by Dean Hoffman
The Hambletonian always has its share of drama simply because of its importance and its prestige in the world of trotting. But when a filly decides to challenge the colts in the big event, the Hambo takes on even greater appeal.
Females racing in the Hambletonian were plentiful in the race’s early decades because they had no comparable event restricted to fillies. In 1971 the Hambletonian Oaks was created to give the girls a race of their own. That caused a drop in the number of fillies entering the “open” division and only one filly (Duenna) won the open Hambletonian for the next 25 years.
In 1996, a supersonic lass named Continentalvictory showed that she had the right stuff to challenge the boys. She won her Hambo elimination heat in a sensational 1:52.1, setting up a second heat challenge with Lindy Lane, the other elimination winner.
Driver Mike Lachance sent Continentalvictory to the front at the start of the second heat and Bill O’Donnell tucked Lindy Lane behind her. In the stretch, Lindy Lane launched his attack and what ensued was one of the epic homestretch duels of all time. But the filly was not to be denied and she refused to be caught. Continentalvictory was the queen.
No filly has won the Hambletonian since 1996.
Catch this year’s Hambletonian on August 2nd on CBS Sports Network (check here for channel and availability in your area). A live streaming broadcast can also be view here and all the pre-, during, and post-race action can be followed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.