Freehold, NJ --- Andy Miller knows how it feels to come within a neck of winning the Hambletonian Stakes. This year, he hopes to experience victory.
Miller drives Devious Man in Saturday’s $1.2 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters at the Meadowlands. The colt, trained by Miller’s wife, Julie, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the second of two $100,000 eliminations. The top-five finishers from each elimination return later in the day for the $1 million final.
Devious Man will start his elimination from post nine in a 10-horse field.
“I think the horse is really sharp and really good,” Miller said. “I’m not thrilled about the draw, but hopefully we can advance from there and get to the final. Hopefully we can win (the elimination) and secure an inside spot for the final. If not, then hopefully we draw good in the final.”
Last year, Miller and his horse Sutton finished behind winner Marion Marauder and Southwind Frank in a three-horse photo. Sutton made up nearly four lengths in the stretch, but ran out of time to catch the leaders before the wire.
“I needed a couple more steps, I think,” Miller said. “But I was thrilled to be third and I would have been very thrilled to win it. Hopefully this is our year.”
Miller and his wife are no strangers to the Hambletonian. Last year, Julie Miller had two horses in the final, with Milligan’s School finishing sixth. Julie Miller has trained a total of five Hambletonian finalists.
Devious Man has won four of six races this year and finished no worse than second in his remaining starts. His victories include the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on July 1 and the Empire Breeders Championship at Vernon Downs in a career-best 1:52.2 on June 18.
The colt, owned by the Andy Miller Stable and Stroy Inc., heads to the Hambletonian off a second-place finish to Walner in a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial. Walner, last year’s Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter, will miss the Hambletonian because of a minor injury.
Devious Man, a son of Credit Winner out of the mare Miss Garland, has won 11 of 18 lifetime races and earned $750,200. He is a half-brother to 2005 Hambletonian winner Vivid Photo.
“He lets me drive him however I want,” Miller said about Devious Man. “I can leave, I can come from behind, he just has great manners.
“He’s just such a classy horse.”
International Moni is the 5-2 favorite in the first of the two eliminations. The Hambletonian final is 5:11 p.m. and will air on CBS Sports Network. The $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters and $224,400 Sam McKee Memorial for older male pacers also will be part of the 90-minute broadcast, which begins at 4 p.m.
Following are the Hambletonian elimination fields.
Hambletonian Elimination (race eight)
1-Southwind Woody-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-12/1
2-Bill’s Man-Corey Callahan-John Butenschoen-5/1
3-Guardian Angel As-Jason Bartlett-Anette Lorentzon-10/1
4-Giveitgasandgo-Corey Callahan-John Butenschoen-8/1
5-International Moni-Scott Zeron-Frank Antonacci-5/2
6-Stealth Hanover-Francisco Del Cid-Francisco Del Cid-30/1
7-Victor Gio IT-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-6/1
8-Long Tom-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander-3/1
9-Jake-Dan Dube-Luc Blais-8/1
Hambletonian Elimination (race nine)
1-What The Hill-David Miller-Ron Burke-3/1
2-Seven And Seven-David Miller-Tom Durand-8/1
3-Sortie-Andy McCarthy-Noel Daley-10/1
4-Shake It Off Lindy-Brett Miller-Frank Antonacci-20/1
5-Dover Dan-Brian Sears-John Butenschoen-8/1
6-Enterprise-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander-9/2
7-Southwind Cobra-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-15/1
8-Achille Duharas-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-20/1
9-Devious Man-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-5/2
10-Perfect Spirit-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt-12/1