EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Devious Man and International Moni are the 5-2 favorites in their respective eliminations Saturday for the $1 million Hambletonian at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
The top five finishers in each $100,000 elimination return later that afternoon for the $1 million final.
The trotting classic for 3-year-olds attracted 19 entrants for this wide-open renewal.
Walner, who would have been the solid favorite, dropped out last week with what trainer Linda Toscano called a “minor injury.” Walner, last season’s juvenile champion, has won 9 of 10 starts.
The Hambletonian lost another potential headliner when the team behind the talented filly Ariana G opted to pass on that race. A winner of 14 of 17 races, Ariana G will remain with the fillies that afternoon as the 6-5 favorite in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks.
Devious Man drew post 9 in the first elimination with Andy Miller driving for wife Julie. The winner of the Beal Memorial at Pocono Downs last month, Devious Man finished second to Walner here most recently in a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial.
The consistent colt is 4-2-0 in six starts this season.
“We were really pleased with him in the Dancer,” Julie Miller said. “I think that’s a nice race going into the Hambo.”
What The Hill is 3-1 second choice from the rail in that division following a win here last week in the Reynolds Stakes. David Miller drives for trainer Ron Burke who entered three horses in the Hambo.
International Moni overcame a bout of colic to go 3 for 3 this year after posting a 1 for 12 record last season. He starts from post 5 for trainer Frank Antonacci. Scott Zeron, who won last year’s Hambletonian with Triple Crown winner Marion Marauder, would be the first driver to post consecutive victories since recently retired John Campbell (1987-88).
“I don’t think he could be heading into the race any better,” Zeron said. “His whole year has been beautiful.”
Long Tom is the main competition in that elim, starting from post 8 as the 3-1 second choice for driver Tim Tetrick and…