Muscle Hill Ready For Dancer Memorial

Hambletonian favorite Muscle Hill, driven by Brian Sears and trained by Greg Peck, tuned up for Friday’s Stanley Dancer Memorial with a 1:54.2 win in a qualifier on July 9 at The Meadowlands. He won by 10 lengths over stablemate My Back Pages. The $1.5-million Hambletonian, the premier race for three-year-old trotters, is August 8 at the Meadowlands.

Muscle Hill is 2-for-2 this year and has won 10 of 11 lifetime races. His career earnings are $944,751. He was the 2008 Dan Patch Award winner for best two-year-old male trotter.

“He was excellent,” Peck said. “It was interesting to see the view, because I drove My Back Pages. What I saw answered my question of why (Muscle Hill) is as fast as he is. I’m surprised myself by his speed, but if you watch him going, his four legs are like four wheels on a car. They spin around and around and around perfectly synchronized – he has such acceleration. It’s just like wheels rolling on a car.

“The old-time trainers used to say you want their gait to be like a barrel rolling down a hill, and that’s what he is. He was born with that.”

My Back Pages also is eligible to the Dancer. He has won two of seven races this year and earned $87,650, but was ninth in his most recent start in a division of the Dickerson Cup on July 3 at The Meadowlands.

“As happy as I was about Muscle Hill, I was unhappy about My Back Pages,” Peck said. “They’re like children, you have to care for all of them; it’s not like you can care for Muscle Hill more than the next one. So I have to turn my attention to My Back Pages; I’d like to have them both in the Hambletonian. Two weeks ago, I thought we were on our way with My Back Pages, but now we’ve hit a bump in the road. He didn’t finish up his mile well (July 9).

“I drove him to see what he was like. He just didn’t have it at the end. I wasn’t expecting him to go toe to toe with Muscle Hill, but I expected him to be within a few lengths, but he didn’t do that.”

Other Dancer eligibles include Goodtimes Stakes winner Federal Flex, who is rated No. 2 behind Muscle Hill in the “Road to the Hambletonian” rankings provided by Meadowlands announcer Ken Warkentin, along with third-rated Explosive Matter, No. 4 Cesar A Blue Chip, No. 5 Tom Cango, No. 6 Citation Lindy, No. 9 Mr Cantab, and No. 10 Truth In Action.

Explosive Matter is coming off a Dickerson Cup win (over Citation Lindy and Tom Cango) in 1:55. Trained by Noel Daley and driven by Ron Pierce, the colt has won seven of nine lifetime races. Cesar A Blue Chip also is coming off a Dickerson triumph, in 1:54.1, for Daley and driver Tim Tetrick.

Mr Cantab, who has five victories in seven career races, won in 1:53.3 in non-stakes action on July 10 at the Meadowlands. He is driven by Andy Miller and trained by Erv Miller. Truth In Action, driven by Tim Tetrick and trained by Blair Burgess, was second in the Goodtimes and fifth in a Zweig division.

In addition, Copy Catch is coming off a win in a division of the Zweig Memorial on July 10 at Tioga Downs. He is trained by Jimmy Takter and driven by John Campbell.

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