Day At The Track

Was Polisseni's 'pep talk' the winning factor

06:29 PM 26 Jun 2011 NZST
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Wanda Polisseni Wanda Polisseni, right, gives Dejarmbro
Wanda Polisseni - Polisseni embraces winning driver Dave Palone
USTA/Ken Weingartner Photo
Wanda Polisseni, right, gives Dejarmbro - some words of wisdom prior to his victory in the Beal
USTA/Ken Weingartner Photo

Harness racing owner Wanda Polisseni is something of a motivational speaker when it comes to her horses. Whatever little pep talk she gave Dejarmbro prior to Saturday's $500,000 Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs had a winning effect.

Polisseni, who races under the name Purple Haze Stables, saw Dejarmbro and driver Dave Palone capture the inaugural Beal by 2-3/4 lengths over Pastor Stephen, in 1:52.2. The time equaled the world record for 3-year-old trotters on a five-eighths-mile track. The mark was established last year in the Breeders Crown, also at Pocono Downs, by Break The Bank K.

"I can't even express what this means," Polisseni said with a smile. "I've been shaking for a week. (Saturday) I could barely walk to get to the winner's circle. It's amazing."

Prior to the race, Polisseni spent time talking to her two Beal entries -- Dejarmbro and I'm The Answer -- in the paddock. It is something she does often.

I'm The Answer and Dejarmbro, both trained by Trond Smedshammer, won their respective Beal elimination races on June 18. Both won in 1:52.4, and I'm The Answer's victory set the world record for a 3-year-old gelding trotter over the five-eighths oval. I'm The Answer went off-stride in the Beal Final.

"Dejarmbro is usually a little antsy in the paddock," Polisseni said. "(Saturday) he wasn't too bad. I usually talk to him real soft and slow. I tell him he's going to do a good job -- just do whatever comes naturally. I do the same with I'm The Answer. Except I sometimes wonder if he knows it's race time because all he wants to do is snuggle. They're two different horses.

"They hear," she added. "You can see it in their eyes and ears. I love my babies so much. For them to snicker when they hear my voice, or come right out of their stall looking for me, that's rewarding to me."

Dejarmbo was the favorite in last year's Breeders Crown, but went off-stride and was not a factor. The result was disappointing for Polisseni, but her only concern was that Dejarmbo was okay.

"It's wasn't a fun experience, but I don't have to win to have a great experience," she said. "It's really nice and exciting to win, yes, but if they do well and come back happy and healthy, that's a lot more important to me."

Dejarmbro, who has won four of five races this year and 12 of 16 in his career while earning $576,580, and I'm The Answer are not eligible to the Hambletonian.

"Everybody keeps reminding us of that," Polisseni said. "It just didn't happen. We have to accept it and we have to move on. There are lots of other races, and we move on. It will be a lesson for us for the next ones."

Polisseni, of Fairport, N.Y., became an owner about six years ago, but has long enjoyed harness racing and horses. As a child growing up in Potter, N.Y., her family had a friend who raced at Batavia Downs, and boarded horses at their farm during the off season.

"I've only been in (harness racing) for a few years, and to have babies like this, I just feel really blessed," Polisseni said. "I love all my babies so much, that's the thing. I love them all."

by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association

Courtesy of the US Trotting Association's Web Newsroom

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