Day At The Track

Explosive Nitro Seelster hopes to repeat

03:23 AM 21 Jun 2019 NZST
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Nitro Seelster, harness racing
Nitro Seelster winning June 15 at The Meadows
Chris Gooden Photo

WASHINGTON, PA, June 20, 2019 -- When Nitro Seelster pulled off a 13-1 upset last week against The Meadows' elite pacers, it may have been his most powerful harness racing performance since arriving here in 2014. His reward? He gets to face an even tougher bunch Saturday to prove his win was no fluke -- and he'll have to do it from post 8.

That feature, a $20,000 Open Handicap, goes as race 8, with Tony Hall driving Nitro Seelster for trainer Sarah Andrews and owners Sandbur Farms and Valarie Sutton. First post is 1:05 PM.

A 9-year-old Camluck-No Strikes Against gelding, Nitro Seelster seemed destined for greatness when he brought $150,000 at the Forest City Yearling Sale. He was unraced at 2 and 3, however, and finally began to show his talent at 4 under the tutelage of the late trainer Doug Hamilton. He earned $118,583 that year -- his lifetime bankroll is $324,763 -- and took his 1:49.4 mark at Pocono.

He's won 26 races, perhaps none more impressive than his victory last week. Hall moved him behind the first-over cover of Real Peace, only to have Real Peace duck back to an unexpected opening along the cones. That left Nitro Seelster uncovered -- and trying to chase down the formidable Windsong Leo on the lead. He did just that, scoring in 1:50, just a tick off his career best.

Andrews says losing his cover that day may have been a blessing.

"That was the best-case scenario," she says. "When you pull him, he needs a couple steps to get his feet back straight, so you have to wait a little bit. But when he has a straight shot, he knows what he's supposed to do, and he will try to win.

"He's versatile, so you can do pretty much you want with him. He's probably better now than he's been the entire time I've had him."

On Saturday, 'Nitro' will have to be explosive, so to speak, to repeat. Not only are Windsong Leo and Real Peace back, but he'll also have to deal with Southwind Amazon (post 7, Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.), who was harness racing's "winningest" horse last year with 22 victories, and Carolina Beach (post 6, Aaron Merriman), a Saratoga invader making his first start in the powerful stable of Renee and Bill Bercury. Carolina Beach is the 5-2 morning line favorite.

Andrews also will be represented in the feature by Vague Traces (post 1, Brady Brown) but isn't as high on his chances.

"He's coming back from a break and probably will need a couple races to get back to himself," she says.

Saturday's card also features a $1,257.68 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5.

By Evan Pattak for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association

 
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