Day At The Track

Parker dreams of Hambletonian with Breedlove

07:16 AM 19 Apr 2016 NZST
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Breedlove, harness racing
Breedlove and Mike Wilder
Chris Gooden photo

It's a long time from April to August, but it is never too soon to dream Hambletonian dreams.

Trainer Norm Parker hopes his dream can become a reality with Breedlove.

Breedlove was a slow-to-develop 2-year-old who saw his 2015 season cut short by sickness. Now at age 3, the colt has won two preliminary rounds of the Classicality Trot Series at The Meadows and is the 5-2 morning line favorite in Tuesday's $33,100 final.

Following the series, Breedlove is expected to compete in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. If all goes well, a trip to the Meadowlands for the $1 million Hambletonian Stakes on Aug. 6 could be in his future.

A long shot? Perhaps. But that's what dreams are made of.

"You can't always be the one who has the favorite going into those races," said Parker, who trains Breedlove for Neil and Pamela Kelly's Shaleni Farm LLC. Pamela is the sister of Parker's wife Paulette. "If everybody only raced when they had the favorite, you wouldn't have a race. You go and buy these horses and you have to dream big.

"The home run race is the Hambletonian. It's a long way to go to get there, but it's out there and it would be a dream. I don't know if he's that good, obviously, but he's got a lot of potential. We all have those dreams, so we took a shot. He's going to have to get faster and make quite a bit of money before we would do it, but I would love to race in it."

Breedlove is a son of stallion Cantab Hall out of the mare Siren Hall. He was purchased for $34,000 at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale. He is a half-brother to Evil Urges, who won three preliminary divisions of the New York Sire Stakes in 2011 and finished second in the final. Breedlove's dam is a half-sister to two-time Kentucky Sire Stakes champion Shaman Hall as well as overseas winner Angelo.

"We were looking for a trotter," Parker said. "We had a bunch of them picked out and found we weren't able to spend enough money on some of the other ones we wanted. We came to him. Our limit was $30,000 at the time, but we decided we had to spend a little bit more if we want a horse like this.

"We liked what he looked like and his pedigree was pretty nice. Being a Cantab; I had (trotter) Chef Lee and liked him a lot. I thought I'd like a Cantab if I could get one, which everybody does of course. I loved the way (Breedlove) trotted on the video and just took a shot."

Parker owns Cantab Hall-bred Chef Lee, who last year finished second to Jacksons Minion in a division of the Arden Downs Stakes one week before Jacksons Minion finished fifth in the Hambletonian. Chef Lee wasn't eligible to the Hambletonian, but after seeing Jacksons Minion's performance Parker was left to wonder what might have been.

"I thought, that would be such a thrill; a neat thing," Parker said.

Breedlove finished off the board in his first two races last year, but then started to show improvement. By the time the colt won in 1:57.3 in his sixth start, Parker began thinking the colt might be open-stakes worthy, even toying with the idea of entering the Breeders Crown if the horse continued to make positive strides.

But Breedlove was found to be sick following his next start, finishing sixth in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, and was unable to return to health in a timely manner so Parker decided to stop with him.

"He was a very slow comer," Parker said. "He's had some issues being around other horses, to get comfortable trotting around the other horses. It took a while for me to get the equipment on him that he needed. When he started racing he was a little green in doing things so we brought him along slowly. When he won his maiden race in (1):57.3 he did it real handily and we thought we were going in the right direction. We thought we could get him back (from his illness) but he didn't come out of it well so we just shut him down.

"We didn't get as much out of the year as we expected but I still thought I had a really nice horse to bring back this year," he added.

This year, Breedlove finished fifth in his seasonal debut --- and was found to be sick again --- but bounced back with consecutive victories in the Classicality Trot Series. He will start Tuesday's final from post No. 3 with regular driver Mike Wilder at the lines.

"He's so good gaited," Parker said. "He's got a good attitude. I just think there's a lot of upside to him. Everything is working to plan so far, using this series as a good experience and hopefully making some money and then taking a shot in the sire stakes. I know there are some nice horses there, but I think he's got the ability to trot with them."

Parker is thankful for the Classicality Trot Series and the opportunity to get more experience for Breedlove.

"It's a very good thing because you're not racing the older horses (in conditioned races) that have more experience," Parker said. "In a series like this, you can kind of educate (the horse) while racing your own kind. I think the tracks need to keep them going.

"You spend a lot of money on young horses to try to make them into solid racehorses that also are feeding our overnight races, and if you get lucky and get a stakes horse you can reap the benefits. That's where our racehorses come from; people buying young horses and developing them. Our sport needs more of them, so these are good races for that."

As for the Hambletonian, a trip to the Meadowlands on Aug. 6 could be a family affair in more ways than one. In addition to training Breedlove for his sister-in-law and her husband, Parker's sister Kathy has a well-regarded 3-year-old female trotter named in her honor.

Kathy Parker, the person, is the editor of The Horseman And Fair World magazine and a member of the Harness Racing Communicators Hall of Fame. Kathy Parker, the trotter, earned $343,797 for trainer Jimmy Takter and is eligible to the Hambletonian Oaks.

"Wouldn't that be exciting; I don't know who would be more nervous, me or Kathy," Parker said about the possibility of Breedlove and Kathy Parker both racing in Hambletonian events. "It's just pretty exciting to have a nice horse like this. It's a good family bonding thing and everyone enjoys it."

by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

 

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