NJSS CHAMPS AIM FOR CLASSIC CROWNS
— Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager
HIGHTSTOWN, NJ — September 7, 2022 — After winning New Jersey Sire Stakes championships earlier this year at The Meadowlands, 3-year-olds Fashion Schooner and Pretender will return to The Big M on Friday hoping to add to their collections of trophies for state-sired trotters.
Fashion Schooner, trained by Jim Campbell, is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in the $275,000 New Jersey Classic “A” final for 3-year-old female trotters. In addition to capturing the NJSS championship in May, she counts the Hambletonian Oaks and a division of the Delvin Miller Memorial among her six victories this season.
Pretender, trained by Nancy Takter, is the 4-1 second choice in the $275,000 New Jersey Classic “A” final for 3-year-old male trotters. In addition to his NJSS title, the colt has hit the board in five Grand Circuit races this season and eight of his past nine starts overall.
The inaugural New Jersey Classic Series, sponsored by The Meadowlands and the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey, features “A” and “B” divisions for 2- and 3-year-old trotters and 2-year-old pacers. The $100,000 “B” finals for 3-year-old male and female trotters also are on Friday’s card, as well as “B” eliminations for 2-year-old male and female trotters and 2-year-old female pacers.
Friday’s 14-race slate also includes the fifth leg of the Miss Versatility Series for older female trotters. Bella Bellini is the 8-5 morning-line favorite.
Fashion Schooner, a daughter of Walner-Broadway Schooner bred and owned by Fashion Farms, was limited to three starts as a 2-year-old. This season, she has hit the board in all nine of her races, winning six and earning $481,062. Her 1:50.1 victory in the Miller is the fastest mile of the season for a 3-year-old female trotter.
“She showed speed last year, but before they do it, you just don’t know how well a horse in her case is going to transition from (1):54 to (1):50,” Campbell said. “That’s always the unknown, but she did show a lot of ability last year in her limited amount of starts.”
Fashion Schooner has started once since the Aug. 6 Hambletonian Oaks, winning an Open for 3-year-old filly trotters last week at The Meadowlands in 1:52.1. She will start the Classic final from post four with regular driver Tim Tetrick.
“I was real happy with her last race and she’s had a good week, so everything seems good with her,” Campbell said. “She’s been very good, consistent, all year long. I’m thrilled with what she’s done for us. Hopefully, we can keep her fresh for the rest of the season.”
Campbell also has the 3-1 morning-line favorite in the Classic “B” final for 3-year-old female trotters, Misswalner Fashion. She has won back-to-back starts after making breaks in two consecutive starts. For her career, she has won seven of 16 races and earned $379,469 for breeder-owner Jules Siegel of Fashion Farms.
“She had a couple bad starts, but she’s put it together her last couple races,” Campbell said. “The first time (she made a break) I thought she tried to go too fast too quick. The second time, there was no excuse for it. We lightened her up in front and she responded really well to it.”
In the Classic “A” final, Pretender enters off a second-place finish behind Temporal Hanover in the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial on Aug. 20 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Temporal Hanover, who earlier this season won the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial and was third in the Hambletonian, is the 3-5 favorite in the Classic’s four-horse field.
Pretender, who defeated Temporal Hanover by a neck in the NJSS championship, has hit the board in nine of 11 starts this year, winning three. He has earned $300,653. For his career, the son of Muscle Hill-Maven has won five of 23 races, hit the board an additional nine times, and earned $416,281.
“He’s a consistent horse,” said Herb Liverman, who bred Pretender with John Fielding and Joyce McClelland and owns the colt with those two partners as well as Caviart Farms. “He’s not that big, but size doesn’t always matter. I’ve had a lot of good small horses. Some little horses have big, long gaits. And you can’t see their heart.
“Pretender is a nice horse. He hasn’t always had the best luck, but he tries very hard. He does his best. Quite often he’s hung in there when he’s had first-over trips or cutting-out trips. He keeps trying right to the end.”
Andy McCarthy will drive Pretender, leaving from post one. Brian Sears will drive Temporal Hanover for trainer Marcus Melander from post two. Rounding out the compact field are Melander-trained Periculum and Ray Schnittker’s King Of The North.
In the $100,000 Classic “B” final for 3-year-old male trotters, Robertsin is the 3-1 favorite.
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