Day At The Track

Muscles N Tuff takes 2YO Trot Championship

11:58 AM 24 Sep 2019 NZST
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Muscles N Tuff, harness racing
Driver Adam Hasuer and Muscles N Tuff on the lead
Gretchen Roland photo

What Cheer, IA -- After a roller coaster season, Garry Phillips' 2-year-old trotting gelding Muscles N Tuff finished his freshman harness racing season with a win in the 2-year-old Iowa Registered Trot Championship held on Monday (September 23) at the Keokuk County Fairgrounds.

A field of 2019's five top 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings went to the gate with Muscles N Tuff drawing post position two. Phillips had expected the Mintun/Gould Stable's Prince Banker would be the early leader.

"We thought Mark Mintun would be up there because he had the fastest time last week," said Phillips. "But that didn't happen."

Chad Svenson and Scoreoneforme wasted no time and shot off the gate quickly capturing the lead. Adam Hauser tucked Muscles N Tuff in the two hole, letting Scoreoneforme lead to the quarter in 30 seconds.

At the head of the stretch Dan Roland and Itsonlymoneyhoney pulled first up locking in Muscles N Tuff as the trio passed the half in 1:01.1. Itsonlymoneyhoney continued to gain ground on Scoreoneforme and edged ahead by the three-quarters in 1:32.1. Muscle N Tuff took advantage of the live cover and followed suit, also passing Scoreoneforme, in hot pursuit of Itsonlymoneyhoney.

"We were sitting right where we wanted to be," said Phillips.

Hauser tipped out Muscles N Tuff in the final turn, stealing the lead from Itsonlymoneyhoney and rolling home in 2:05.4. Itsonlymoneyhoney finished second and Scoreoneforme finished third followed by Prince Banker and Exhibition Day.

"We got a good trip out of him, there's no doubt about that," said Phillips. "Adam's done a super job driving."

Phillips knew this horse would be a good one. Muscles-N-Tuff was, afterall, a brother to Bust-N-Tuff, a trotting gelding Phillips had campaigned the past two years as a 2- and 3-year-old. He was one of Phillips' favorites.

"We bought him as a yearling because he was Bust N Tuff's brother," said Phillips. "Bust-N-Tuff trotted in 2:03.2 as a 2-year-old."

From the first crop of the Iowa sire Dredd, a son of Muscle Hill, Muscles N Tuff had some early differences from his older brother. Where Bust-N-Tuff was bulky, Muscles N Tuff is finer boned. Where Bust N Tuff was more excitable, Muscles-N-Tuff is more calm.

Muscles N Tuff started his season with a second place finish on his home track at Eldon, then racked up two wins and another second at Bloomfield, Oskaloosa and Kahoka. After that the colt stagnated, throwing in some uncharacteristic breaks and not finishing as strongly.

Phillips knew he had to make some changes. He put on shoes with more grab, painted the colts stifles, and trained him with the power cart. Muscles N Tuff responded well, winning the two weeks preceding the Championship race, first in 2:08 then in 2:07.3.

Shaving almost 2 seconds off his previous best in his 2:05.4 Championship mile, Muscles N Tuff  trotted the fastest 2-year-old colt mile in Iowa in 2019.

Phillips plans to give Muscles N Tuff a few months off, then train him back for the 2020 season.

by Gretchen L. Roland, for the Iowa Harness Horse Association

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