Indiana was well represented on the biggest stage in harness racing Saturday, Aug. 5. The Hambletonian winner has breeder ties to Indiana, M-M’s Dream, last year’s Trotter of the Year in Indiana was a winner, and Harrahs Hoosier Park’s standout racing analyst Emily Gaskin was part of the CBS crew covering the event at The Meadowlands.
M-M’s Dream came home with a win a month ago at The Meadowlands in the Hambletonian Maturity and was right back at it on the undercard of the Hambletonian. The four-year-old Swan for All mare and driver David Miller turned in a gate to wire effort for the comfortable win by two lengths in 1:50.0. The Indiana sired trotting mare with the recognizable gold blinkers trotted home in :26.0 to earn the new lifetime mark in the $131,250 Dr. John R. Steele Memorial. Jiggy Jog S and Dexter Dunn finished second over Warrawee Xenia and Bob Mclure for third.
Trained by Henry Graber Jr. last year and now trained by Ron Burke, M-M’s Dream paid $9.80 for the win. She is owned by Eleven Star Stables off Indiana, Frank Baldachino, and Hillside Stables. Mervin Miller bred the outstanding mare, who is five for eight this season since switching lanes to the East Coast. After going 12 of 13 last year in Indiana, M-M’s Dream is now 23 for 29 lifetime. Her win in the Steele Memorial made her the sport’s newest millionaire and she joins a short list of Indiana sired horses over the million dollar mark.
The race led up to the 98th edition of the $1 million Hambletonian with an exciting finish to a horse unexpected in the winner’s circle. Tactical Approach, trained by Nancy Takter, moved up the inside in the stretch to grab the victory for Scott Zeron. Trotting home in :26.4, Tactical Approach earned the win in 1:50.3, a length over Oh Well and Tim Tetrick. Up Your Deo and Ake Svanstedt finished third.
Tactical Approach paid $26.80 and gave Nancy Takter her first Hambletonian win. Robert Leblanc, John Fielding, and Joe Sbrocco & Jaf Racing own the Tactical Landing colt. He was bred by Steve Stewart and Oakwood Farms of Indiana. Harvey Knepp is the Corresponding Officer of Oakwood Farms, based in Montgomery, Ind. The dam, Sarcy, a daughter of Donato Hanover, is a 100 percent producing mare. In addition to Tactical Approach, she has produced the trotting gelding Double Deceiver, who has a mark of 1:50.2 and more than $770,000 on his card. Sarcy has been owned by Oakwood Farms and Stewart since 2017. She was bred by a partnership that includes John Fielding, co-owner of Tactical Approach.
All the action was covered by Gaskin, who co-hosted the one-hour telecast on CBS Sports Network with Greg Blanchard. It was her debut on the program.