Philadelphia owner skips Billy Joel concert to run longshot in Hambletonian

Market Share, driven by Tim Tetrick, keeps a lead on My MVP, driven by Mike Lachance, to win the Hambletonian at the Meadowlands Race Track. RICH SCHULTZ / Associated Press
Market Share, driven by Tim Tetrick, keeps a lead on My MVP, driven by Mike Lachance, to win the Hambletonian at the Meadowlands Race Track. RICH SCHULTZ / Associated Press
Posted: August 02, 2014

Trainer Jimmy Takter has such a prohibitive favorite in Saturday's $1 million Hambletonian at the Meadowlands, that one local owner is surprised he even has a horse in such a prestigious race.

"I have tickets for the Billy Joel concert at [Citizens Bank Park], so I had to scramble to rearrange my plans," said Howard Taylor, a lawyer from Philadelphia and co-owner of 20-1 longshot Doncango.

"[Winning the Hambletonian] would be a dream. It would be a shock, but it would be a dream," Taylor said. "I never expected to have a horse in [the race]."

Swedish trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt encouraged Taylor to enter harness racing's classic event.

"Svanstedt tells me this horse is ready. I have concerns," Taylor said. "I don't know if he'll ever be good enough to beat Father Patrick. I don't think anyone can beat him, period."

Father Patrick, trained by Takter, is the 4-5 morning-line favorite from a difficult post 10.

Taylor acquired Doncango and his prior Hambletonian horses after representing Stefan Balazsi of Boras, Sweden. They co-own Doncango with Johan Vonderlancken of Stockholm.

According to Svanstedt, Doncango, who drew post three, had some recent health issues. "He has had his leg problems, it's difficult to stay sound for a long time. But now he is really good in training and I hope he stays like this. If he can earn money, we'll be really happy."

There is another local longshot, 50-1 JJ Alex, who is owned by Mario Mazza of Newtown.

Mazza is also uncertain of how his JJ Alex will compete with odds-on Father Patrick.

"I ain't going to be here forever. This might be my last shot for the Hambletonian," said Mazza, whose horse drew post two. "We got the right draw, we got the right driver on him, we got the right trainer. It's a win-win situation," Mazza said referring to trainer-driver Francisco Del Cid.

Post time for the Hambletonian (CBS Sports Network), is 5:11 p.m.


Sara Rayburn is a junior at Bowling Green State University studying Early Childhood Education. She is covering the Hambletonian as part of the Clyde Hirt Journalism Workshop.

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