Day At The Track

Fractional ownership has two in Breeders Crown

08:00 AM 01 Nov 2020 NZDT
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Nearly every owner who gets involved in the sport of harness racing does so with aspirations of getting that one special horse who can compete and win at the stakes level. Nearly every fractional ownership group promises to fulfill those dreams, but few can claim to deliver on those promises and fulfil those dreams as reliably as VIP Internet Stable.

Horses like River Shark, Allstar Partner, Keystone Velocity, Charmed Life, and others have taken VIP Stable's partners to the upper echelons of the sport. On Saturday night (Oct. 31), two more of VIP Stable's horses have a chance to make their partners' dreams come true in the Breeders Crown at Harrah's Hoosier Park. Trillions Hanover and Lindy The Great, who will compete in the divisions for older pacing mares and older trotters, respectively.

"This is a really important weekend for us, having Trillions Hanover and Lindy The Great in there. I wouldn't say either of them are slam dunks, but they're not a million-to-one shots either. With a little bit of luck, both horses have a shot to take home some good money and they belong in there. We're really fortunate," said Ed O'Connor, VIP Stable founder and managing partner.

"I think we're in the two most top-heavy divisions," O'Connor continued. "The 2-year-olds are pretty competitive, the 3-year-olds are pretty competitive. The older trotters and the older mares are where you've got Atlanta and Shartin. Those are some really tough competition. We've had a good year so far, but we're really just excited for our partners to get in on Saturday night and have something really big to root for."

Trillions Hanover was a $20,000 buy for VIP Stable and trainer Tom Fanning at the 2017 Harrisburg sale. By Somebeachsomewhere out of the Western Ideal mare Tutu Hanover, Trillions Hanover went 4-for-7 as a freshman, including a victory in the $40,000 Stallion Series Final at Harrah's Philadelphia. At 3, Trillions Hanover earned her first Grand Circuit victory in the $122,224 Lady Maud at Yonkers and competed most of the big races: the Fan Hanover, the Lynch, the Shady Daisy, and Mistletoe Shalee. Trillions Hanover completed her sophomore season with 6 win in 15 starts and $192,440 earned.

"She's been a delight. Tom Fanning has done a great job with her," O'Connor said. "He raced her really conservatively as a 2-year-old. I think she raced in the "B" level races in Pennsylvania and did really well. Last year, she won a couple sire stakes races and the Lady Maud."

Trillions Hanover got a late start this year due to the COVID-19 lockdowns that temporarily shuttered racing across America from March through May. She earned her first win of the year in a $15,000 overnight at the Meadowlands June 26 before earning checks in the Dorothy Haughton and the Clara Barton at the Big M and Plainridge July 18 and 26, respectively. Trillions Hanover's biggest performances this year have come in Canada, however.

She shipped north of the border for the $220,400 Roses Are Red at Mohawk Aug. 29 and for the first time since her June 26 win, got an aggressive drive. Sylvain Filion sent the mare to the lead before yielding to favorite Warrawee Ubeaut. Trillions Hanover paced a :26.4 final quarter to finish second to the pacesetter in 1:49.4. In an elimination of the Milton Stakes Sept. 19, Bob McClure put Trillions Hanover on the front and she went the distance, scoring in 1:50.3.

"We had a lot of confidence in her all year," O'Connor said. "One of the downsides with trying to break into a division with a couple of really great horses is it's tough to ask your driver to race them really aggressively against horses like Shartin. We got up to Canada and got a couple of really nice, aggressive drives. She can leave the gate really well, she can close, she's really handy. There's nothing not to like about her."

Trillions Hanover made her most recent start in the $161,250 final of the Milton Sept. 26. Driver Doug McNair elected to stick to the pylons in third around the final turn and was never able to shake free in the stretch. Although Trillions Hanover appeared to be loaded with pace, she was mired in traffic through the lane and finished sixth. All told, Trillions Hanover is 13-for-32 with $341,741 earned for VIP Stable and partners Falcon Racing and Paul Lang.

"As much as our partners tend to get upset with drives that don't work out, I don't really like second-guessing those guys," O'Connor said. "They're making split-second decisions and trying to do the best they can. It didn't work out. It could have just as easily been the right move. Monday morning quarterbacking is always hard."

Trillions Hanover drew post nine in the $300,000 Breeders Crown Final for open pacing mares, the 12th race Saturday night at Hoosier Park. Bob McClure will take the lines again and the pair are 20-1 on the morning line. The field also includes division heavyweights Shartin, Kissin In The Sand, and Warrawee Ubeaut.

"We've got Bob McClure who did a great job with her in Canada, so we'll cross our fingers and hope for the best," O'Connor said. "The division is a little more competitive. It's not just Shartin and everybody else. Maybe if there's a little bit of action, we can close into it. Who knows. We're happy to be there. If we can come home with a decent check, we're going to be really excited. A 4-year-old racing against older mares is always a tough spot to be in and she's given a good account of herself all year.

