Day At The Track

Fast trotters gather for Graduate Series

04:02 AM 17 May 2019 NZST
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Crystal Fashion,Harness racing
Crystal Fashion
Mark Hall USTA photo

Jim Campbell figures when you bring together many of the best 4-year-old trotters in North America, there is no such thing as an easy spot.

So, although his returning millionaire Crystal Fashion will avoid two 2018 Dan Patch Award winners (Atlanta and Six Pack) and a 2017 Breeders Crown champion (Fiftydallarbill) in Saturday's (May 18) opening round of the Graduate harness racings series at The Meadowlands, Campbell is not expecting a stroll in the park. Crystal Fashion competes in the second of two $50,000 divisions, starting from post one with regular driver Tim Tetrick.

"On paper maybe the other one does look a little tougher, but when you go race them, they're all going to go fast and they're all going to be tough," Campbell said. "So, I don't put a lot of thought into that. Every time I think there is a division that looks easier on paper they always go more.

"It's a good group of 4-year-olds out there. The only thing I worry about is my own horse. We're going to send him out there to race and whatever happens, it happens. Just being at the Meadowlands, you know they're going to be going fast no matter what."

Generating speed is not an issue for this group. Returning Trotter of the Year Atlanta, with her 1:50.4 season-opening win in the Miami Valley Distaff on May 6, is the year's fastest trotter while Fiftydallarbill's 1:51.3 time in winning a conditioned race last weekend at the Meadowlands is second best.

And last year, Six Pack became the sport's fastest-ever 3-year-old with a 1:49.1 win in the Kentucky Futurity in addition to trotting 1:50 earlier in the campaign while Crystal Fashion tied for the sixth-fastest mile ever by a 3-year-old (1:50.1).

Not to be forgotten, Atlanta won the Hambletonian in 1:50.4 and had a season-best mark of 1:50.3, which ranks seventh among all female 3-year-old trotters in history, and multiple-stakes-winner Phaetosive - who is in Saturday's second Graduate division with Crystal Fashion - was not far off with a 1:51 mark.

Crystal Fashion, who won nine of 17 races last year including the Canadian Trotting Classic and Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, made his first start of 2019 on May 4 in the Great Northeast Open Series for trotters at Harrah's Philadelphia, where he finished fourth.

"He's the type of horse that needs to get racing to get himself tight," Campbell said. "He's going to need some more racing to get himself into top shape, but I was very happy with his first race.

"He hasn't really changed (from last year). He's got the same personality and everything like that. He maybe filled out a little more, but for both a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old he was a good-sized colt. Maybe he grew a little bit, but for the most part he's pretty much the same."

Phaetosive, who won last year's Elegantimage Stakes, will be making her seasonal debut, as is New York Sire Stakes final runner-up The Veteran. Custom Cantab, an Indiana Sire Stakes champion mare who won 13 of 17 races last season including the Matron, heads to the Graduate's second division off a third-place finish in the Miami Valley Distaff.

In the first division, Six Pack and Eurobond are the two trotters making their seasonal debuts. Six Pack won 11 of 15 races last year including the Kentucky Futurity, Yonkers Trot, and Matron. He received the Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old male trotter.


Six Pack                              Mark Hall photo

"He trained back good," trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt said. "He qualified two times. He was maybe a little lazy the last qualifier, but he had an open bridle. I think he is sharp now. He feels much better when we train after the second qualifier. I hope he can do a good race.

"We're going to race him in the Graduate and then the Hambletonian Maturity. After that he can go in the open. He feels strong. He's a big horse. He is so big I think he can be stronger when he is older. We'll see after a couple of races what he can do."

In addition to Atlanta, there will be a second Hambletonian winner competing on Saturday's card at the Meadowlands as 2015 champion Pinkman looks to pick up his second win in the Mr Muscleman Series for older trotters. A total of four Hambletonian winners will be in action this year: Atlanta, Pinkman, Perfect Spirit (in Europe) and Marion Marauder.

The Meadowlands also hosts the second round of the Rainbow Blue Series for older female pacers on Saturday. The six-horse field includes Dan Patch Award winners Kissin In The Sand (2018) and Youaremycandygirl (2017) as well as millionaire Caviart Ally.

Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT). For complete entries, click here.

 

Ken Weingartner

Media Relations Manager

U.S. Trotting Association

www.ustrotting.com

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