Day At The Track

Lord Cromwell seeks consecutive victories

03:35 AM 21 Jul 2019 NZST
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Lord Cromwell, harness racing
Lord Cromwell seen here winning at Saratoga
Melissa Simser-Iovino Photo

YONKERS, N.Y. – Lord Cromwell has proven to be a talented trotter, amassing 16 wins from 57 starts and earning $396,626 to date for harness racing owners and breeders Irving and Carolyn Atherton.

The 5-year-old scored his first victory in the $46,000 Open Handicap Trot at Yonkers Raceway last week (July 13) and seeks to double up tonight (July 20). 

The Atherton’s are thankful each time their Chapter Seven son steps on the track after nearly losing their homebred as a 2-year-old.

Lord Cromwell always made a good impression as a young horse. Out of the Athertons’ mare Oh Oh It’s Magic, who won the 2007 Empire Breeders’ Classic Final and earned $392,202, the Athertons and trainer Ed Hart sung praises about Lord Cromwell as he trained well. 

“When he was born, he looked the part. When he was a yearling, Ed Hart said he thought he was going to be a really, really good horse,” Irving Atherton recalled.

“Your trainer tells you as a 2-year-old he’s training in 2:04 on a five-eighths track and then he calls back the next day and says, ‘I couldn’t get him to go 2:30.’ It’s really just not a good feeling.”

Hart and the Athertons consulted several vets, but none could determine what, if anything, was wrong with Lord Cromwell. Finally, the Athertons sent Lord Cromwell to a clinic in Pennsylvania, where a discovery was made.

“We found out that he had severely infected testicles. As soon as they saw him, they saw the enlargement and they took x-rays and they said they had to geld him right on the spot,” Atherton said. “They thought within 24 or 48 hours, he would have died on us.”

After flirting with death, Lord Cromwell still made four starts as a 2-year-old and won two divisions of the $6,700 New York Excelsior B Series. However, it was at 3 that Lord Cromwell began to shine. 

Lord Cromwell impressed in his training and scored a 1:56 qualifying win at the Meadowlands April 15, 2017. Hart and the Athertons entered Lord Cromwell in the Dexter Cup eliminations two weeks later. With John Campbell in the sulky, he was dismissed at odds of 7-1, but posted a wire-to-wire 3-length victory. Lord Cromwell returned the following week to score a 5¼-length win in the $143,737 final in a stakes record 1:55.0.

“We got the highest pleasure from John Campbell, he thought he was a Hambletonian horse,” Atherton recalled. “He did what he had to do and he still has the track record for the Dexter.”

Ineligible for the Hambletonian, Lord Cromwell raced on the New York circuit at 3, winning a leg of the New York Sire Stakes at Saratoga and the Landmark at Goshen. He finished third from post seven in the $225,000 NYSS Final.

Last year, Lord Cromwell made the Final of the Graduate Trotting Series and raced in the conditioned and Open ranks at Yonkers, Pocono Downs, and the Meadowlands. Now at 5, the gelding is getting even better.

Lord Cromwell won his seasonal debut in a $23,000 overnight at Yonkers March 15 and finished third in a local Open Handicap Trot next out March 30. He was on the board in two $29,000 races at the Hilltop before a string of four losses sent him to a $12,500 overnight at Pocono, where he recorded at lifetime mark of 1:53 May 28. Lord Cromwell went back-to-back at Pocono for $14,000 June 8 before returning to Yonkers. He worked his way back up the conditions and made it to the $46,000 Open last week.

With the benefit of starting from post one, Lord Cromwell rode a pocket trip behind Will Take Charge and collared that rival in the stretch to score a neck win in 1:53.3.

“He was super, he was just superb. He got a nice pocket trip. It was terrific,” Atherton said. “It’s a pleasure to watch him. I know he gives 100 percent every time he’s out there.

“It’s a fantastic feeling,” Atherton continued. “The greatest places in the world to win races are Yonkers and the Meadowlands. He’s just a good horse. He’s a pleasure to watch race because he’s always trying and we’re as thrilled as anybody can be. We have a nice horse to watch and we know that anytime he steps onto the track, he’s got a chance because he’s not a quitter.”

Despite his impressive record, Lord Cromwell is on the smaller side and is a light horse. He sometimes requires time off to recover from hard races and is lightly raced, with just 57 starts in his 3 years on the track.

“He’s a very, very bad eater. He probably should have another 100 or 200 pounds on him, but he’s very fussy,” Atherton said. “We have this special food that Ed Hart gets from California. That’s why he’s not heavily raced because he has to get some time off. He gives everything he’s got. He’s not a big guy, he’s not tiny, but he’s not a big horse. Just  nice, good-hearted, and he wants to win.”

Lord Cromwell drew post six for his repeat bid in the featured trot and will have Larry Stalbaum in the sulky. Will Take Charge drew immediately to Lord Cromwell’s outside and Eye Ofa Tiger As will start from post eight. New Heaven, who won two straight races on the lead before finishing sixth while coming from off the pace in last week’s Open, will start from post three. In Secret will start from post five off a front-stepping score from post seven last out. In My Dreams, Trotting Grace, and Melady’s Monet complete the lineup.

“The race is a difficult race to handicap because I think Will Take Charge will leave again and my feeling is the horse who didn’t leave last week, New Heaven, he might leave because he’s got the three hole. There is some speed in there. Larry Stalbaum is going to have to drive a smart race,” Atherton said.

Whatever the result tonight, Atherton is just happy to have Lord Cromwell on the track.

“I’ve been in this game a long, long time,” he said. “You know the ups and downs and now you’ve got to enjoy the ups. We’ve had a lot of ups in our life.”

Saturday night’s card also features the $46,000 Open Handicap Pace and the $37,000 4-Year-Old Open Handicap Pace. 

For entries to the races, click here.

By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

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