HAMBLETONIAN | PURSE: $1.5 MILLION
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Driver George Brennan dominated the winner's circle at the Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day. The 44-year-old Monticello, N.Y., native guided Broad Bahn down the road in the $1.5 million Hambletonian and came from off the pace with 24-1 longshot Bold and Fresh in the $750,000 Hambletonian Oaks.
The Hambletonian played out cut and dry. Only Broad Bahn and Whiskey Tax left away from the gate and the pair lined up 1-2, respectively. The duo stayed in alignment with no company until past the five-eighths, when the favored Manofmanymissions edged up on the rim.
After soft fractions of 27.1 seconds and 56.0, Broad Bahn and Manofmanymissions hooked up for a brief period before the latter began to weaken and eventually break stride. From there, Brennan put the colt on cruise control and had no anxious moments besting runner-ups Whiskey Tax and Opening Night in 1:53.
"All week long, I thought if I could get the half in 55.3, 56, it would work out well," Brennan said in the winner's circle.
It was the first taste of Hambletonian glory for Brennan, who's best prior finish was third with Wishing Stone in 2010.
"I don't know how to describe it," Brennan said. "I have a lot of things going on. I have to work tonight. I have to work tomorrow. I have a couple of races later today. One of these days, I'll get a chance to sit down, relax, pinch myself, and realize what a great day it is."
Trainer Noel Daley, who also picked up his first Hambo title, was ecstatic about the win but just as excited about his colt's ability to blossom as an older performer.
"I would love to race him for the next two years," Daley said. "The good older horses are usually big, strong horses, and he fits the bill perfectly. I really think he'll be a better horse as he gets older."
Broad Bahn, who is scheduled to race next at Chester on Aug. 21 in the $500,000 Colonial, is owned by Fam Alber Horse Racing LLC of Windsor, N.J.
Before the Hambletonian comes the $750,000 Hambletonian Oaks.
After finding an early seat third, Brennan guided Bold and Fresh behind the 2-5 favored Crys Dream, and the pair burst to the front in the final strides to win by a half-length.
"I don't know how susceptible Crys Dream would have been, but I know how good my filly felt," said Brennan, who became only the second driver to capture the Hambo/Oaks double in the same day (Brian Sears was the first with Muscle Hill and Broadway Schooner in 2009).
An estimated 25,000 people were in attendance.