s been racing great in Chicago and hopefully she can peak at the right times. (Trainer) Ervin Miller picked her out as a yearling for $47,000 at the Cottonwood Sale. She was his number one pick. He loved her as an individual, and because of her pedigree. She’s from the family of China Princess. “(The price of) $47,000 at the time was not cheap for an Illinois-bred filly. Ervin has never led us wrong on any horse. In January of her 2-year-old year he told me, ‘Dan, if this isn’t the best pacing filly in Illinois this year I’ll eat my driving suit!’

“We had always loved racing at the fairs with (trotting trainer) Jan Johnson, like Springfield (Ill.) and Du Quoin (Ill.),” added Waxman, who also campaigns Uncommon Scents, the 3-Year-Old Filly Trotter of the Year in Illinois in 2003.

“It was just so relaxed and away from the high-pressured atmosphere of the racetrack. We wanted to race some Illinois-breds, so we hooked up with the late Brian Pinske. Through Brian we met Ervin Miller.”

Loyal Opposition has already banked $1,407,342, has 24 wins, seven seconds, and five thirds in 40 starts. Only four of her previous career starts have come at the Meadowlands. She made no starts over the East Rutherford oval in 2002 and last year, at age three, she competed in the Mistletoe Shalee, where she finished second in her elimination on July 25 and fourth in the $400,000 final on August 2, and in the Breeders Crown, in which she finished third in both her elimination on November 22 and in the $670,000 final on November 29.

This year, based in Chicago, she has compiled a record of three wins and one second in five starts.

“She broke a track record at Maywood Park (1:521) a couple of weeks ago,” said Waxman. “There was no intention to do so, but (driver) Andy Miller wanted to leave with her a bit because he hadn’t been doing that. Ryan Anderson decided to park her as far as he could. She hit the quarter in :262 and still came home in :283, and very strong. She can race any way you want.

“She qualified nicely at the Big M (in 1:524 on June 4),” he added. “There was no open mares last week, and we wanted to keep her tight because she’s not great with a lot of time between races. It looks like she’s ready to go. Andy Miller is driving Fox Valley Flan in the Elegant Image eliminations (at Woodbine), so John Campbell will drive her (this week).

“She’ll be at the Meadowlands for the next couple of months, then ship to Woodbine and back to Illinois for their Super Night,” Waxman noted.

The field for the $40,000 Mares Open pace, the fifth race, from the rail out, includes Sure Sign, Brian Sears, 5-1; Valiant Heart N, George Brennan, 10-1; Maybe A Rita, Jim Morrill,Jr., 12-1; Always Cam, David Miller, 4-1; Loyal Opposition, John Campbell, 3-1; Animated Art, Michel Lachance, 8-1 and Burning Point, Ron Pierce, 9-5. All but Valiant Heart N will advance to the Lady Liberty Final and will be joined by Bunny Lake, Carolina Sunshine and Eternal Camnation.

Around the Meadowlands

The deadline approaches for applications for the second annual Clyde Hirt Sports Media Workshop for college students interested in sports communications. The three-day workshop will run from August 5 to 7, which coincides with Hambletonian Week at the Meadowlands, and provides a program that includes guest speakers from the world of print, radio, and television journalism. Offered by the U.S. Harness Writers’ Association, the workshop will take place at the Meadowlands Racetrack. For more details, contact Anne Doolin via e-mail at at or call Ken Weingartner at Harness Racing Communications and (732) 780-3700. The deadline for applications is June 30.

The $400,000 (guar.) National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Pick 4 may be watched and wagered on at the Meadowlands this Saturday, June 12. The wager calls for the successful selection of the winners of four major Thoroughbred stakes, the Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont Park, which will start at 4:20 p.m. (EDT), the Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs, 4:40 p.m., the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs, 5:10 p.m., and the the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park, to start at 5:30 p.m. (EDT). This is a one dikkar minimum wager and will be listed as race 10 on the Belmont Park program.

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