Hambogate 2017; “What the Hill” Happened?

NEW YORKAug. 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — On August 5, the day of the 92nd Hambletonian, the penultimate competition of the Harness Racing world, a beautiful August day, the sun shining. Droves of racing enthusiasts of all ages from nations across the globe entered the New Jersey Meadowlands to see the best of the three-year old crop of Standardbred Trotters raced to become amongst the immortals of harness history, the Hambletonian Winner. Many thousands were in attendance, and millions around the world watched the crème de la crème race for the illustrious title.

The race was action packed from the moment the starting gate opened. The excitement mounted leading past the half and around the final turn and like many great races before; the stretch drive would determine the victor through the striking synergy of both human and equine athletes.

Cheers roared across the grandstand and across the world, the loudest from the owners, when ½ ways down the stretch, What the Hill taped into his class and blew past the leader, A Perfect Spirit, to easily win the mother of all harness races.

That was not to be the fairytale ending for this horse or its connections. Only minutes later, due to a stretch drive inquiry, the judges disqualified What the Hill and named the second place horse, A Perfect Spirit the winner of the 2017 Hambletonian. A collective groan was heard throughout the stands, and with it, millions of fans, enthusiasts and could be fans from around the globe were given another reason to be disenchanted by the unbridled and unfair bureaucracy of the sport.

Connections to appeal Hambletonian disqualification

Stathis is certainly not alone with his viewpoints the owners and connections were quick to appeal to the judges.

Ron Burke, The trainer of What the Hill was quoted as saying there was only “5 minutes between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” I know this feeling of “lightning striking” all too well, one memory takes me to my 2013 Hambletonian experience with Celebrity Maserati.

Stathis was quoted, in his opinion; the disqualification of What the Hill was at the very least an egregious mistake. More so when considering the magnitude of this race and the resulting economic and social consequences that could take down the harness racing industry and devastate the local and national economies.  He further stated I would not be in favor of this but would be more sympathetic to a lesser evil, if all three horses were proportionately penalized, not one disqualified and the other two rewarded.

In addition to the agony suffered by the owners and fans, we must raise awareness to the catastrophic and unintended consequences one race will have on agriculture and the entire US Economy.

The Unintended Consequences (Brief Summation)

“The purpose of this release is to raise awareness to the catastrophic and unintended consequences one race will have to all of us and our children if we don’t act immediately and decisively,” Mr. Stathis added.

Breakdown of the Video:

Stathis took the time to break down his technical analysis on how the video evidence from the race clearly shows that #4 What The Hill and driver David Miller could not be held responsible (with all certainty, not solely liable) for the interference or the break of #9, Guardian Angel AS.

A licensed Owner, Trainer and Driver, of harness horses, with patented technology for training and racing horses as well plus extensive expertise in evidence based research and having reviewed the tapes countless times, frame by frame.

In this court of public opinion, your viewpoint matters. Please don’t take my word for it, with a fresh open mind just look at the full, slow motion video that was shown at the live race. Besides the incident itself very troubling to me is what “clips were selected” to reveal to the fans when the disqualification was being announced. Even more disturbing is what video evidence was omitted at the critical moment of the disqualification announcement.

Make close observation of the “Limited View” that was shown during the announcement of the disqualification, “The Limited View” starts after the # 3 horse makes a very significant move/ lane change. The #6 horse does a lesser obvious to the novice, “drift”  but very significant move in the opposite direction.

As the saying goes, maybe you can fool the fans, but you can’t fool the players. Harness racing is a game of skill not a game of chance, our fans include the best horseman from around the world,  many of which own a relative of the connections or the disqualified horse. Some were stakeholders simply from  a two dollar win ticket, and others that just liked that chose him because they like David Millers Colors.

The Judges may have announced that they disqualified the #4, but that’s kind of cold in-it-of-itself. They didn’t disqualify just a horse, they disqualified thousand if not millions around the world. The  above-interested parties plus all the ones I missed down to the church or charities Hill’s connection contribute to or the waitress that served Ron Burke breakfast the next morning, what kind of tip did she receive.

When you watch the video, answer for me if in the future David Miller should be called the Buckeye (or) the Iceman. Except for a quick look over his right shoulder when he was “blind sided, from behind,” you would think he was meditating for the entire race and up to just 1/8 a mile from winning his first ever Hambletonian. That’s why he is a legend and major factor why the headlines and history should record:

Ron BurkeDavid Miller and What the Hill Won the 2017 Hambletonian.

Furthermore, Stathis added “I have no ownership in this horse, and I consider myself a friend to all those involved in this incident and their connections. That makes this especially hard for me, but someone has to lead the charge. I offer these statements as my personal opinion, subjecting myself to criticism. I do so because “I answer to a higher power,” and know I am doing this purely for the greater good. Most of all I am not going to watch the sport that founded the Olympic games just fade away, nor allow our economy to collapse and our horses to be to slaughtered.

I have been blessed with all I need in my life and much more; a loving wife, children and family with dozens of great employees, despite being a “biblical sinner.” I love all things exotic, I have owned many exotics cars, exotic chariots and exotic horses I have met and dined with many exotic people and have competed at all levels of harness and chariot racing competition few as exotic as the Hambletonian.  I have had another blessing the gift of loving horses and having received as much from them as I have given. It’s hard to sum it up but in the words of Ronald Reagan;

“There is nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse.”

About Sam Stathis:

Sam Stathis, founder of the World Chariot Racing Federation, The New USTA and Celebrity Farms Racing Stables has been an avid horseman of over 20 years with multiple Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks contenders to his credit over the years. Some of his top jewels include; Muscle Hill, the sire of What the Hill, Celebrity Secret, Celebrity Maserati, Celebrity Sweedie, Celebrity Athena, Celebrity Juliet, Celebrity Tribute, Celebrity Deville and others.

About World Chariot and the New USTA

Dedicated to rebranding harness racing as the sport of the future, and to reintroducing exotic chariots to the Olympics. Showcasing the thrills and excitement of Formula One Racing, franchise ownership opportunities of the NFL and fractional horse ownership and benefits costing as little as five dollars. The World Chariot Racing Federation brings together exotic cars, exotic chariots, exotic horses and exotic people living exotic lifestyles. It also creates high‐end happenings bringing together the best athletes, celebrities, and connoisseurs from around the world.

Made up of breeders, owners, trainers, drivers, tracks, fans, media groups and corporate sponsors, the Federation also seeks to lead the field in the green revolution. Stimulating economic growth, creating advanced technical education and certification programs, advancing workforce development by “driving”  the agricultural industries technological revolution. See the exciting video about Sam Stathis and WRCF.

The court of public opinion:

Keep a scout’s eye out for upcoming articles on the ways in which we can all work to rebuild the glorious industry of Harness Racing, to stimulate growth of our economy not further divide us.

Please Vote Here.

SOURCE World Chariot Racing Federation

Share post via

Subscribe to become a harness racing insider!

Our Location

497 Canal Street
New York, NY 10013

Contact Us

Phone: (212) 627-8220
Email: info@worldchariot.org