Melander, Sears kick off road to Hambletonian Oaks at Big M


Trainer Marcus Melander unveiled a contender for the Aug. 7 Hambletonian Oaks at The Meadowlands Friday night (April 16), as his Imhatra AM S worked out a perfect pocket trip with Brian Sears doing the driving on the way to winning her 3-year-old debut in 1:56.3. 

Owned by Courant Inc., the daughter of 2009 Hambletonian champion Muscle Hill (who was handled by Sears) is out of the dam Tamla Celeber S, a million-dollar earner who won a Breeders Crown in 2012 when driven by Sears. 

Hambletonian eligible Swan Hill (Mattias Melander), a 3-year-old colt by Muscle Hill-Swan Wise As who is also from Melander’s barn, set sail for the lead in the 3-year-old trotting event for non-winners of one and cut out fractions of :28.4, :58.3 and 1:28 before being overtaken in deep stretch along the pylons by his stablemate to finish three-quarters-of-a-length back in second. Perfect Record was third. 

The betting public was unfazed by the fact that Imhatra AM S was making only her second career start, sending her to the gate as the 2-5 favorite, returning $2.80 to win.