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g>East Rutherford, NJ --- Muscle Hill will start Saturday’s $1.5 million Hambletonian at the Meadowlands Racetrack from post No. 1 and was established as the 3-5 favorite to capture the most prestigious trophy in trotting.

As an elimination winner last weekend, the connections of Muscle Hill got to select  their starting spot during Tuesday’s draw at the Meadowlands. Also choosing post positions were the connections of the two other elim winners, Explosive Matter and Symphonic Hanover.

The Hambletonian, for 3-year-old trotters, will be televised live on NBC beginning at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.

“He’s a good athlete, so you don’t have to do a whole lot with him,” trainer Greg Peck said about Muscle Hill after picking second, following the connections of Explosive Matter, in making his post selection. “I think it is business as usual (this week). It’s a horse race. In sports, you genuinely do not know (what is going to happen). There are nine other horses in there with a chance. We do not take this lightly.”

Muscle Hill, driven regularly by Brian Sears, is 4-for-4 this year and will bring a 12-race win streak into the Hambletonian. He won his Hambletonian elim by 2-3/4 lengths over Triumphant Caviar in 1:52.3. His lifetime victories include the Breeders Crown, Peter Haughton Memorial, and divisions of the International Stallion, Bluegrass and Stanley Dancer Memorial stakes. He has earned $1.07 million in his career.

The colt is owned by Jerry Silva, TLP Stable, Southwind Farm, and Muscle Hill Racing.

“He’s done everything pretty easy. He’s just waiting for me to call on him,” Sears said. “He’s been very good. There are still some nice colts and it’s not over until it’s over. We’ll still have to get things to go our way.”

Favorites won the last two Hambletonian finals -- Deweycheatumnhowe in 2008 and Donato Hanover in 2007 -- after a five year drought.

Explosive Matter won his Hambletonian elimination by 1-1/2 lengths over Hot Shot Blue Chip in a career-best 1:52.3. He has won three of five races this year and earned $126,942. He is trained by Noel Daley and driven by Ron Pierce. Bred and owned by the Adam Victor & Son Stable, the colt was second to Muscle Hill in his Stanley Dancer Memorial division on July 17 despite going off stride while moving to the front from post seven at the start of the race.

“I’ve raced him since he was 2 and he’s always shown me he has some high speed,” Pierce said. “He can go.”

Symphonic Hanover, driven by David Miller, won his Hambletonian elim by three lengths over Judge Joe in 1:54.1. Symphonic Hanover is trained by Jonas Czernyson, who will be looking to win this year’s Hambletonian for his former mentor, Per Eriksson. Eriksson, who won the Hambletonian three times as a trainer, co-owns with Karl-Erik Bender, Per Rodert, and Rune Schonborg.

Last year, Symphonic Hanover was second to Muscle Hill in the Peter Haughton Memorial. This year, he has won three of five races.

“It’s touching to have (Eriksson) here as an owner,” said Czernyson, who also trains Hambletonian finalist Hot Shot Blue Chip. “I’m very happy about that. I wish I could get him to clean stalls, but he’s definitely going to do some work (this week).”

Following is the field for Saturday’s $1,520,333 Hambletonian, in post position order, with drivers and trainers:

1. Muscle Hill – Brian Sears – Greg Peck – 3-5
2. Explosive Matter – Ron Pierce – Noel Daley – 5-1
3. Symphonic Hanover – David Miller – Jonas Czernyson – 8-1
4. Hot Shot Blue Chip – Michel Lachance – Jonas Czernyson – 10-1
5. Triumphant Caviar – Luc Ouellette – Chris Beaver – 15-1
6. Calchips Brute – John Campbell – Trond Smedshammer – 30-1
7. Reinsman Hanover – Tim Tetrick – Trond Smedshammer – 30-1
8. The Chancellor – Andy Miller – Julie Miller – 30-1
9. Federal Flex – Jody Jamieson – Jeff Gillis – 8-1
10. Judge Joe – D.R. Ackerman – Doug Ackerman – 15-1


Here is the draw for the $783,042 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old filly trotters:

1. Elusive Desire – Paul MacDonell  - 5-2
2. Raising Rachel – Jack Moiseyev - 7-2
3. OK To Play – Daniel Dube - 8-1
4. Broadway Schooner