Hambletonian winner Muscle Hill coasted to a 1:56.2 win in a qualifier Friday afternoon at The Red Mile, the first appearance for the son of Muscles Yankee since he captured the $1.5 million trotting classic Aug. 8 at the Meadowlands in 1:50.1 world-record fashion. With trainer Greg Peck in the sulky, Muscle Hill led at every call as he cruised to the easy victory, finishing eight lengths ahead of runner-up Claudius Augustus, with third-place Rose Run Kordell, 56 1/2 lengths back.
“That was a hell of a mile,” Peck told harnessracing.com as he climbed out the sulky after directing the colt through fractions of :30, :58.1 and 1:28 before closing out the mile with a final quarter of :28.2.
The qualifiers were delayed an hour after overnight rains soaked the track. Peck said the belief among horsemen at the qualifiers was that the track was probably off about three seconds from being “fast.”
"That was just what I was hoping for, especially with the track being off,” said Peck, who was behind Muscle Hill for the first time in any kind of race since the colt’s first lifetime baby start June 17, 2008, at Gaitway Farm in New Jersey.
Muscle Hill has a 13-race winning streak that he will bring into his next pari-mutuel start, the $300,000 American National Aug. 29 at Balmoral Park. Peck said Muscle Hill would then return to The Red Mile before heading back to Du Quoin, Ill., for the Sept. 5 World Trotting Derby. Peck added it will be his first-ever race at Du Quoin, with his only previous trip to the fairgrounds coming back at age 10 in 1974.