EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—Tim Tetrick was at a low point Saturday before the 87th Hambletonian at Meadowlands Racetrack. He was driving the favorite in the race before, but his horse broke stride and was disqualified.
Just minutes later, he was at the apex of the sport, capturing harness racing’s biggest prize.
Tetrick drove Market Share into the lead at the top of the stretch and held off Guccio by a neck at the wire. My MVP was third, a nose back.
“I feel bad for the connections of Check Me Out [his horse in the Hambletonian Oaks, which preceded the Hambletonian], but this race is a dream come true. I’m just happy to be a part of it,” said Tetrick, who won his first Hambletonian in six tries.
Linda Toscano became the first female trainer to win the Hambletonian. Her only other Hambletonian entry, Chapter Seven, finished fourth last year.
“I think I’ll have to tell you tomorrow. It’s just so surreal right now,” Toscano said when asked about her place in racing history.
When did Toscano know she had a winner?
“Not until the wire. I knew Guccio was going to make a run and My MVP was right there as well,” said Toscano, who is the highest earning female trainer at the Meadowlands with more than $11 million in purses.
Market Share won $750,000 of the $1.5 million purse and paid $10.80 for bettors. The favorite, Uncle Peter, fell to 8th after breaking in the stretch. Uncle Peter led along the rail heading into the stretch, but Market Share sailed past to set up a dramatic finish.
“It’s a dream come true,” Toscano said.
In the Hambletonian Oaks for three-year-old trotting fillies, Personal Style, a 55-1 long shot, upset heavy favorite Check Me Out, Toscano’s entry in last year’s Hambletonian. Tetrick was driving Check Me Out, but the horse broke stride as they turned for home.
An angry Tetrick stormed to the drivers’ room without discussing the race and got ready for the Hambletonian.
Personal Style took the lead down the stretch and passed Win Missy B to win by a neck. Sassy Syrinx placed third.
Earlier in the day, Toscano and Tetrick set a world record in the Nat Ray, when Chapter 7 broke his own record for four-year-old trotters with a time of 1:50.1. It was the second straight year that the trainer and driver have teamed up, and they became only the second duo to win the Nat Ray and the Hambletonian.
In the Peter Haughton Memorial, which usually decides the early favorite for the next year’s Hambletonian, A Perfect Yankee and trainer/driver Jim Oscarsson claimed first.
Brett Hauser is a student at Towson University studying English and is covering the Hambletonian for Boston.com as part of the Clyde Hirt Journalism Workshop.