Day At The Track

Off the pace makes race - Warrawee Needy

08:07 PM 12 Jul 2013 NZST
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Warrawee Needy
Warrawee Needy
Photo by Mark Hall/USTA

It may be difficult to teach old dogs new tricks, but the father-and-son team of harness racing trainer Carl Jamieson and driver Jody Jamieson seem to have been effective teaching an older horse a new way to race.

Four-year-old male pacer Warrawee Needy has been competing from off the pace in his most recent races, with the last two starts producing a 1:48.3 win in the Gold Cup Invitational at Mohawk Racetrack on June 15 and a 1:46.4 victory in his elimination for Saturday’s $471,800 William R. Haughton Memorial at the Meadowlands.

His time of 1:46.4 in last weekend’s Haughton elim equaled the fastest race mile in harness racing history. Holborn Hanover set the record in 2006 and Somebeachsomewhere tied it in 2008. Cambest holds the record for the fastest mile in history with a 1:46.1 clocking in a time trial in 1993.

Warrawee Needy was in fifth place at the halfway point in his Haughton elim, but overcame Golden Receiver – who led the field to the half in :52.3 – by 1-1/4 lengths for the win. In the Gold Cup, Warrawee Needy was seventh at the half, but stormed home in :25.4 to beat Camaes Fellow by three-quarters of a length.

In his last four starts, Warrawee Needy has been fifth, seventh, tenth and tenth at the half-mile point. Prior to that, he was fifth or worse at the half only four times in 36 races – and three of those occasions occurred when he was a 2-year-old.

“Everyone knows I like to race aggressively, but with a horse like him – I talked to my dad about it – we had to find a different way to race him,” Jody Jamieson said. “To prove his merit, we had to race him a little bit different. That was to get him on a helmet and get him to come off that helmet.

“It was just an amazing feeling. We did the right thing with him and had some patience and the horse responded.”

Warrawee Needy, who has won 19 of 40 lifetime starts and earned $1.02 million, is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the Haughton, where he will start from post two. Sweet Lou, who won the other elim in 1:48.4 by a neck over Pet Rock, is the 3-1 second choice. Golden Receiver, who won last year’s Haughton, is 7-2.

“I’m just hoping for a quality trip,” Jamieson said. “I’m sure they’re going to be racing. I can’t get over the trip Golden Receiver went (in the elimination); he was just amazing. He’s just a classy warrior. Sweet Lou was great; Foiled Again was right there as usual.

“It’s just an amazing crop of horses. I’m not going to set a plan, I’m just going to react and see what happens. Hopefully I’ll react properly and get our picture taken.”

Warrawee Needy’s change in racing style coincided with drawing several outside post positions. Mark MacDonald drove Warrawee Needy in the first attempt from off the pace, in the TVG Free For All Championship Series event June 1 at the Meadowlands. Starting from post nine, the horse finished eighth.

A week later, Warrawee Needy started from post eight in the Roll With Joe at Tioga Downs and finished sixth. But Jamieson was encouraged by the horse’s three-wide move and strong finish as he made up more than four lengths in the stretch.

Next was the Gold Cup win, where Warrawee Needy won from post nine at Mohawk.

“Mark raced him in the TVG Free For All and (Warrawee Needy) just wasn’t as good, but he needed to learn how to do it,” Jamieson said. “He was great at Tioga, but didn’t get rewarded for it. We go back to Mohawk and when the half flashed up (:55) I really thought I was in trouble.

“But he really impressed me. I love the horse.”

Jamieson was even more impressed after his record-equaling 1:46.4 win last weekend.

“He’s a bit difficult to drive in certain situations, but (in the elimination) with the fast fractions he was really two fingers,” Jamieson said. “When he’s like that, he just has so much more energy in the stretch. He showed it.

“The world (race) record; it’s really unbelievable. I was just a kid from Canada who grew up wishing to be a harness driver and to be part of a great horse like this, and the great horses my name has been attached to, has been amazing.”

Following is the field for the William R. Haughton Memorial with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Hugadragon, Jim Morrill Jr., Ron Burke; 2. Warrawee Needy, Jody Jamieson, Carl Jamieson; 3. Sweet Lou, Yannick Gingras, Burke; 4. Razzle Dazzle, John Campbell, Mark Silva; 5. Golden Receiver, Corey Callahan, Mark Harder; 6. Foiled Again, Ron Pierce, Burke; 7. Bolt The Duer, Mark MacDonald, Peter Foley; 8. Aracache Hanover, George Brennan, Gregg McNair; 9. Pet Rock, David Miller, Virgil Morgan Jr.; 10. Up The Credit, Tim Tetrick, C. Jamieson.

