Brad Grant saw winning streaks come to an end last week for Apprentice Hanover and Wake Up Peter, but the harness racing owner is hoping his 4-year-old pacers will return to posting victories Saturday night.
Wake Up Peter competes in the $83,000 Clyde Hirt Series final at Meadowlands Racetrack while Apprentice Hanover races in the second round of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series at Yonkers. Also in action for Grant in the Levy is Word Power.
Last week, Wake Up Peter saw his four-race win streak halted by a ninth-place finish in his second leg of the Hirt Series. Wake Up Peter, driven byfor trainer , lost a shoe and went off stride from the second-over position on the final turn.
"We were disappointed with his race last week, but you throw it out," Grant said. "Hopefully he'll have a good week."
Wake Up Peter has won four of five starts this year and earned $34,250. He won his first-round division of the Hirt Series from post nine in 1:51.3 before losing from post one last week. He drew post 10 for the final.
"He drew the inside and didn't have any luck, and the week before he won out of the (nine) hole, so maybe it's a sign," Grant said, laughing.
Avatartist, who won both his preliminary divisions of the series, drew post two for the final for trainerand driver . O'Sullivan's Ontario Success, who also won a prelim, got post seven with driver while Teresa's Beach, who won his second round of the Hirt, got post eight for trainer Johnny Waite and driver .
At Yonkers on Saturday, Apprentice Hanover will race in the third of four $50,000 second-round Levy divisions. Apprentice Hanover saw a nine-race win streak halted last week by a dead-heat second-place finish behind Foiled Again.
"We caught a nine-race win streak, and then you run into the wall," Grant said, with the "wall" being 10-year-old Foiled Again, who is the richest harness racing horse in North American history and the three-time defending Dan Patch Award winner for best older male pacer.
Apprentice Hanover, driven regularly by, won just two of his first 15 starts last year, but turned the corner for trainer after being treated for an ulcer.
"He had some health issues and he seems to be over them and responded well," Grant said. "Ben has worked hard at it; his people have worked hard at it. Jody brought him back carefully and drove him carefully. As much as it's good for me as an owner, it's nice to see their hard work rewarded. He's responded and hopefully he'll keep going."
Apprentice Hanover will start from post one in his Levy division. His race also includes first-round winners Easy Again and Mach It So.
Word Power, trained by Remmen and driven by Jamieson, will start from post four in his second round of the series. His split also includes first-round winner Bettor's Edge. Word Power finished fourth last week, beaten by three lengths by Mach It So, in his first start of the season.
"I thought he could have done better the other night, but I understand because it was his first start out," Grant said. "Hindsight is a great thing; maybe if we had a race under his belt Jody would have gotten him into the race a little bit more. I thought we caught one of the lighter divisions that night and maybe it would have been a chance to take advantage of it, but it didn't work out that way.
"I think the colt is competitive, but I don't think he matches up against some of the older veterans yet."
Apprentice Hanover and Word Power have ample stakes schedules following the Levy Series while Wake Up Peter has the Whata Baron Series at the Meadowlands.
"We're just going to race him around and see how it goes," Grant said about Wake Up Peter. "I don't think he's at the level of Apprentice or Word Power or the rest of the horses. He's a horse that this year we didn't plan on staking a lot. He's got one more series after this at the Meadowlands and really that's it for him."
Wake Up Peter was winless in 19 races last year, but earned $307,091 while racing out of the stable of trainer. Grant bought the horse in January.
"I'd raced against him for the last two years and I always liked him," Grant said. "He comes out of a great barn and came to us in great shape.
"He made a lot of money chasing horses, but he ain't going to make that kind of money chasing them anymore. He's got to get his confidence. Larry and Ray (Remmen) both feel this year we'll pick our spots and race him around and braven him up. Hopefully he'll get stronger and we'll see what next year brings."
As for Apprentice Hanover, who has won 16 of 35 lifetime races and $597,105, and Word Power, who has won seven of 19 and banked $382,584, time will tell.
"It's all going to depend how they perform as to how far we'll go with them," Grant said. "We're going to give them every opportunity, that's for sure. It's a tough transition year for a 4-year-old; the older horses are lasting longer, racing longer, racing better.
"You've got The Captain (Captaintreacherous) coming back, you've got Vegas Vacation coming back, Sunshine Beach coming back, so there's a good crop of 4-year-olds out there plus the older horses that you've got to race against. It's going to be great racing for the fans.
"This is a learning year for us. We're going to try to pick our spots and hopefully take home some of the spoils."
by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications