CAMPBELLVILLE, August 1 - All eyes in harness racing will be on the Meadowlands this Saturday for the Hambletonian and local standout Harper Blue Chip will be one of eleven trotters vying for harness racing's highest profile trotting title.
Trained by local conditioner , Harper Blue Chip will start from post position nine with driver in the $1,006,125 Hambletonaian, which is carded as Race 13 on Saturday afternoon.
Harper Blue Chip races for owners Landmark 6 Racing Stable of Kingston, David McDonald of Cornwall, David Reid of Glenburnie and George Judson of Athens, Ontario.
The son of - Winning Jonlin is coming off a 3 ¾ length victory in the Canadian Breeders Championship at Mohawk on July 19.
In six starts this season, Harper Blue Chip has visited the winner's circle twice and has only missed the board once when he finished fourth to the Father Patrick in the $500,000 Beal Memorial at Pocono Downs on June 28.
Just like the Beal Memorial, Harper Blue Chip and the rest of the field will be gunning for Father Patrick, who enters the Hambletonian on a 15 race win streak.
Father Patrick is just one of three starters (Nuncio and Trixton) sent out by trainer . Takter's trio are the top three choices on the morning line.
Harper Blue Chip is the fourth choice in the early odds of 12-1.
Steacy admits that it will be a tough task defeating Takter's trio, but that his horse is on top of his game.
"We've got our work cut out for us," said Steacy. "I was quite disappointed drawing the nine, it kind of made things a lot more difficult, but our horse is going into the race really good and healthy, so I expect a good effort from him as long as we have some race luck."
Since the fourth place effort in the Beal, Harper Blue Chip has dominated locally and Steacy believes Harper Blue Chip is a better horse than the last time he faced the continent's very best.
"I think with the trio of 's it's a big step up, but he's raced against these horses before, never been able to beat them, but he's gone against them and he's been respectable," said Steacy. "I think my horse is better than the last time he raced against these horses and I think he's improved with every start and again a lot of racing luck and you never what might happen."
Steacy has an idea of the trip he would like for his charge, but will leave the strategy up to defending and two-time Hambletonian winning driver .
"It's going to be up to , but I'm hoping he will try to charge off the gate...obviously you want to be as close to Father Patrick or Trixton or one of those horses that you can be."
Defeating Takter's trio will be a tough task for the trainee, but Steacy knows what it takes to win a million dollar race with a three-year-old trotter.
In 2006, Steacy captured the million dollar Canadian Trotting Classic with , the sire of Harper Blue Chip, overcoming favourites and Trotting Triple Crown winner .
On Saturday afternoon, Steacy will be looking to recreate that million dollar magic with Harper Blue Chip.
No horse has been hotter on the WEG circuit this season than State Treasurer and the trainee will take his talents south to the Meadowlands to battle with the sport's top free-for-all pacers on Saturday.
State Treasurer will start from post two with driver in a field of nine for the $257,700 US Pacing Championship.
The five-year-old son of - Ideal Tresurer has won seven times in ten starts this season, including a victory last Saturday night in the Preferred at Mohawk in 1:48.3.
State Treasurer has started in the WEG Preferred seven times this season and is currently riding a six race win streak in the circuit's top class. All six of those wins have been sub-1:50 miles.
His biggest victory of the season was on May 30 in the $150,000 Molson Pace at Western Fair.
State Treasurer's rivals on Saturday include Sweet Lou, who is currently on a seven race win streak, and Captaintreacherous, the 2013 Pepsi North America Cup winner.
Two starts back, State Treasurer tackled this group in the $463,000 William Haughton Memorial at the Meadowlands and finished fourth, while only beaten 2 Â½ lengths.
This Saturday, State Treasurer will need to bring his top game and the speed he has been putting on display.
by Mark McKelvie, for WEG