Tight Lines looks for Hambo upset for Gregory
August 03, 2016
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You've got to be in it to win it. That's the thought process the connections of Tight Lines are taking after drawing post 7 in a field of nine for Saturday's 91st Hambletonian at the Meadowlands.
Tight Lines, who will be in the Hambletonian's first elimination (race 8), has been selected as the longest shot on the board with 25-1 morning line for driver/trainer Jeff Gregory, who also co-owns with Steven Finkelstein's Jesmeral Stable and Bill Richardson.
And it doesn't bother Gregory one bit.
"Obviously he's going to be a long shot, but this is a tough race to pass up," said Gregory. "He's a nice little horse. He's an over-achiever, if anything. He's never really disappointed us. By no means do we expect anybody to respect us too much, but we didn't want to pass up the opportunity. You don't know how many more of these opportunities you'll get. It's a shot in the dark, but we want to give it a try."
Tight Lines enters the Hambletonian off a fourth-place finish in a consolation division of the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial on July 24 at Vernon Downs, which was won by Sutton, who will be in the Hambletonian's second elimination (race 9).
All of Tight Lines victories have come in conditioned races, with his last win coming on July 12 at Yonkers Raceway. He also finished second to Love Matters (also in Hambletonian's second elimination) in a division of the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes on June 2 at Harrah's Philadelphia.
Tight Lines is getting back into the fold of things this year after being limited to two races last year because of injury.
"He actually got scared from a tractor and ran into a fence at Showplace Farms, chipping a bone in his hind leg. It was unfortunate at the time, because he was one of our most promising horses," said Gregory. "We just started him a couple times to get him some experience. He's a little bit green this year, but he's really done everything we've asked of him. He's learning. It doesn't seem like he's ever tired. He's always willing, races his mile, and he has raced good every time we have raced him. He raced super in the Zweig. We had a terrible post (nine) and he finished great. He came home in :27.1 and did it the right way."
This will be Gregory's third career appearance in a Hambletonian elimination race and the first in 13 years. His last two horses: Prowler (1998) and Istanbul (2003) did not make it through Hambletonian eliminations the week before in those years.
The 49-year-old Gregory, who announced he was cutting back on driving a bit and returning to training horses two years ago, established his career high for driving wins in 2004, with 581. His career best for purses came in 2010, with $5.73 million. Overall, he has won nearly 6,800 races as a driver. He also has had some success on Hambletonian Day by driving Jalopy to a nose victory over Blur, driven by Brian Sears, in the 2005 Hambletonian Oaks.
Gregory is glad he is back and but is happy to be back for another reason.
"Anytime you can get into the Hambletonian, it's a special day for sure. You have to relish the opportunity," said Gregory. "The horse is a little bit special for us because we got him as a yearling from Bill Weaver, who passed away last February. I was lucky and fortunate enough to have another owner to step in with me and I'm sure we had a little help looking down on us from Bill." (Hambletonian Society)