Day At The Track

'Hungry' for Hempt Memorial score

06:04 AM 28 Jun 2018 NZST
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Stay Hungry, harness racing
Stay Hungry and driver Doug McNair
Mark Hall/USTA photo

Owner Brad Grant hopes the best is yet to come from O'Brien Award-winner Stay Hungry, who will be among eight harness racing horses trying to hand Lather Up his first loss of the year in Saturday's $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

Stay Hungry, trained by Tony Alagna, finished a troubled-trip third last week in his Hempt elimination, beaten a half-length by winner Hitman Hill. Stay Hungry and driver Doug McNair will start the final from post No. 5, which has produced a track-best 16.2 win percentage this year, and are the 7-2 second choice on the morning line behind favorite Lather Up.

Lather Up, the North America Cup champion who improved to 7-for-7 this season with his Hempt elimination victory, is 2-1 with driver Montrell Teague from post seven.

"It's a tough division and Lather Up at this point is probably a head better than everybody else," Grant said. "You could be racing for second money, but you never know. When they're going for half-a-million dollars they're going to be racing. We lucked out getting (post) five. There is going to be a lot of front-end speed and this colt seems to like to come from the back end."

The Hempt is one of four marquee events that make up Sun Stakes Saturday at Pocono. The card also features the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters, where filly Manchego is the 5-2 morning-line favorite; $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers, with McWicked the 5-2 favorite; and the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers, where Sidewalk Dancer is the 5-2 choice.

Stay Hungry is a son of 2008 Horse of the Year winner Somebeachsomewhere out of My Little Dragon, who was a multiple Dan Patch Award winner. Last year, Stay Hungry won six of nine races, including the Breeders Crown, and earned $535,742 for owners Grant and Irwin Samelman on his way to receiving the O'Brien Award as Canada's best 2-year-old male pacer.

Samelman passed away in May at the age of 87.

"We had a lot of fun with the horse last year," said Grant, whose partnership with Samelman on Stay Hungry was his first. "It was the first time for both of us winning a Breeders Crown and winning an O'Brien. It was great that we got to share that together. In the little time I knew him, he was a gentleman's gentleman."

Stay Hungry has won one of four races this year and earned $83,642. He finished third, beaten by a neck, in his seasonal debut in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes before winning an elimination of the North America Cup. He finished fourth in the Cup final.

"I was a little disappointed with his results in the North America Cup, but he wasn't a hundred percent after the race," Grant said. "You can't take anything away from Lather Up, he's just outstanding, but I thought Dougie had given (Stay Hungry) a great drive and we would finish second. He just was off a little bit and didn't fire like the week before."

In his Hempt elimination, Stay Hungry was following Sometimesawinner on the outside when Sometimesawinner went off stride and caused McNair and Stay Hungry to lose momentum. Stay Hungry finished with a :26.4 last quarter-mile to rally for third place.

"The horse raced great considering we came to a stop up the backstretch," Grant said. "I think we haven't seen the best of this colt yet, so you keep looking forward.

"It's all about being the right horse on the right day and when they're on their game."

Joining Lather Up and Hitman Hill as Hempt elimination winners was Dorsoduro Hanover, who won for the fourth time in five starts this season.

The top-three finishers from each of the three eliminations advanced to the final.

Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Pocono. The Hempt is race No. 10 on the card, preceded by the Lynch and followed by the Franklin and Beal.

Max C. Hempt was a renowned Pennsylvania-based breeder, whose horses were known for the prefix "Keystone," as well as a longtime director of the U.S. Trotting Association and Hambletonian Society. He served as the Hambletonian Society president from 1966-1984 and the creation of the Breeders Crown series evolved under his leadership. Hempt, who passed away in 1999, was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1980.

Following is the field for this year's Max C. Hempt Memorial.

PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line
1 - Nutcracker Sweet by Bettor's Delight - David Miller - Jimmy Takter - 10/1
2 - Hitman Hill by American Ideal - Brett Miller - Chris Oakes - 9/2
3 - Springsteen by Rock N Roll Heaven - Simon Allard - Rene Allard - 8/1
4 - Dorsoduro Hanover by Somebeachsomewhere -Matt Kakaley - Ron Burke - 6/1
5 - Stay Hungry by Somebeachsomewhere - Doug McNair - Tony Alagna - 7/2
6  -Shnitzledosomethin by Fred And Ginger -Yannick Gingras - Dylan Davis - 12/1
7 - Lather Up by Im Gorgeous - Montrell Teague - Clyde Francis - 2/1
8 - Wes Delight by Bettor's Delight - Corey Callahan - Mark Harder - 15/1
9 - This Is The Plan by Somebeachsomewhere - Tim Tetrick-Chris Ryder-20/1

Complete entries for the card are available at this link.

by Ken Weingartner for the USTA 

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