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Real Housewife Dalton has Hambo horse

August 02, 2019
HOME PRINT

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David Miller may not be driving one of the more well-known horses in Saturday’s (Aug. 3) Hambletonian at The Meadowlands, but he will be driving for one of the more high-profile owners in the race.

Miller will be in the sulky behind Reign Of Honor, who has two wins in 21 lifetime races along with four seconds and three thirds. He has won a total of $294,550. This year, Reign Of Honor has one win in the second leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes in a lifetime best of 1:54.2. He is a son of Father Patrick out of Margarita Momma.

While those figures may appear modest when compared to much of the field, the horse will have a pretty famous rooting section at The Meadowlands, as one of his owners is Jennifer Dalton.

Fans of Bravo Network will remember Dalton appearing in Pregnant in Heels in 2012 and one year later she was a season-long guest star in The Real Housewives of New Jersey. A friend of Teresa Giudice, one of the show’s top stars, Jennifer is also a Sotheby’s realtor who appeared on the show while trying to sell a home for Melissa and Joe Gorga, and she counts Lil’ Kim as one of her best friends.

And when the gate goes up Saturday, Reign Of Honor will have the Housewives on hand to lend vocal support.

“All the Housewives crew are going to be there,” Dalton said. “The producer wants to do a show with the horses.”

It’s a show that no one would have thought possible just five years ago. Dalton had no interest in horses for most of her life until one day she went to a race at Yonkers, where John Campbell drove her girlfriend’s horse. As they were stuck in traffic while leaving, she saw the horse trailers and became obsessed. Rolling down the window she yelled out to a trainer, who happened to be Pat Lachance. He invited her to see the horses and the two became friends.

Soon after, she entered the Meadowlands’ “Own a Horse” promotion and “won” 10 percent of UF Fast Feelin. Her first race as an owner was Jan. 2, 2016 and she never looked back.

In fact, once the contest ended, she claimed the horse. The horse was eventually claimed from Dalton, which broke her heart. “I never owned a claimer again,” she said. “I cried.”

Once Jennifer got involved in Standardbreds, she discovered a different kind of tension than that which occurred amidst the Housewives controversies.

“There’s drama in both,” she said. “But Housewives of New Jersey I got paid. This one, I pay so much money for horses and training, and you just hope you get paid back.”

Dalton now has a stable of 19 horses at trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman’s New Jersey barn. Most of them have something in common — they honor Jennifer’s 5-year-old daughter.

“All my horses are named after her,” she said.

“When you see a ‘Reign’ somewhere, it comes from us,” Dalton’s boyfriend Mike Herrera added.

Several years ago, Dalton actually brought a horse to Reign’s school for show-and-tell.

“She had me driving around in a tractor and trailer in Edgewater, N.J., right under the George Washington Bridge,” Herrera recalled.

Jennifer has completely immersed herself into harness racing. A striking, stylish woman who always looks her best, she surprises folks when they see her cleaning out the stalls. After attending several Hambletonians it became a dream for her to enter a horse in the race. She and Norman staked Reign Of Honor and made the call to enter him.

“I’m so happy,” said Dalton, who owns the horse with Deo Volente Farms, Tom Pontone, and Kentuckiana Racing Stable. “This horse is so good, he really is. I love this horse.”

The Hambo is a great morale lifter for Dalton, who suffered a serious stroke at the beginning of last year. She is able to walk and live an everyday life, but is still undergoing speech therapy, and her memory has issues at times.

“It was serious, but I’m OK now,” she said.

Jennifer thinks her horse, who is coming off a sixth-place finish in the Reynolds Memorial and drew the four hole in the second elimination, is pretty OK as well. She and Mike playfully joke about his chances in the Hambo.

“You know what, he’s a real nice horse, but he’s been second to Greenshoe (in the New Jersey Sire Stakes final),” Herrera said. “I don’t think we can beat that horse right now. To be honest, I think we’re racing for second place.”

He then directed his conversation to Dalton, saying with a laugh, “You know that; you’re a professional, you know that.

“A couple of years ago she would have been like ‘My horse is the best,’ but she realizes the business now, she understands the numbers. I’m just keeping it real.”

And what is Dalton’s version of real?

“I want to go for it all!” she said.

Either way, it’s a big day for the couple.

“Imagine,” Herrera said, “going from a 10 claimer to a Hambo horse.”

Sounds like a made-for-TV saga. (USTA)

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