He certainly has not been blessed with the luck of the draw, but Wishing Stone has not allowed circumstances to impede his harness racing progress. "I think his best race was on Hambletonian day," said his owner and conditioner, Dewayne Minor. "That was a huge mile he put in (to finish third behind Muscle Massive and Lucky Chucky).
"Post position-wise, he really hasn't drawn all that well this year, so on the driver's part they try to protect themselves and the horse," he continued.
"They try not to get him too strung out and in the Breeders Crown, we had no choice but to go for the lead from the nine hole. When I saw him stepping out and the driver (George Brennan) took him back, I thought, ‘oh, no,' but he made a good choice that day by ducking him in and letting those two (ive and ) battle it out. He raced well that day."
All the son ofand Meadowbranch Magic has done is race well since his hooves hit the track. As a freshman the pint-sized colt, who is owned by Minor's Cowboyland Aalborg of Highland Park, Michigan, earned more than $200,000 and finished fourth in the Breeders Crown final for his gait and gender.
It took eight starts to get his picture taken this year, but Wishing Stone, a full brother to Make It Happen 3,1:54.4s ($947,829), who also finished third in the 2008 Hambletonian behindand , finally hit the wire in front August 28 at Balmoral Park in the $150,000 American-National.
The colt had been knocking on the door with thirds in Hambletonian Final and elimination, as well as a fifth place finish in the Stanley Dancer. Since Wishing Stone's triumph in the American-National, he has started on six more occasions and captured the $501,000 Kentucky Futurity in straight heats, finished second in the Breeders Crown in Break The Bank K's world record mile and was second toin a $121,500 Bluegrass Series division at The Red Mile on Oct. 23.
Wishing Stone will head to the track once more in this Sunday's (Nov. 14) $237,213 Matron Stakes for 3-year-old colt trotters. He won his elimination for the Matron at Dover Downs this past Sunday and after this contest, he will take a winter vacation.
"I feel really good about it (the Matron Final)," said Minor, who is a Michigan native and is enjoying a career year. "He's happy and he's feeling good and when he's like that he's usually on his game."
Minor never let the colt's lack of girth impact his faith in him.
"I was never worried about how small he was, because of his gait," he explained. "He has the nice, easy gait of a big horse and he has a great attitude. He loves to race. I've never seen him not be involved in any race he has been in. He's a fighter and he likes to be in control of anything at some point.
"Some horses drive from their rear end or front, but he drives from all fours," Minor continued. "He uses his whole body well and I think that is a big asset."
Although his legs aren't as long as some of his colleagues, Wishing Stone seems to prefer a mile track.
"For a small horse, he does seem to enjoy a mile track," Minor said. "He is actually really good on one, but he can cut a mile first up or come from the outside anywhere. He's always been a strong horse that way."
At this point in time, his connections are unsure of just exactly what task Wishing Stone will be performing once his rest and relaxation has ended.
"Right now his status is kind of up in the air," Minor said. "We are thinking about racing him next year, but there has been some interest in syndicating him for stallion purposes. So after the Matron we will see what unfolds."
Here is the field in post position order for Sunday's $237,213 Matron Stakes final, with listed drivers and trainers:
1. Blacktuxwhitesocks, John Campbell, Jessica Okusko; 2. Take My Picture, Andy Miller, Nikolas Drennan; 3. Wishing Stone, George Brennan, Dewayne Minor; 4. Il Villaggio, Jody Jamieson, Blair Burgess; 5. Hard Livin, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 6. Freedom Ridge, TBA, Harold Brocklehurst; 7. Flex The Muscle, David Miller, Ray Schnittker; 8. Break The Bank K, Brian Sears, Trond Smedshammer.
by Kimberly FRENCH, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent