Harness racing's answer to the Kentucky Derby is the $1,520,333 Hambletonian at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, New Jersey. A full field of 10 top 3-year-old trotters contested the 84th running of this 1 mile classic on Saturday afternoon with Muscle Hill sent off as the 3-10 favorite for trainer Greg Peck and driver Brian Sears over 4-1 second choice Explosive Matter, trained by Noel Daley with Ron Pierce in the bike. The rest of the field was dismissed at double digit odds, led by 10-1 third choice Hot Shot Blue Chip for trainer Jonas Czernyson and driver Mike Lachance.
Brian Sears sent Muscle Hill to the lead on the rail, getting quick fractions of 27 1/5, 55, and 1:23. Explosive Matter sat second 1 1/2 lengths behind. Entering the stretch, Sears asked Muscle Hill to pull away and he did, widening his lead the length of the stretch and finishing under wraps 6 lengths clear in a track record tying 1:50 1/5, also a new stakes record. It was another 3 1/4 lengths back from Explosive Matter to 60-1 Calchips Brute third.
Winning trainer Greg Peck said, "Midway around the last turn, I could see Ronny (Pierce) tapping Explosive Matter and I knew what that meant. I know what Muscle Hill is like and when Brian steps on the gas he's like a sports car that just goes into overdrive and does it easily. I thought he'd go in 1:50 today."
Driver Brian Sears, celebrating his first Hambletonian, added, "It's very humbling to win such prestigious races on a day like today. I knew I had the horse this year to get it done and I never had any doubts. This horse has just been waiting for me to call on him. I knew he's been sitting on a big one and he didn't let me down." Sears set a world record for earnings in a single day by a driver, his 5 wins on the card worth a total of $1,555,674.50.