Day At The Track

Splash Brother making great comeback

01:10 AM 10 Sep 2020 NZST
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Splash Brother, harness racing
Splash Brother and driver Tyler Buter at Vernon Downs
Fotowon photo

Splash Brother is making quite a comeback this year, having earned his place behind the gate on the $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions at Yonkers on Saturday. According to co-owner and trainer Ray Schnittker, the 3-year-old harness racing gelded pacer looked solid last year until a fateful day at Saratoga.

"He looked really good that day until Mark McDonald fell off and Splash Brother got loose," said Schnittker of the incident while scoring down for a leg of the New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) on July 20, 2019, at the half-mile track. The driver sustained a broken shoulder, which was later repaired by surgery, and was forced to sit out the rest of the year on the sidelines.

Schnittker said the horse was also impacted, despite performing well in NYSS events the rest of the season and finishing fourth in the Final at Batavia Downs to close out his 2-year-old year. "We believe he hurt his shoulder because something was just bothering him, but we still to this day don't really know. We just knew that he wasn't the same."

But the son of So Surreal trained back well in 2020, winning the $240,600 Empire Breeders Classic and two legs of the Sire Stakes while being steered by regular driver Tyler Buter. His last start on Sept. 1 was a return to Saratoga where he dug in for a 1:51 victory, just a fifth of a second off the track record.

"It's funny when he came back this year, it was no problem," said Schnittker. "It is like he is a 5-year-old child with that type of energy behind him."

Schnittker is trying to capture some of the same magic he had in last year's NYSS season. He picked up two Night of Champions wins at Batavia last year with Cigars And Port and USTA District 8 Horse of the Year Hickfromfrenchlick.

For now, Schnittker is concentrating on the NYSS Final, where his horse starts from the rail as the 9-5 morning line favorite in the eighth race on Saturday. Following that, Splash Brother is heading to Indiana for five races in which Schnittker is expecting good outcomes.

The New York Sire Stakes Night of Champions takes place September 12 at Yonkers Raceway. Post time is 7:12 p.m. Spectators are not permitted, but owners of horses competing may reserve their spot to attend in-person by calling the NYSS office at 518-388-0224 by Friday at 3:00p.m.

By Leah Rostohar, for New York Sire Stakes

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