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The hambletonian

Trainer says Hambletonian format favors Royalty For Life

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Royalty For Life, born and bred in Massachusetts and trained by Norfolk’s George Ducharme, is among the favorites in Saturday’s Hambletonian, harness racing’s top race for 3-year-old trotting colts.

Royalty For Life will be driven by Brian Sears and is the 8-5 morning-line favorite in the first of three elimination races at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

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“I’ve never had a horse like this, so it’s pretty cool,” said Ducharme. “I’ve done this my entire life, and I’ve never done this kind of circuit, so it’s an experience for me, as well.”

Royalty For Life, from Chip Campbell’s Courtlin Farm in Belchertown, Mass., and owned by Campbell, Alfred Ross, and Paul Fontaine, is favored because the race format plays to his strengths. The Hambletonian is renewing a same-day elimination and finals format for the first time since 1996, and Ducharme’s horse has stamina.

“He’s a big, stout horse, and I think the heats will help him, if anything,” he said. “Hopefully, we get through the first one and we’ll be there for the second.”

The top three horses from the three elimination races and the highest lifetime earner of the three fourth-place finishers qualify for the $1 million final at 4:41 p.m., televised on CBS.

Wheeling N Dealin is a 2-1 morning-line favorite in the second elimination. Corky is favored in the third at 2-1.

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