Melander hopes "it's easy being Green"
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After watching Gimpanzee take care of business and remain undefeated earlier this week, trainer Marcus Melander turns his attention to two more of the sport’s top Hambletonian Stakes contenders, Greenshoe and Swedish-bred Green Manalishi, in Saturday’s $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Greenshoe, a perfect 3-for-3 in 2019 and owner of the two fastest miles of the season for a 3-year-old trotter, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite. Green Manalishi, who made his seasonal debut in last week’s Beal eliminations, winning his division by 1-1/4 lengths, is the 3-1 second choice.
All three of Melander’s horses figure prominently in the Road to the Hambletonian rankings compiled by Meadowlands Racetrack announcer/analyst Ken Warkentin: Greenshoe No. 1, Gimpanzee No. 2, and Green Manalishi No. 4.
The $1 million Hambletonian, harness racing’s premier event for 3-year-old trotters, is Aug. 3 at The Meadowlands.
“A lot can change in those (upcoming) weeks, but at least now everything is good,” Melander said.
Greenshoe, a two-time New Jersey Sire Stakes champion, enters the Beal final off a 3-1/4 length win over Osterc in 1:52.3 in his elimination last week. The son of Father Patrick-Designed To Be has been unthreatened in his three victories this season, capturing his two previous starts by a total of 9-1/2 lengths with times of 1:51.2 and 1:50.2. Last week, he was fourth at the half-mile point but already on his way to overtaking leader Osterc by the final turn.
“He did what he always does; it’s hard to keep up with him when he puts in that gear,” Melander said. “When he puts in that gear, he can go so fast it looks like the other horses are standing still. It was a good mile. We didn’t have to stretch him out more than we had to. He won under wraps and everything has looked good after that.”
Greenshoe’s development has vaulted him from Hambletonian wild card to Hambletonian favorite at this point in the season. Last year, the highly regarded colt went off stride behind the starting gate or at the beginning of each of his four races, although he was able to recover and win two. He has been on his best behavior this year for driver Brian Sears.
“I don’t look when they go up to the gate,” Melander said with a laugh. “I’m not watching until I hear they are away, then I can take a look.
“I always look at the replays and it looks like he’s comfortable and behaving. You always have that in your head, what he did last year, but he’s getting better and better for every start. Hopefully he continues to behave. It will take some good horse to catch him, that’s for sure.”
For his career, Greenshoe has won five of seven races and $201,723. He is owned by Courant Inc., Hans Backe, Lars Granqvist, and Morten Langli.
Green Manalishi, a son of Muscle Hill-Naga Morich S owned by Courant Inc., was a multiple Grand Circuit stakes winner last year. He won five of 10 races and finished no worse than second on his way to $510,557. His progress during the spring was slowed by some now resolved issues, which pushed his debut to the Beal. He won his elimination in 1:52.1 with Tim Tetrick in the sulky.
“He had a little soreness issue and some bad luck in his qualifiers,” Melander said. “It was nothing major and everything has been great since we took care of it. For his first race of the year and to go (1):52.1, it was a good mile. It looked like he had a lot of power left. We’re excited for the final.”
If all goes well following the Beal, Melander plans to send Greenshoe and Green Manalishi to the Meadowlands for the Stanley Dancer Memorial on July 13 in what would likely be their final preps for the Hambletonian.
Gimpanzee’s path is uncertain at this point, with the Dancer or a trip to Tioga Downs for a July 19 leg of the New York Sire Stakes under consideration. On Tuesday, Gimpanzee won a division of the New York Sire Stakes at Yonkers Raceway. The returning Dan Patch Award winner is unbeaten in 11 lifetime races.
“We’ll see where we race next,” Melander said. “We could race him in another sire stakes to get more points for the final. (The final) is a lot of money to race for.”
For now, though, Melander is focused on the Beal and Greenshoe and Green Manalishi.
“We trained them Wednesday here, very light training, but they felt really good,” Melander said. “I’m happy with both of them.”
The Earl Beal Jr. Memorial honors the former president of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association, who was a driving force to bring casino gaming to the state’s racetracks. Following is the field for this year’s race.
1-Green Manalishi S-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander-3/1
2-Greenshoe-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander-2/1
3-Summit In Sight-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-8/1
4-Wittyville-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-15/1
5-Osterc-Yannick Gingras-Per Engblom-10/1
6-Goes Down Smooth-Dexter Dunn-Ron Burke-4/1
7-Marseille-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt-8/1
8-Swandre The Giant-David Miller-Ron Burke-5/1