Fillies once again have big shot at Hambletonian

EAST RUTHERFORD — Fillies have won two of the last four Hambletonians and the trend might continue Saturday with Jiggy Jog S and Joviality S both making the final of trotting’s biggest race of the year for 3 year olds.

Joviality S and Jiggy Jog S are the second-and-third choices, respectively, in the morning line for the $1 million race at the Meadowlands. Fifteen fillies have won the Hambletonian in 96 races with Ramona Hill (2020) and Atlanta (2018) being the most recent.

Rebuff, who won the Breeders Crown for 2-year-olds male trotters last year, is the horse to beat. The Tim Tetrick-driven colt is undefeated in three starts this year and brings a six-race winning streak in the mile race.

Meadowlands Racetrack

“On the front, he looks around and goofs off and waits for somebody to get to him,” Tetrick said. “It’s looks deceiving, like he’s done, but he’s not even close to being done.”

Joviality S opened the trotting Triple Crown this year, beating the colts in the Yonkers Trot. The filly finished a close third to Jiggy Jog S in her elimination last weekend, despite starting from the outside No. 10 post position for driver Brian Sears.

“She felt great and she looked great,” trainer Marcus Melander said. “Brian said he was super happy with her. We just need a little bit of luck. It’s the Hambo, right?”

There’s an interesting family angle for the top two contenders.

Lucas Wallin is the 29-year-old trainer of Rebuff and is aiming for his first Hambletonian win. His wife, Mikaela, is the caretaker of Joviality S. She is the sister of Melander, who is Wallin’s brother-in-law.

Jiggy Jog S has four wins and two seconds this year. The filly is trained by Ake Svanstedt, who won last year’s Hambletonian with Captain Corey, and will be driven by Dexter Dunn.

Rebuff and Jiggy Jog S won the eliminations to determine the field of 10 for the race, each posting a winning time of 1:52.2.

“Dexter said she won with a little power left also. He didn’t need to ask her nothing. She just did it herself. That was good,” Svanstedt said.