Royalty For Life

Race Summary


Royalty For Life won $1 million Hambletonian final for 3-year-old trotters on Saturday afternoon at The Meadowlands Racetrack. 


The winner of the first elimination heat in 1:52 earlier in the day, Royalty For Life came back to capture the final in 1:52 1/5 for his fourth straight win. 


It was the Hambo debut for trainer George Ducharme. 


Driver Brian Sears had a banner day, winning both the Hambletonian and the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for trotting fillies with Bee A Magician. He also pulled off the same double in 2009, winning the Hambo with Muscle Hill and the Oaks with Broadway Schooner. 


“I thought I had an opportunity to have a really good day,” Sears said. “It could also be a bad day, if you don’t have any luck.” 


Royalty For Life beat Smilin Eli by 3 1-4 lengths in the final with Corky third. 


A rough start to the season for Royalty For Life led to a smooth finish in the sport’s richest race. 


Royalty For Life was stuck in quarantine for several weeks in May at Vernon Down when that track was hit with an outbreak of equine herpes virus. 


When he got to the races, Royalty For Life couldn’t stay on gait, making breaks in his first three starts. 


While concerned about the miscues, Ducharme believed a steady diet of racing was cure for what ailed the Massachusetts-foaled colt. 


Turns out Ducharme was right. 


“I wasn’t sure we’d get this far,” Ducharme said. “It took a few starts to get going but now he’s back to the horse I thought he’d be.” 


Royalty For Life got his first win of the campaign in the Meadowlands’ Stanley Dancer Memorial. From there, the colt was better, stronger and more confident with each subsequent race. 


It culminated with a pair of powerful wins on Hambletonian Day. 


Starting from the rail in the final, Royalty For Life fired away strongly, forcing Smilin Eli to drop in second. 


Spider Blue Chip ranged up to challenge but Sears was sitting confidently. 


“My intention was just to get him out on his best foot and get everybody seated,” Sears said. “That’s the way it worked out.” 


Royalty For Life improved to 11 for 21 for the New England-based ownership team of Alfred Ross, Raymond Campbell, Jr. and Paul Fontaine. 


This was the first time since 1996 that the Hambletonian and the elimination heats were raced on the same day. 


Royalty For Life, Creatine and Spider Blue Chip all posted pacesetting wins in the eliminations. 


The three heats trimmed the field of 23 down to 10 for the final. The top three finishers in each elimination advanced to the final, along with Dontyouforgetit, the richest fourth-place finisher. 


Creatine was the well-rated winner of the second elimination heat in 1:52 4/5 for driver Mike Lachance, trainer Bob Stewart and owners Diamond Creek Racing. 


Speed held once again in the final heat as Spider Blue Chip took the third and final elimination in 1:53 4/5. Ron Pierce drove for trainer Chuck Sylvester and owners David Mc Duffee and Melvin Hartman.