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Perfect Spirit wins Hambletonian via disqualification
Saturday, August 05, 2017 - by Mike Farrell and Carol Hodes, for the Hambletonian Society

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East Rutherford, NJ --- Perfect Spirit was the winner by disqualification in a chaotic Hambletonian Saturday afternoon (Aug. 5) at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

It was the first time a horse first under the wire had his number taken down in the 92 editions of the $1 million trotting classic for 3-year-olds.

Perfect Spirit (right) and trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt captured the $1 million Hambletonian final on Saturday after What The Hill and driver David Miller were disqualified for interference in the stretch.

What The Hill squeezed off the pylons in deep stretch and sprinted past the pacesetting Perfect Spirit in a time of 1:52.3 as the crowd cheered what appeared to be the first Hambo winner for trainer Ron Burke and driver David Miller.

But then the inquiry sign flashed on the toteboard.

The judges studied the replay and detected contact between What The Hill and Guardian Angel AS, who broke stride.

After a lengthy review, the Hambletonian had its first DQ.

“It was a tough break,” Miller said.

What The Hill was placed ninth and Perfect Spirit was stunningly on his way to the winner’s circle.

“Your horse raced great both heats,” said Hall of Famer John Campbell, presiding for the first time as president of the Hambletonian Society as he handed the connections the cherished trophy. “It’s unfortunate circumstances, but you can’t take anything away from his performance today.”

USTA/Mark Hall photos
Ake Svanstedt hoists the Hambletonian trophy in the winner's circle.

Winning owner Lennart Agren, who races as the SRF Stable, chalked the victory up to the breaks of the game.

“I know you have to be very lucky like we were today,” he said. “It can end very quickly, so you have to live in the moment right now.”

The win gave international trotting master Ake Svanstedt, 58, his first Hambo win as both a trainer and driver in only his fourth year in the U.S.

“It’s very big,” the Swedish horseman said. “I’m very happy.”

Perfect Spirit paid $17, $6.40 and $5.40 for his fifth win in nine starts this season.

In the revised order of finish, Devious Man ($3 and $2.40) moved up to second and Enterprise ($4) was placed third.

It was a tough race for the favorites. Devious Man, the 2-1 choice, had dead aim turning for home but could not sustain his bid. International Moni, the 5-2 second choice, broke stride in the first turn.

International Moni, Enterprise win Hambletonian eliminations

International Moni, sent off as the 3-5 favorite, held off Bill’s Man by a nose to win the first of two $100,000 Hambletonian elimination heats, the eighth race on Saturday (Aug. 5) at the Meadowlands.

International Moni, unbeaten in four starts this year, paid $3.40, $2.80, $2.20. Scott Zeron guided the 3-year-old son of Love You, out of two-time Horse of the Year Moni Maker, for trainer Frank Antonacci and the Moni Maker Stable of Enfield, Conn.

Bill’s Man returned $5.00, $3.20. Victor Gio It, who was third, paid $3.60.

The mile was trotted in 1:52.3.

Also advancing from the first heat to the $1 million Hambletonian final for 3-year-old trotters, were Guardian Angel AS and Giveitgasandgo, fourth and fifth, respectively.

Enterprise scored a length victory over 9-5 favorite Devious Man in the second of two $100,000 Hambletonian eliminations, the ninth race on Saturday at the Meadowlands.

Tim Tetrick guided Enterprise ($13.80, $6.00, $4.00) to the Chapter Seven-Shes Gone Again colt’s fifth win in seven starts this year for trainer Marcus Melander and ownership Courant Inc. of Delray Beach, Fla. Devious Man ($3.80, $3.20) was second best with Andy Miller at the lines. Perfect Spirit ($6.40) was third with Ake Svanstedt.

Also advancing were What The Hill and Dover Dan.

The time of the race was 1:52 for the mile.

Attendance for the Hambletonian Day card was 18,356 and all-source wagering totaled $5,788,870.

Jimmy Takter trained five winners on the card while Yannick Gingras drove four. Ake Svanstedt trained and drove three to victory lane.

Live harness racing returns to the Big M on Sept. 8 for an abbreviated four-day September meeting. The other dates are Sept. 9, 15 and 16. Post time is 7:15 p.m.

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