National Debt has only four lifetime starts, winning all four easily in Alberta Canada. On Saturday the impressive colt will step up in class and face the best early season three-year-old harness racing colts at the Meadowlands in the William Buddy Gilmour Series.
In those four lifetime starts, National Debt owns two track records. National Debt became the fastest two-year-old pacer in Alberta Downs history in just his second start, defeating a field of older horses in 1:53.3. In his fourth lifetime start National Debt equaled the track record for two-year-old colts at Northlands Park, rolling to victory in 1:55.
Kelly Hoerdt trained and drove the colt in all of his four starts. Kelly shares ownership of the talented son of Allamerican Native-Our Inheritance with Blair & Erna Corbeil of Beaumont, Alberta. The colt was a $17,000 purchase at last year's Harrisburg Yearling Sale. Kelly was named Co-Trainer of the Year at the recently completed Alberta Standardbred Horse Association Awards. Hoerdt, 47, scored 82 training wins during the 2013 racing season and earned $623,245 in purses, $438,100 at Alberta Downs to make him the season's leader. Also at the awards, National Debt was named Two-Year-Old Colt of the Year.
The William Buddy Gilmour Series begins next Saturday at the Meadowlands.The first leg goes for $17,500. The second leg on March 1st goes for $20,000, and the final on March 8th for $75,000. The series is for non-winners of 2 pari-mutuel races or $30,000 lifetime.
"He is a fantastic horse," Hoerdt said. "He is the best horse I ever had. I don't know how he is going to be at the Meadowlands. He has had a couple of good qualifiers.
"He was awarded the two-year-old of the year last night," Hoerdt added. "He went 1:53 in just his second lifetime start. We have a shortage of horses in Alberta. They mix the classes. He won his maiden in 1:57. He then went in non-winners of two thru four. It is like jumping up three classes. He did not race against two-year-olds in that race, they were all aged horses. The horse he sailed by in twenty six went on to win the Western Canada Pacing Derby. In all his starts he had a plenty of horse left at the end. This is why he is at the Meadowlands.
"I haven't seen the two qualifiers but I got feedback from Tim Tetrick," Hoerdt explained. "Tim said the horse has tons of talent, but is very green. Every time he took the horse off the helmet he couldn't wait to get by that horse. That's the sign of a great horse. He goes by them, but doesn't want to open up on them. He liked him. Another good thing is that Tim had his choice to drive two other horses in that race and picked us. I am hoping Tim drives him in the Gilmour.
"We have had a problem getting him ready for the series," Hoerdt said. "We gave him time off after his fourth start. I should have trained him down to two minutes in Alberta. With the bad weather we were only able to train him down to 2:03 before I sent him to Ronnie Coyne. The plan was to have one start in him, but Ronnie was getting dumped on with the snow. The Gilmour is just a launching pad. They are not going to get the guts ripped right out of him in his first start. Last year the divisions went in 1:52 and 1:53. He is coming off the qualifier in 1:56. The time doesn't mean as much as the way he did it. I know that sitting behind him, 1:51 or 1:52 is not out of his reach. He may be a little short in his first race. Everybody else is going to be in same boat with the bad weather and cancellations"
There are fifty one horses eligible for the William Buddy Gilmour. The notables include Capital Account, Dinner At The Met, Pierce, and Fire In The Belly among others. Capital Account trained by Jimmy Takter won in 1:52.4 by five lengths on February 8th at the Meadowlands. Dinner At The Met trained by Erv Miller won in 154.3 on February 15th at the Meadowlands. Pierce, although he broke stride the other night at the Meadowlands, has a lifetime mark of 1:50.1 at the Red Mile in a qualifying race. Fire In the Belly, trained by Jim King Jr., won easily at Dover Downs in 1:54.2 on February 16th.
"We have made a lot of stake payments for him." Hoerdt said. "We jumped in with both feet. He's paid up for the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Breeders Crown, Cane Pace and Messenger. He is out there for sale. We don't have a for sale sign on him. Those payments have to be made if you plan to get any money for the horse.
"I sent the horse to Ron Coyne in New Jersey." Hoerdt added. "My partner Blair Corbeil has a horse with Ron already. I met Ron a couple of years ago at Harrisburg. He has a smaller operation with his wife. All the horses get individual attention, as opposed to a big barn. We are on the same page as far as training the horse."
"We are waiting to see if he can do it against the competition at the Meadowlands," Coyne stated. "I am pretty confident he can go in 1:51. Can he do it this week, probably not. It would have been nice if we had a start along with the two qualifiers. We have been fighting the weather for a couple of months now. They were fighting the weather up in Alberta when he first started training. We got the two qualifiers in. I was happy with both qualifiers. The first qualifier he was in need of a soft journey. We covered him up and let him sprint the last hundred yards. The other day we raced him a little bit more. We were hoping for a sharper qualifier, around 1:55. The pace up front did not dictate that. He finished it off coming home in twenty seven and change.
"Timmy(Tetrick) liked him quite a bit," Coyne said. "He said he has got some talent. Everybody is down on the fence. Can he make the next jump? I expect Tim will drive the horse on Saturday. I don't see any better horses that he could drive. I am hoping he will stick with him.
“We wanted to stay away from any 1/2 mile tracks early," Coyne explained. "They have put him in the Bobby Weiss at Pocono next. That will stretch his legs a little more. Hopefully that will set him up for the rest of the season’s stakes races."
If all goes well, starting with Saturday's Buddy Gilmour Series, Kelly Hoerdt and his team will have a successful three-year-old stake season with National Debt. They will have defied the odds of racing a horse from Alberta, Canada and being successful in the highly competitive racing of the big tracks in the Northeast.
By Brian McEvoy, for Harnesslink.com