Day At The Track

Big Rigs eyes big time in Wellwood

11:03 PM 13 Sep 2010 NZST
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Big Rigs
Big Rigs - A son of Andover Hall - Filly At Bigs
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Sometimes, a roll of the dice pays off. That, so far, seems to be the case for harness racing trainer Kelly O'Donnell with his 2-year-old trotting colt Big Rigs, who on Saturday night (September 18) faces nine rivals in the C$500,000 William Wellwood Memorial at Mohawk Racetrack.

Big Rigs is a son of Andover Hall, out of the mare Filly At Bigs. His mom won the 2003 Filly World Trotting Derby and was second in the Elegantimage, as well as being second in the 2002 Breeders Crown and Merrie Annabelle. Her first two foals, both fillies, failed to register a win, but O'Donnell was unfazed.

"He's out of a heck of a mare," O'Donnell said. "The first two (foals) haven't done much, but a mare like that, sooner or later you think she's going to throw something. You've got to take a chance somewhere along the way, so we took a chance."

O'Donnell purchased Big Rigs for $70,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale. The colt is owned by Ed Mullinax, Miller's Stable Inc. (Barbara and Robert Miller) and Dean Miller's DM Stables.

"We were looking for an Andover Hall; he just kind of fit what we needed at the time," O'Donnell said. "He was a good looking colt and he had pretty good video. He had a good appearance about him."

Big Rigs has won two of four starts and $74,694. He finished second to Pastor Stephen, who survived an objection for alleged interference entering the final turn, in his Wellwood elimination race last Friday. After an opening quarter-mile of :27 seconds, Big Rigs and driver John Campbell brushed from second to the front and brought the field to the half in :56.4. From there, Big Rigs led until deep stretch, when Pastor Stephen tipped out from second and got to the wire in front by a half-length in 1:56.

Leader Of The Gang and Broad Bahn, who equaled the Canadian record of 1:55.1, won the other Wellwood elims.

"I thought (Big Rigs) raced really good," O'Donnell said. "(Pastor Stephen) got to sit on our back for probably an eighth of a mile down the lane and got a little breather there. He tipped out and got up to beat us, but we did all the work that race.

"That was only his fourth start. He's just now getting tight and fit. I think that will crank him up pretty good. I think it will be good, but those other three colts all looked good. We're going to have to get a little racing luck to beat them. Things are going to have to go our way a little bit."

The connections of Pastor Stephen, Leader Of The Gang, and Broad Bahn got to pick their starting spots for the Wellwood final. In the open draw for the remainder of the field, Big Rigs drew post five.

"I was worried we were going to end up with the eight, or nine, or 10 hole, but luckily we drew the five right next to the other three that got to pick," O'Donnell said. "That worked out good. We maybe got lucky."

Last week's race was the first time Big Rigs failed to reach the finish line in front. In his second start, in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at The Meadows, he was disqualified and placed third for interference in the stretch.

"He was running out a little down the lane," O'Donnell said. "I think Dave (driver Dave Palone) thought he had enough room on the field. Some horses are like that. It was only his second start and when they get a little tired they start to drift out. He does have a tendency to run out in the straightaways anyway."

Regardless of the outcome in Saturday's Wellwood, O'Donnell is happy with Big Rigs and believes the colt will improve as time goes on.

"He's more of a high-going horse up front; more than you'd like," O'Donnell said. "You'd rather see him reach out more than come straight up underneath himself. The faster he goes, the better he gets. If he stays good and sound, I think next year he's going to be a lot better gaited once he gets a little stronger and more mature. Horses that go up like he does don't change a whole lot, but they'll change enough where you'll see a difference as they get older. With the speed that he's shown already this year as a 2-year-old, you'll see a difference next year as a 3-year-old."

Following is the field in post position order for Saturday's C$500,000 William Wellwood Memorial at Mohawk with listed drivers and trainers:

1. Bruce The Brave, Randy Waples, Chris Beaver; 2. Pastor Stephen, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 3. Leader Of The Gang, Ron Pierce, Jimmy Takter; 4. Broad Bahn, Jack Moiseyev, Mike Vanderkemp; 5. Big Rigs, John Campbell, Kelly O'Donnell; 6. Gotabgoodtoblucky, Paul MacDonell, Mike Keeling; 7. Delcrest Julian, Anthony MacDonald, James MacDonald; 8. Big Strike, Brad Kramer, Gregg McNair; 9. Whiskey Tax, John Campbell, Thomas Durand; 10. Neal, Brian Sears, Jim Campbell.

by Ken WEINGARTNER, Harness Racing Communications

Courtesy of the US TROTTING ASSOCIATION'S Web Newsroom

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