Hannah Miller leads World Cup standings
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The 2016 World Cup of Amateur Racing kicked off on Friday with three races at Kincsem Park in Budapest, Hungary. In addition to the three World Cup races, there were three greyhound races and three Thoroughbred races.
At the end of the first of two days of competitions Hannah Miller, the USA representative, is the current point leader on the strength of a win and a second place finish. Miller, the leading amateur driver in her home country, along her parents Erv and Heidi Miller and Hannah’s boyfriend Nick Surick, are joined by NAADA founder and president Joe Faraldo and his wife Yma for the World Cup of Amateur Racing competition, which consists of six races. Faraldo is also giving a hands-on account of the racing action in Budapest.
Miller was second in the first contest, which was won by the Italian representative. The following is Faraldo’s account of that race:
"Hannah weaved from post ten in this 12-horse field behind a six-horse gate and as a result, she cut the mile in this 1800-meter race over the 6/8ths mile oval. She rebuffed a challenge from Denmark’s Ms. Bitten Jensen halfway home, but Hannah got beat a 1-1/4 lengths at the wire finishing a solid second to the Italian entrant. Argentina was third.
"The latter’s driver is also the owner/breeder of Chucaro Acero BC, who has raced at the Meadowlands and Yonkers Raceway this year. Senor Leonardo Antonio Augusti of Argentina has a working relationship with Blue Chip Farms of N.Y., which we heard this year will send mares to Argentina. Hannah did very well and just needs to compile points to stay in the hunt."
In the second event, Miller drove the winner and the following is Faraldo’s hands-on account of the action:
"Hannah, driving the third choice in the betting, Kincses, fought off being challenged after making the top and cutting the mile from post eight, once again starting from the second tier. After fighting off early challenges a strong one came from a three-wide move by Alle Loman of the Czech Republic but Hannah and Kincses hung tough for the victory. This time, the Italian Mikor Marini was second so the USA and Italy are tied with 24 points at this point."
For the second time in the three races held at Budapest’s Kincsem Park, a woman emerged victorious in the third contest according to Faraldo:
"Ms. Bitten Jensen of Denmark won the third event adding to her lifetime 56 wins and the ladies stuck it to the boys capturing two of the three first night's events," Faraldo said via email. "Bitten steered Poeta to a three-length victory over my friend Piet van Pollaert of Belgium also besting a rising star in Finland's young driver Termu Keskitalo. Our Hannah Miller got interfered with early on then taken out to the hot dog stand around the last turn. However, despite that bad racing luck, the lead belongs to the USA but like Yogi Berra said’ it ain't over till it's over’. In spite of that admonition I say we sent our best to race with the best."
At the half-way point in the World Cup competition the USA, with 30 points, is the leader. Italy, Belgium and Argentina, each with 25 points are tied for second. They are followed by Denmark (22), Finland (20), New Zealand (16), Austria (15), Czech Republic (15), Spain (9), Hungary (8) and Switzerland (3).
"I 'd rather the USA be in this spot then at the opposite end of the standings," Faraldo lamented. "We have been there before. This is preferred for sure."
Tomorrow (Sept. 3) the final three events in this year’s World Cup will be contested. Tomorrow's races will be in the afternoon and the track expects to draw 20,000 fans. Tonight the races were contested clockwise while tomorrow’s will be counter-clockwise. (John Manzi)