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Mission Brief to flex her "Muscle" in Hambletonian
Tuesday, August 04, 2015 - by Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ

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Manalapan, NJ --- Mission Brief, a daughter of Muscle Hill, was nurtured in the New Jersey Sire Stakes program and proved herself against the best of her age, gait and gender to win divisional honors at two.

When she trotted a mile in 1:50.3 at Lexington’s Red Mile on Oct. 2, 2014, she posted a record that made her not only the fastest 2-year-old filly but the fastest 2-year-old trotter of either gender.

Now she will tackle the best 3-year-old trotters in training in the $1.2 million Hambletonian on Saturday (Aug. 8) at the Meadowlands, bypassing an easier challenge in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for fillies.

Lisa photo
Mission Brief has won 12 times in her career, with earnings of $791,417.

Mission Brief will be the 161st filly since the debut of the Hambletonian in 1926 to take on the challenge. Thirteen have won the prestigious event, only two -- Duenna in 1983 and Continentalvictory in 1996 -- since the option of the Oaks debuted in 1971.

Mission Brief drew post two in the second of two $100,000 elimination races on Saturday and was installed as the 6-5 morning line favorite. She has three wins in four starts this year and 12 wins in 17 career starts for a bankroll of $791,417.

“It’s a perfect draw for her,” trainer Ron Burke said. “She doesn’t have to leave. She can get away where ever she wants to get away. That seems to be her favorite way, to fall in where she has to and then move from there.”

While she won the Dan Patch Award for 2-Year-Old Filly Trotter of 2014, she was not without her flaws with ill-timed breaks in stride. She did win the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes final and the $352,050 Merrie Annabelle (renamed the Jim Doherty Memorial this year) and the $500,000 Breeders Crown, all at the Meadowlands.

This year, Mission Brief won her season’s debut in a New Jersey Sire Stakes preliminary leg and annexed the $100,000 final on May 30. Battling some back issues, she did not make her next start until the $187,000 Del Miller Memorial on July 18, finishing second by a nose.

After making her first three starts at the Meadowlands, she traveled to Vernon Downs for the $185,000 Zweig Memorial Filly, winning by two lengths in 1:51.4. That victory punched her ticket to face the boys in the 90th edition of the Hambletonian.

“It was 100 percent (the decision maker),” Burke said. “Without that race, I wasn’t going to get all the owners on board to go. For her to show up and look like her old self, it was a pretty easy sell. Her best is as good as anybody’s best. That’s all we were looking for.”

The owners are Burke Racing Stable LLC, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC.

Bred by Steve Stewart, Black Creek Farm and Andrea Lea Racing Stables, the Muscle Hill–Southwind Serena filly was hip number 98 at the Lexington Selected Sale on Oct. 1, 2013 and sold for $150,000.

She will need to finish in the top five of her elimination to return for the $1 million Hambletonian, race 13, which will be featured on CBS Sports Network. Coverage is from 4-5:30 p.m. Post time for the Hambletonian final is 5:15 p.m.

Her regular driver, Yannick Gingras, will handle the filly, but he will also drive Pinkman, the divisional champion among the 2-year-old colts of 2014, in the first elimination. The Jimmy Takter trainee is the 8-5 morning line favorite despite post 10 in his split. If both advance to the final, Gingras will have to make his pick.

The Hambletonian stakes record of 1:50.1 was established in 2009 by Muscle Hill.

Sharing the stakes-laden card with the Hambletonian are the $389,450 Jim Doherty Memorial (race two), $251,250 Lady Liberty (race three); $215,250 US Pacing Championship (race four), $301,500 John Cashman Memorial (race five), $181,450 Fresh Yankee (race six), $349,850 Peter Haughton Memorial (race seven), $319,400 Cane Pace (race 11), $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks (race 12) and $109,500 Shady Daisy (race 14). The program has a total of 16 races.

Gates at the Meadowlands open at 10 a.m. with first race at 12 noon. Festivities include a commemorative baseball hat giveaway, with paid admission, while supplies last; limited edition Foiled Again Breyer Stablemate giveaway for children, with paid admission, while supplies last; live music by The Wild Ones; carnival games and pony rides in the Backyard; Horse Play Car Giveaway; and $850 Hambletonian hat contest (after the fifth race) with three prizes, including $500 for first place.

8th Race -- $100,000 Hambletonian Elimination
1. Donatomite, Trond Smedshammer, Trond Smedshammer, 15-1
2. The Bank, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter, 8-1
3. Workout Wonder, Daniel Dube, Ake Svanstedt, 12-1
4. Habitat, Brian Sears, Ron Burke, 6-1
5. Total Darkness, Tim Tetrick, Jonas Czernyson, 20-1
6. Fashion Creditor, David Miller, Tom Fanning, 20-1
7. Jacksons Minion, Tom Jackson, Tom Jackson, 30-1
8. Centurion ATM, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 9-2
9. Canepa Hanover, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter, 3-1
10. Pinkman, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 8-5

9th Race -- $100,000 Hambletonian Elimination
1. Billy Flynn, Tim Tetrick, Staffan Lind, 15-1
2. Mission Brief, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 6-5
3. Cruzado Dela Noche, David Miller, Nancy Johansson, 20-1
4. Aldebaran Eagle, Corey Callahan, Jonas Czernyson, 20-1
5. Wings Of Royalty, Tim Tetrick, George Ducharme, 12-1
6. French Laundry, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter, 4-1
7. Uncle Lasse, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter, 5-2
8. Southwind Mozart, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 20-1
9. Muscle Diamond, Tim Tetrick, Brett Bittle, 8-1

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