Winner survives inquiry, Mr Muscleman scratched
June 30, 2007
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Trainer, driver and co-owner Roger Hammer likely breathed a sigh of relief with the late scratch of Mr Muscleman in the $240,000 Titan Cup at the Meadowlands Saturday, and then he had to hold his breath after he and Vivid Photo had to withstand an inquiry before being declared the official winner.
Hammer admitted in the winner\'s circle his pre-race strategy went out the window about 45 minutes to post time when the Meadowlands\' race-caller Sam McKee announced Mr Muscleman was scratched \"lame.\" As a result of the scratch, Vivid Photo, the 2005 Hambletonian winner, was sent off the 2-1 second choice behind 6-5 favorite Corleone Kosmos and driver John Campbell.
Hammer got away second with Vivid Photo as he yielded the front to Sand Vic, driven by Brian Sears. Sand Vic went an opening quarter of :27 and then backed the half off to :56, before Swan Image and driver David Miller came first-over. Sears picked up the tempo and Sand Vic reached the three-quarter station in 1:24.1, putting away Swan Image.
Down the stretch Hammer angled Vivid Photo out of the two hole, moving between Sand Vic and a rallying Corleone Kosmos, who had followed Swan Image second-over. As Vivid Photo was taking the lead he moved a bit into Corleone Kosmos, with one of his sulky wheels briefly going underneath one of that rival. The two trotters reached the wire heads apart in 1:52.1, but as Hammer said afterward when the number \"3\" stopped flashing on the toteboard and the judges declared the race \"official,\" it was \"no harm, no foul.\"
As for the tight quarters in the stretch, Hammer said, \"My horse came out a little bit and maybe John\'s came in a little bit, but we never touched each other.\"
Hammer shares ownership in the 5-year-old gelded son of SJ\'s Photo with Todd Schadel. The victory was Vivid Photo\'s third of the year in five starts and 30th overall in his career. His earnings now stand at $2,394,189.
As for Mr Muscleman, trainer Noel Daley said afterward, \"He wasn\'t good tonight warming up. He\'s never perfect warming up, but he just wasn\'t himself, so we decided to scratch him and just get him ready for the Nat Ray. He was turning his head and he was worse than usual. He just wasn\'t himself tonight.\"
To see the Titan Cup video, sponsored by Preferred Equine Marketing, click here.