7/30/2013 2:15 PM
By By Tom Canavan AP Sports Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Royalty For Life, Wheeling N Dealin and Corky have been made the favorites in the three Hambletonian eliminations at the Meadowlands Racetrack this weekend.
The wide-open field of 23 was divided into three heats as trotting's most prestigious race reverts to its more traditional form. The top three finishers in each heat, along with the highest money-earner among the fourth place finishers, return later that afternoon for the $1 million final for 3-year-olds, the richest race in harness racing.
Unlike other heat races, the winner does not have to win twice on the same day. The winner of the final is the Hambletonian champion.
This marks the first time since 1996 that Hambletonian heats and final will be raced on the same afternoon.
In recent years, Hambletonian eliminations were held one week before the final.
Royalty For Life is the 8-5 favorite from post 8, the outside slot, in the first heat. He won the Stanley Dancer at the Meadowlands earlier this month and has captured his last two races. Brian Sears will drive for trainer George Ducharme.
Wheeling N Dealin, last season's champion 2-year-old trotter, is the 2-1 favorite from the rail in the second elimination with eight starters. Sylvain Filion will be in the sulky for trainer Dustin Jones.
Seven line up for the third heat where Corky, winner of the Beal Memorial at Pocono Downs, is the 2-1 favorite. The colt will start from post No. 5 with David Miller driving for trainer Jimmy Takter.