The first three finishers in each elimination, plus the fourth-place finisher with the highest career earnings, advanced to the Merrie Annabelle Final on Hambletonian Day, Saturday, August 8.
Cantab It All, the first of two elim winners for trainer Jimmy Takter, popped the pocket at the top of the stretch and flew home to take the fourth race of the night in 1:55.3. In The Mean Time rallied late to finish a half-length behind in second, while the pace-setting Ipo Blue Chip held on for third.
The daughter of Cantab Hall-Bettor Odds was an $80,000 yearling purchase for owners Christina Takter of East Windsor, NJ, John Fielding of Toronto, ON, Melvin Hartman of Ottawa, ON and Falkbolagen Ab of Malmo, SWE. Cantab It All, driven by John Campbell, is now perfect in four lifetime starts.
Costa Rica, another Takter trainee, got away fourth off the gate, made a move up the backstretch and powered home to win the second elimination in a lifetime best of 1:56.4. With driver Ron Pierce in tow, Costa Rica dug in gamely to overpower the late rally of Behindclosedoors and take the fifth race on the card. Spicy Wings was third.
The Muscles Yankee-Examination filly was a $23,000 yearling purchase by Takter’s wife, Christina, and John and Jim Fielding. Costa Rica has now won three of four lifetime starts.
“These fillies are different.” Takter said after winning the second elimination. “This filly [Costa Rica] is really tough, she never gives up. She really had to work hard today, coming first up. It’s really hard for a young horse to do those things, she held her own down the stretch and I really like this filly.”
Secret Magic, who finished fourth in the second elimination, also moved on to the final.
Poof Shes Gone took the third Merrie Annabelle elimination easily in a lifetime best of 1:56.1. Driver David Miller steered Poof Shes Gone to the lead at the half and she held off a late rally by Bone A Fide for the victory. Nimble Kronos was third.
It was the first win of two lifetime starts for the Richard “Nifty” Norman trainee. The daughter of Kadabra-Travelin Superlite was a $170,000 yearling purchase by Melvin Hartman of Ontario, Herb Liverman of Miami Beach, FL Dave McDuffee of Nashua, NH and John Fielding of Toronto, ON.