Thus far on the local scene there’s only one thing that Robert Silberberg’s Manhardt has lacked: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Maybe tomorrow (Saturday) will be the night he gets a little respect at the betting windows when he goes after his third consecutive $21,500 Invitational victory at Hawthorne.
The four-year-old pacer went off at 7-1odds in his first Hawthorne start (June 23) despite two weeks earlier winning a Balmoral Free For All. A first-over trip saw him drop only a half-length runner-up decision in 1:51 flat. A week later (June 30) the son of Western Hanover was really overlooked, this time at 15-1 odds when he rallied from seventh at the half to post a 1:51.1 win and paid $33.80.
Last Saturday Manhardt had the rail in Hawthorne’s six-horse Invite and yet he was only the 8-1 fourth choice of the betting public. This time he won and returned $17.40 with a 1:50.3 mile that equaled his lifetime best paced earlier this year at The Meadowlands.
“We bought him last fall for $40,000 at the Harrisburg Sale,” said trainer Jim Eaton. “He’s gotten his purchase price back and a lot more.” In 16 season starts Manhardt has banked $87,640 for his Farmington, Michigan owner. “He had three wins earlier in the year at The Meadowlands and then he raced well at Balmoral.
“I told the owner that I thought he might even race better at Hawthorne,” continued the 50-year-old native of Howell, Michigan. “The horse has had a quarter-crack that has been bothering him for about the last six weeks and thought that he might like the softer surface at Hawthorne a little better . . . and I guess he has.
“I don’t really know how talented Manhardt is or just how fast he can go but every start he gives you everything he’s got in the tank,” said Eaton. Manhardt’s driver Brent Holland concurs. “This horse is just real solid every week and the same horse shows up every time.”
Eaton praised the job Holland has done with Manhardt.
“We’ve left with Manhardt in just about every start. Not so much to get to the front but rather to get him into the race,” said Eaton. “It was Brent who suggested two weeks ago that we duck him and see how he races from behind. He thought that was a lot of front end speed in the race that night. I told him it was a great idea, and obviously it worked out very well.
“I thought that night that it was as good of a drive that Brent ever gave me on one of my horses. Then last Saturday I thought Brent’s drive was even better,” Eaton said. “Right now he’s making all of the right decisions behind his horses. It’s almost like a major league baseball player who is hitting everything in sight and says the baseball looks like a basketball. That’s how it’s been lately with Brent. Every move he makes turns out to be the right move.”
Manhardt could be headed to the $100,000 Robert F. Carey memorial stake on closing night (August 4) at Hawthorne. “Manhardt is eligible for the Carey, along with Thisbigdogwilfight and Third Day, who beat some tough classy older horses last week,” said Eaton. Thisbigdogwilfight was to qualify on Wednesday, July 11 at Balmoral.