Johansson could be 3rd female trainer to win Hambletonian
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Nancy Johansson knows the feeling of winning a Hambletonian.
The daughter of recently retired Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter was the caretaker of Muscle Massive when the colt won trotting’s biggest race in 2010. He ended up as the second of her father’s four Hambletonian winners.
Johansson, who worked with her father until starting her own stable in 2013, will try to become the third woman to train a Hambletonian winner when she sends out Don’t Let’em in the second elimination at The Meadowlands.
Linda Toscano trained Market Share in 2012. Paula Wellwood was the second winner with Marian Marauder in 2016.
Sixteen colts were entered in the race and there will be two eliminations with eight 3-year-olds. The top five in each heat return for a $1 million final later on the card.
Don’t Let’em is the 4-1 second choice in his heat, which has Greenshoe, the 4-5 favorite. Greenshoe last month went the mile in 1:50.1, this year’s fastest for a 3-year-old trotter.
Don’t Let’em is the class clown, said the 38-year-old Johansson, who took over training the colt after her father retired, one of 10 horses transferred to her barn.
“I’ve liked him since the first time he ever set foot on the farm,” she said. “You know why? He’s always so happy. I think that’s why he gets himself in trouble.”
Don’t Let’em won the Peter Haughton Memorial on Hambletonian day last year in a stakes-record 1:51.4. He ended the season with four wins and a second in 10 starts. He went off stride in all five races when he was out of the money. The son of Muscle Hill heads to the Hambletonian off a career-best 1:50.2 victory in the Reynolds Memorial here last week.
“He’s fast,” Johansson said. “I don’t know if he’s as fast as Greenshoe, but we’ll see. If he can just behave, he can be right there. And he’s strong too. He was parked the entire mile in the Reynolds; he never saw the rail until the stretch. So, he’s got all the tools.”
Johansson’s best finish in the Hambletonian was a fifth in 2014 with Resolve. She had entries the next two years but neither horse reached the final.
Like her father, Johansson is very competitive. She was named the Rising Star Award winner by the U.S. Harness Writers Association in 2014, the same year she trained the sport’s Horse of the Year, JK She’salady. For her career, Johansson has won more than 220 races and $9 million in purses.
Stefan Melander trains the three colts given the best chance of winning: Greeeshoe, Gimpanzee and Green Manalishi. He also trains Gerry, a long shot.
Cantab Fashion drew the No. 1 post in the first heat. Scott Zeron is listed to drive the 6-1 pick.
The rest of the field in post-position order with horse, driver and odds is: Summit In Sight, Andy Miller, 20-1; Swandre The Giant, David Miller, 7-2; Soul Strong, Dexter Dunn, 8-1; Mr Vicktor, Tyler Buter, 15-1; Osterc, Yannick Gingras, 15-1; Gimpanzee, Brian Sears, 2-1; and Green Manalishi, Tim Tetrick, 5-2.
Forbidden Trade has the No. 1 post position in the second heat. Bob McClure is the driver.
The rest of the field in post-position order with horse, driver and odds is: Gerry, Orjan Kihlstrom, 20-1; Pilot Discretion, Andrew McCarthy, 10-1; Reign Of Honor, David Miller, 20-1; Greenshoe, Brian Sears, 4-5; Don’t Let’em, Yannick Gingras, 4-1; Super Schissel, Scott Zeron, 10-1; Marseille, Ake Svanstedt, 5-1.