Day At The Track

Custom Cantab looks to pay off

03:30 AM 19 Oct 2019 NZDT
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Custom Cantab, harness racing Chris Beaver, harness racing
Custom Cantab
Fred Brown photo
Chris Beaver

Trenton, NJ --- It is costing Custom Cantab's connections $31,250 to supplement her to the Breeders Crown Mare Trot at Woodbine Mohawk Park. But the way harness racing trainer and part-owner Chris Beaver looks at things, it's almost like spending found money.

"She was a $6,000 yearling, so with (paying) the supplement we're still way ahead," Beaver said with a laugh.

They sure are.

The 4-year-old mare has won 18 of 44 career starts with 11 seconds and 10 thirds, good for $1 million in earnings. She has won three of 15 races and $266,647 this year while making the jump from racing primarily on the Indiana Sire Stakes circuit to the Grand Circuit.

She has shown enough to give her owners confidence, winning the Joie De Vie Stakes, taking second in the Harry Harvey Trot in a field with male competition, and finishing third on six occasions.

"It had been in my head for a while through the season," Beaver said of the Breeders Crown. "The payments were early in the year and she'd never been eligible before and it just kind of wasn't on our radar. She was staked to do a lot of other stuff. But she's made the TVG final (in November) and we wanted her to race in between there. She's split up amongst partners, so nobody had to bear the burden of it themselves, and she's coming off a real good race (in the Harvey)."

And it was that race that made the final decision for owners Beaver, Donald Robinson and Robert Hechkoff's R.B.H. Ventures somewhat easier.

"We talked about it a little bit before her last race at Yonkers, and the partners were all on board," Beaver said. "She was parked the entire mile there. It was still closing for second, and she picked up a good amount of money there. I think over the course of that day, after that race, we talked a little bit, and there seemed to be no objection about supplementing her."

Custom Cantab races in the first of two $25,000 Breeders Crown eliminations Saturday at Mohawk. She is 4-1 on the morning line, starting from post three with driver David Miller in a seven-horse field. Plunge Blue Chip is the 8-5 favorite. World record-holder Manchego is the 4-5 favorite in the second elimination. Manchego is a past Breeders Crown champion and the Mare Trot group also includes two-time Crown winners Hannelore Hanover (first elim) and Emoticon Hanover (second elim).

The top five finishers from each elimination advance to the $325,000 final Oct. 26 at Mohawk.

"We have confidence she can be top three in the final or we wouldn't have made the payment," Beaver said. "I feel like she's got a legit shot to win the elimination. In the final, there's a couple that have been better than her at times, but she's also been better. We beat Manchego a few times earlier in the season. I've got confidence in her. Even some weeks when I haven't thought she's trained that good she comes out and races unbelievable for us."

It has been an interesting year for Custom Cantab. Beaver held her out of some races because he was unsure how she would make the transition to open competition after competing mainly in the Indiana Sire Stakes. But her victory in last year's Matron gave him a good feeling to take some shots.

"I guess I've been pleasantly surprised how good she's been this year since she went to Meadowlands and started racing there and gone on through the rest of the season," Beaver said. "When they get stretched out there aren't many much better than her. So, I think she's legit. Whether it's going to pay off we'll have to wait and see. She's been in the ballpark all year."

Racing begins at 7:10 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Mohawk. The card also features Breeders Crown eliminations for 3-year-old male and female trotters and pacers. Eliminations were unnecessary for the Open Trot, Open Pace and Mare Pace. For complete entries, click here.

Breeders Crown eliminations for 2-year-olds are tonight, with a 7:50 p.m. post time. For entries, click here.

By Rich Fisher, for the Breeders Crown

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