Day At The Track

Bettor's Wish, Gimpanzee to tackle older foes

04:52 AM 22 Nov 2019 NZDT
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Bettor's Wish, harness racing Gimpanzee, harness racing
Bettor's Wish
Ken Weingartner photo
Gimpanzee in action
Mike Lizzi photo

It's been decades since a 3-year-old male pacer beat older harness racing horses in a race the magnitude of Saturday's $350,000 TVG Open Pace championship at The Meadowlands, but Bettor's Wish is ready to give it a go.

Gimpanzee, on the other hand, will attempt to continue a win streak for 3-year-old male trotters in the $350,000 TVG Open Trot final. The past two editions of the championship were won by sophomores, Tactical Landing in 2018 and What The Hill in 2017.

The TVG open finals are part of a stakes-filled card Saturday at the Big M. There also are TVG championships for trotting mares and pacing mares plus the Fall Final Four for 2-year-old male and female trotters and pacers. Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EST).

Bettor's Wish is this year's richest horse, with $1.56 million in purses. He has won 13 of 18 races and finished second in all five of his defeats (the past four by no more than a neck). He heads to the TVG Open Pace off a victory in the Matron Stakes for 3-year-old male pacers Nov. 14 at Dover Downs.

The most recent 3-year-old male pacer to knock off older foes in a major race was Niatross, who won the American Pacing Classic at Hollywood Park in 1980. The only 3-year-old to previously enter the TVG Open Pace final was Captaintreacherous, who finished sixth in 2013.

"I hope to win it," said Chris Ryder, who trains and co-owns Bettor's Wish. "Honestly, I never put my expectations too high. That's the way I started in the business, and that's the way I am. But this horse always, I don't want to say exceeds my expectations, but he always gets there. He gives you a lot of confidence. I'm never nervous racing this horse, he's just a high achiever.

"If we could win it, it would be huge. I know it's a risk, but no risk, no gain. Things don't happen if you don't try. I'm just excited to be in. To think at the beginning of the season that we would have been in with the big boys at the end of the year, you never would have thought that. But he's earned his way in, all credit to him."

Bettor's Wish, by Bettor's Delight out of Lifetime Star, will start the TVG final from post seven with driver Dexter Dunn. The 10-horse field includes returning event champion McWicked, who also is the defending Horse of the Year in the U.S. and Canada, as well as Breeders Crown winner American History, Potomac Pace winner Endeavor, and Canadian Pacing Derby winner Courtly Choice.

"We're just pleased to be in it, pleased that we're well, and that's it," said Ryder, who owns Bettor's Wish with Bella Racing, Fair Island Farm, and Bettors Wish Partners. "He's as good as ever."

Gimpanzee will start the TVG Open Trot from post two with Brian Sears driving for trainer Marcus Melander. The colt faces a group that includes history's fastest female trotter, Manchego, and one of history's fastest male trotters, Six Pack, as well as Maple Leaf Trot winner Guardian Angel AS.

"It will be an exciting race to watch," Melander said. "I don't know what to expect. I know my horse is very good at the moment. I think he's coming into the race very sharp.

"It's been a long season for all these horses, so you never know. But I'm confident in my horse. I think he can step up and win this race, otherwise I wouldn't have put him in the race. I didn't want to be in the race just to be in it. I believe he is capable to win the race, but it's going to be tough."

Gimpanzee, who was the 2018 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter, has won eight of 13 races this season and $1.10 million. The son of Chapter Seven-Steamy Windows, owned by Courant Inc. and S R F Stable, enters the TVG off wins in the Breeders Crown in October and Matron Stakes on Nov. 14.

"He came out of the Matron very good," Melander said. "We trained him (Wednesday) morning and everything felt good. I'm pleased with him.

"We got a good draw. You never know when you're racing against aged horses, but I was really happy with how my horse performed last week. He showed, at least, that he's in good form. There were some nice 3-year-olds in that race, and he won pretty easily."

Manchego will arrive at The Meadowlands with a six-race win streak, which includes her 1:49 world-record triumph at the Allerage Mare Trot at Lexington's Red Mile and the Breeders Crown Mare Trot final. Six Pack, who owns a career mark of 1:49.1 and season mark of 1:49.2, won the Allerage Open Trot and finished second from post 10 to French star Bold Eagle in the Breeders Crown.

For Saturday's complete Meadowlands entries, click here.

by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

 


 

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