Trillions Hanover had one qualifier leading up to the Breeders Crown, pacing a mile in 1:51.1 at the Meadowlands Oct. 17. She trained well this week before shipping to Indiana Thursday (Oct. 29).

"Trillions Hanover really races well off a little bit of rest. We've been fine qualifying her up to a few events this year," O'Connor said. "Up in Canada, she went back-and-forth, she didn't stay up there. That's a little extra wear and tear on her. Tom Fanning wanted to give her an easy week after her last race and qualify her back. I think he was looking for a start and it just didn't work out. I think she will be plenty ready and it's just a matter of how the race shakes out for us."

Unlike Trillions Hanover, who was a relatively inexpensive yearling purchase, Lindy The Great was an aged racehorse buy for VIP Stable at the Meadowlands January Mixed sale. Hammering down for $450,000, the 6-year-old son of Crazed became VIP Stable's most expensive purchase to date and one of their most popular offerings.

"We sold out of our share of the horse within six hours. The idea that people can get involved at the very top level, that's what they're in it for," O'Connor said. "Clearly people want a return on their investment and when you're racing for these kind of purses and you have the ability to get a lot of your money back in one or two starts, guys like that. It's been really exciting.

"We've got a small but elite group of guys and gals we've worked with for a long period of time who really want to be involved at the top level," O'Connor continued. "Doing it on your own means your spending $450,000 on Lindy The Great. Going out on your own for something like that is an aggressive move. Back to our bread and butter, breaking up a price like that over a number of partners, it gets to be affordable."

Campaigned under the name "Team Lindy The Great" and in partnership with Andy Miller Stable, Inc., Lindy The Great is 0-for-13 on the season, but has earned $316,674 with second-place finishes in the Cashman, Maple Leaf Trot, and Dayton Trotting Derby, thirds in the Caesar's Trotting Classic and the Cutler, and fourths in the Spirit of Massachusetts, Crawford Farms Trot, and Allerage Open Trot.

"I don't know what the record is for earnings without a victory," O'Connor joked. "I would have hoped that he could have picked up an open. He raced in an open at Hoosier getting ready for the Caesar's and he raced again last week. I know those are just tighteners, but who knows. Maybe we'll break through this week or in the TVG. The competition is really tough with Atlanta and Gimpanzee, but we'll give it a go.

"It's very different than racing overnights. Most of our horses, unless you're racing upper-level conditions or opens, seconds and thirds are nice, but they're not going to make a big difference in having a big month or having a bill for the month," O'Connor continued. "But when you're racing for $500,000, seconds and thirds are big checks. That's been really good.

"Atlanta is just a very special mare, Gimpanzee is a great horse. Up against them, do we expect to win? Never. Would we like to win? Of course," O'Connor said. "With the races we're in, to come in second and race as well as we have, we're happy. It's hard not to be excited about the way Lindy The Great has performed this year. Andy and Julie have done a super job with him."

One of Lindy The Great's highlights this season came in the $291,350 Cashman on Hambletonian Day. Andy Miller was aggressive with the trotter early before moving first-over on leader Atlanta up the backstretch. Lindy The Great drew even with the sensational mare at the top of the stretch and under a stiff right-handed drive, put his head in front. However, favored Gimpanzee tipped three-wide off cover and bore down on them both. Lindy The Great quickened when met with the challenge while Atlanta retreated. Gimpanzee had the momentum though and drew away to a 3/4-length win.

"He went first-over and cleared by everybody. Gimpanzee got to us late, he had a really easy trip and went right by us," O'Connor said. "Lindy The Great was super, he couldn't have raced any better. He's just a really, really nice horse that tries hard. He can leave, he can come from behind. He's done it any which way. We've had a number of situations where we go into a big money race and we're not the favorite, but we have a chance and if we get a big check finishing second, it's hard not to be excited."

Lindy The Great will start from post six as a 10-1 morning line in the $500,000 Breeders Crown Open Trot, the 14th race at Hoosier Park Saturday night. The lineup also includes Atlanta and two-time Breeders Crown champion Gimpanzee. A top four finish would boost Lindy The Great's career earnings over the $1 million mark; he currently boasts a record of 14 wins from 60 starts and $965,799 banked.

What if one or both of Trillions Hanover and Lindy The Great were to win their Breeders Crown Finals?

"I haven't really thought about it," O'Connor answered. "We're hoping to go and get a good trip and get a check. If you're in it, you always have a chance, so it's tremendously exciting. It would always make a difference for our partners. They get into this for the thrill. Horse racing isn't an investment you make because you need a return on your dough. The fun you have is a big part of your ROI.

"We've always said this is the best advertising we could possibly get. Having our name in the program in big races really tells people across the industry what level of racing we are in and expect to be in. Not that it's better or worse than when we used to race overnights at Rosecroft, but we've been doing this for over 20 years, we've had some really great horses, and we are a source people can look to, to get involved at the very top level of the game."

For more information on VIP Internet Stable and ownership opportunities, click here.

By Brandon Valvo, for VIP Stable

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