Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas
On Saturday, August 2, 2008, Deweycheatumnhowe (with driver Ray Schnittker) reached legendary status by becoming the first trotter in the history of harness racing to win the Hambletonian (the “Kentucky Derby” of harness racing) while remaining undefeated. Deweycheatumnhowe left to the lead from his post one position and held off the late challenge of Crazed (Tim Tetrick) to win the $750,000 first place check by half-a-length in 1:52 flat over a Meadowlands track rated “good” due to heavy rains earlier in the day.
Despite the bad weather, just over 25,000 fans attended the races at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey. As the horses went behind the gate for harness racing’s biggest trot race, Dewey actually looked a little rolly in front but it was probably due to the speed of the starting gate. When the gate pulled away, Dewey clicked into high gear, started trotting up a storm and put everyone in a hole by trotting a 26.4 first quarter over the good-rated track
Others left for the lead, including Pine After Pine (Ron Pierce), Big Apple Deli (John Campbell) and Velocity Hall (Dave Miller), as second-favorite Crazed (Tim Tetrick) protected his post two and then got right behind Dewey. As they came out of the first turn, Pine After Pine was unable to get down to the pylons and made a break, eliminating him from contention. Dewey cut the mile, with Crazed in the two-hole and Big Apple Deli third on the inside.
Velocity Hall, who was out the whole mile and through the first half fractions of 26.4 and 55 (a slight 28.1 second-quarter breather for the leader), tried to mount a first-over challenge but could never get to Dewey’s wheel. Clerk Magistrate (Jody Jamieson – a late driver change for Trevor Ritchie, who was stuck on the tarmac at Syracuse Airport due to the bad weather) was second-over, followed by Celebrity Secret (Brian Sears) third-over.
As they hit the three-quarters in 1:23.2 and headed for the stretch, Velocity Hall started to tire, Clerk Magistrate tipped three-wide and briefly looked like he might make a race of it and Tim Tetrick popped Crazed out of the pocket. Briefly, Clerk Magistrate and Crazed seemed to be fighting for the same lane to the finish line, but Clerk Magistrate would tire as Crazed would make a real run at Deweycheatumnhowe. Winning driver Schnittker really got into his horse in the last sixteenth and he was able to hold off the hard-charging Crazed by half-a-length in 1:52, the third-fastest Hambletonian ever. Ray Schnittker’s other horse (he trains as well), Make It Happen (Dan Dube), had the ten post and swept from eighth at the three-quarter pole to finish third, beaten three-and-a-quarter lengths. Celebrity Secret was fourth and Clerk Magistrate got fifth money ($75,000 in this race).
After the race, driver-trainer Schnittker was happy and relieved: He told NBC’s Donna Brothers that it was a great relief and said, “He wants to win. That’s why he’s won 15 in a row. He just dug in and refused to let [Crazed] go by. He’s one hell of a horse.” Adding a little humor to the affair, when Brothers asked him what this win means to him, Schnittker laughed and said, “It don’t matter if I die now, I got it.”
The win was the 15th in a row (10 for 10 at the Meadowlands) for the three-year-old son of Muscles Yankee for trainer-driver Schnittker and owners Schnittker, Ted Gewertz and Charles Iannazzo, all of New York, and the Deweycheatumnhowe Stable of Kentucky. Bred by Steve Jones of New York and named for the fictional law firm of many comics, including the Three Stooges (believed to be the first to use it), the 2-5 favorite Deweycheatumnhowe raised his lifetime earnings to $1,953,246.
While it was wonderful exposure for harness racing to show its latest superhorse on national TV, NBC brought in its (mostly) thoroughbred team to cover the event. While they had harness racing expert Gary Seibel (who, for about 20 years, was the race caller at Pompano Harness Track in Florida) to explain what was going on, they also brought in thoroughbred man Mike Battaglia from Churchill Downs, who struggled with some terminology (like calling superstar John Campbell a Hall of Fame rider before correctly calling him a driver) and didn’t know that Tom Charters (Battaglia called him Tom Campbell in the Winner’s Circle) is the President and CEO of the Hambletonian Society. You can do both harness and thoroughbred racing (Seibel, for example, works for TVG, the television racing channel, and covers both on an almost nightly basis), but it’s a lot of work.
Despite the weather, it was a wonderful showcase for harness racing’s newest legend, Deweycheatumnhowe, the undefeated Hambletonian champion.
© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.