“We’re definitely Hambletonian bound,” trainer Ron Gurfein told harnessracing.com Thursday afternoon shortly after Great Success, a 3-year-old colt trotter he co-owns, finished second by a nose to Xactly Hanover--another likely Hambo starter--in a qualifier at the Meadowlands in 1:52.3.
Because Great Success was a late add-in to the qualifiers, the original charted lines were posted incomplete, and harnessracing.com received original information from Gurfein that Great Success was the actual winner. With the chart not accurate, a series of phone calls then ensued and it was confirmed that Xactly Hanover had won the race in a tight photo. The end result, however, is that both horses were clocked in 1:52.3, both horses are heading for the Hambletonian, and Xactly Hanover\'s time was the winner is the fastest clocked by a sophomore colt trotter this year in any type race.
Great Success is winless in five pari-mutuel starts this year, with his latest effort being a sixth-place finish behind the prohibitive Hambletonian choice Donato Hanover in the $400,000 Dancer Memorial Trot final last Saturday night at the Meadowlands. Last year he had three wins in seven attempts and nearly $100,000 in earnings.
Gurfein said Thursday afternoon he switched Great Success to aluminum shoes and added a Cornell Collar to help the son of Self Possessed breathe. And then he made a last-minute phone call to the Meadowlands’ race office prior to Thursday’s qualifiers.
“He didn’t get in the Open (this weekend) and I called Tad (Meadowlands’ race secretary Tad Stockman) this morning to please put him in (the qualifier) because what chance do I ever have to have a horse that I own in the Hambletonian?” said an elated Gurfein, who shares ownership with Jerry and Rosalie Silva. “This morning I had a vision (the changes) would work. I knew he was a great horse. I just couldn’t imagine he wasn’t a great horse.”
Regular driver Mike Lachance was in the sulky behind Great Success in the qualifier, leading at every call (:28, :56 and 1:24.3) before being nosed out at the wire by the Andy Miller-driven Xactly Hanover.