SMILIN ELI HOPES TO SPREAD JOY IN DANCER MEMORIAL

Deshawn Minor expects Smilin Eli to put grins on his connection’s faces Saturday night.

The 3-year-old colt trotter will look to rebound from his first career loss – a fifth-place finish in the Beal Memorial on June 29 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs – when he faces 11 rivals in the $294,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

Smilin Eli started the Beal final from post nine, but got the lead with a :57.1 opening half-mile (he went :55.1 to get the lead a week earlier in his Beal elim) and appeared poised to pick up his fifth win in as many starts. However, he trotted his final quarter in :29.3, which was slower than all but one of the other horses in the race.

“I was wondering how many lengths he was going to win by when he got to the half,” said Minor, who trains Smilin Eli for breeder/owner Nick Cimino. “It turns out he had a little throat sickness and wasn’t able to breathe well enough to get to the wire. Up to that point, he was doing his usual wonderful job.

“It goes like that sometimes in racing. You just have to get ready for the next episode. And I think he’s ready for it tomorrow night.”

Smilin Eli, who will start from post seven in the 12-horse field, is the 3-1 morning line favorite in the Dancer, which is one of the final stakes races for 3-year-old trotters as they prepare for the Aug. 3 Hambletonian at the Meadowlands. Corky, who won the Beal by a length over Picture This in 1:54.3 over a sloppy track, is the 7-2 second choice despite drawing post 10.

Minor decided against racing Smilin Eli as a 2-year-old to give the colt a chance to mature into his large body. The move paid off as Smilin Eli won his first four starts this year, including the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship, by no less than one length.

A son of Muscles Yankee out of the stakes-winning mare Gerri’s Joy, Smilin Eli is named after one of Cimino’s grandchildren. So Smilin Eli could lead to a smiling Eli in the winner’s circle if all goes well.

“I think we’re in for a nice little ride tomorrow,” Minor said. “He worked very strong for me this week and did everything right. I think the old Eli is going to show up.”

Following is the Stanley Dancer Memorial field with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Spider Blue Chip, Ron Pierce, Chuck Sylvester; 2. Six Gun Hall, John Campbell, Robert Shahan; 3. Dewycolorintheline, Ray Schnittker, Schnittker; 4. Fico, Jim Morrill Jr., Staffan Lind; 5. Dreams Of Thunder, Corey Callahan, Jonas Czernyson; 6. Banco Solo, George Brennan, Kenneth Oscarsson; 7. Smilin Eli, Tim Tetrick, Deshawn Minor; 8. Your So Vain, Andy Miller, Julie Miller; 9. Royalty For Life, Brian Sears, George Ducharme; 10. Corky, David Miller, Jimmy Takter; 11. Celebrity Maserati, Tom Jackson, Susanne Strandqvist; 12. Raven Victory, Yannick Gingras, Linda Toscano.

Saturday’s card also features the $265,500 Delvin Miller Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters (not to mention the Meadowlands Pace, William R. Haughton Memorial and New Jersey Sire Stakes finals for 2-year-old trotters and pacers). Bee A Magician, unbeaten in six races this year, is the 3-2 morning line favorite. Her victories include the Elegantimage Stakes in June at Mohawk Ractrack. She has won 16 of 19 lifetime starts and $1.13 million.

Following is the Delvin Miller Memorial field with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Bee A Magician, Brian Sears, Nifty Norman; 2. Time To Kill, Ron Pierce, Ross Croghan; 3. Ma Chere Hall, Corey Callahan, Jonas Czernyson; 4. Fashion Athena, John Campbell, Jim Campbell; 5. Frau Blucher, Jim Morrill Jr., Chris Oakes; 6. Handover Belle, Mike Lachance, Tony Alagna; 7. To Dream On, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 8. Mistery Woman, David Miller, Czernyson; 9. Cupcake, Jody Jamieson, Don Swick; 10. Tonato Of Love, Ray Schnittker, Schnittker; 11. Miss Steele, Andy Miller, Julie Miller.

by Ken WEINGARTNER/Harness Racing Communications/USTA

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