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News and Insight On Winbak Farm

Read below for the latest on Winbak Achievements and graduates. Stories are from the leading industry news sources.

Muscle Hill dominates Hambletonian

Saturday, August 08, 2009  By: Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communications

 

East Rutherford, NJ --- It was a veritable walk in the park for Muscle Hill in the $1,520,333 Hambletonian on Saturday afternoon at the Meadowlands, taking the lead right off the gate and trotting six lengths ahead of the field, reaching the winner's circle without so much as a breath of warm air from a challenger at driver Brian Sears’ shoulder.


The time of 1:50.1, in track and stakes record time, equaled the all-age world record for a mile track. Muscle Hill joins Donato Hanover, Giant Diablo and Lucky Jim, who reached that mark with a win in the Nat Ray earlier in the card. The previous Hambletonian record was held by Glidemaster, 1:51.1 in 2006. Muscle Hill is trained by Greg Peck and owned by Jerry Silva, TLP Stable, Southwind Farm and Muscle Hill Racing.


Sears and Muscle Hill went straight ahead from their spot on the rail to trip the timer in :27.1 at the quarter-mile mark, followed by Explosive Matter and Ron Pierce, and Symphonic Hanover (David Miller) a length behind him. That trio stayed in that alignment to the :55 half and then to the three quarters (1:23) in the exact same order. By the time the field turned for home, Pierce was tapping at Explosive Matter, Brian Sears took a quick look over his left shoulder and Muscle Hill continued on an unchallenged path to history.


"He’s a great horse, I had a ton of confidence in him and I knew he could do it," said winning driver Brian Sears. "(The opening quarter of) :27.1 is a pretty honest quarter and I didn’t have to jam him up. I figured I had the best horse and I was going to let him roll. I wasn’t going to go suicidal fractions and let them run me down. My horse was within himself."


Asked what he was thinking as the wire was in sight, Sears chuckled and said, "Just don’t let anything stupid happen, wait for the wire."


"I didn’t say it publicly, but I thought he could go in (1):50 today," said winning trainer Greg Peck, who noted the support of his family, sons Brendan and Sean, and his wife, Nancy. "Nancy’s been through a lot. We came here 19 years ago with nothing. We saw our first Hambletonian here and it’s hard to believe we’re standing here now.


"I can’t help but think of home (Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia)," said Peck. "My father Bernie, my mother Grace, they gave me a great grounding. My father was great with trotters, he was ahead of his time. So it’s nice for them, it really is."


Asked when he thought the race might be won for Muscle Hill, Peck said, "Midway around the turn, I could see Ronny (Pierce) tapping Explosive Matter and I knew what that meant. I know what Muscle Hill is like. When Brian (Sears) steps on the gas, he’s like a sports car that just goes into overdrive and does it easily. It’s humbling to think that because everything’s perfect."


Driver Sears had similar sentiments. "It’s very humbling to win such prestigious races (The Oaks and The Hambletonian) on a day like today. I couldn’t be any happier. I knew I had the horse this year to get it done and I never had any doubts. This horse has just been waiting for me to call on him. I knew he’s been sitting on a big one and he didn’t let us down."


Explosive Matter (Pierce) was second and was followed by Calchips Brute, The Chancellor, Symphonic Hanover, Reinsman Hanover, Judge Joe, Triumphant Caviar, Federal Flex, and Hot Shot Blue Chip, who made a break soon after the start and finished last.


"I got to sit in the two hole, that’s what I wanted," said Explosive Matter's driver, Ron Pierce. "Leaving the gate, the horse that Mike was driving (Hot Shot Blue Chip), made a break. Nobody else’s left, so right there I figured that we were at the mercy of what Brian (Sears, driving Muscle Hill) did.


"I started chasing my horse a little bit in the turn to keep up. Then in the lane, Muscle Hill exploded. He was trotting home real strong.


"I was just hoping that a few of the horses on the outside would leave on out of there and mix things up a little bit. That way, my horse would have a better shot at getting up in the end. As it turned out, no one tipped out and it was just Muscle Hill in the front on cruise control.


"I would also like to congratulate Greg Peck, the trainer. What a job he did with this colt. He did a magnificent job with the colt. I’m happy for Greg that he won the race."


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