Day At The Track

Sunfire Blue Chip strives for 'Battle' title

09:06 AM 03 Jun 2017 NZST
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Sunfire Blue Chip
Sunfire Blue Chip

As his first and only crop of harness racing yearlings prepares to be educated for their future profession, Sunfire Blue Chip is demonstrating to his offspring just exactly how to follow in his hoofprints, as the 7-year-old son of American Ideal has just commenced his own 2017 campaign and seeks to add a $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie triumph to his already extensive list of accomplishments on Saturday (June 3).

"We stood him at stud for one year," said his conditioner Jimmy Takter. "I think he bred about 40 mares up in Ontario and since the market did not appear strong enough to support him, we thought we would bring him back to race him. He came back to us just great; the year off was good for him and he had been well taken care of."

Despite taking nearly the entire 2015 season off, Sunfire Blue Chip collected $193,440 from a record of 25-5-5-4 in 2016. In 2017, the stallion has faced the starter on five occasions with a slate of 2-1-1 and enters the Battle of Lake Erie off a third place finish in the $109,500 Molson Pace last Friday evening.

For his latest engagement Sunfire Blue Chip, who is owned by Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Brixton Medical Inc., and R A W Equine, will leave from post position eight at Northfield Park, with Mark MacDonald holding the lines and is ranked at 10-1 on the morning line.

The field includes recent foes Luck Be Withyou (post three, Aaron Merriman, 3-1) All Bets Off (post four, Matt Kakaley, 5-2), Night Pro (post six, Ronnie Wrenn Jr., 12-1) and Rockin Ron (post seven, Ryan Stahl, 8-1).

"I thought he raced well at Western Fair Raceway (Molson Pace)," Takter said. "With how that race set up and post six he did the best he could. Now with two weeks in a row with the six and the eight, that does not set up the best for him. Even horses with lots of gate speed would have to leave like Ferraris from those post positions."

While Sunfire Blue Chip does not possess an advantageous post to reach the winner's circle over this particular half-mile oval, the stallion holds the skills and ability to have his picture taken after the field crosses the finish line as his pedigree is bound to catch any breeder's eye. Out of Shot Togo Bluechip, the stallion is a full brother to 2012 Dan Patch Award winner Heston Blue Chip and his third dam is Katies Lucky Lady, who is responsible for 2003 Dan Patch Award winner Kikikatie, and stakes winners Just Wait Kate, Kiss Me Kate and Katie Said.

Although his name has been a frequent and strong presence within his division throughout his career, Sunfire Blue Chip's often does not leap off the page and it should, for he brings his own impressive credentials to the table.

Purchased for $75,000 as a yearling, the stallion was hampered by a hind ankle fracture as a 2-year-old and only raced five times in the fall. He captured three of those events and was fifth in the $165,975 Matron final in only his third career start.

At age three, Sunfire Blue Chip was a formidable opponent for the likes of Vegas Vacation and Captaintreacherous. In fact, he more than held his own with his colleagues by posting victories in the $450,000 Adios and the $215,500 Tattersalls Pace. The then-colt was fourth in the $275,000 Art Rooney Pace, third in the $500,000 Max Hempt final, and second in both the $257,250 Empire Breeders Classic final and the $450,000 Messenger.

To date he has banked nearly $1.2 million from 72 starts.

"He is such a kind, classy horse with the best attitude," Takter said. "He really is a sweet horse and is like a big dog. He is also such a good-looking horse and came back again this year just looking great. We are hoping he has another nice year."

The stallion will have plenty of opportunities to not only add to his bank account, but serve notice he is a top older pacing horse, as he is heavily staked for the season.

"There is no Always B Miki so that changes things," Takter said. "I also really like how he felt to me at the beginning of the year and feels now, so we thought he deserved a chance to prove what kind of horse he is. He is eligible to all the stakes races and we think he will show he can be a top horse."

The 2017 $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie field:

Horse Driver Trainer M/L

1 - Guantanamo Bay -  by Somebeachsomewhere - Vincent Ginsburg - Daniel Renaud,  9-2

2 - Soto - by Rock N Roll Heaven - Art Stafford Jr. - Eric Ell,  6-1

3 - Luck Be Withyou - by Western Ideal - Aaron Merriman - Chris Oakes,  3-1

4 - All Bets Off  - by Bettor's Delight - Matt Kakaley - Ron Burke,  5-2

5 - Mr Wiggle Pants - By Mr Wiggles - Aaron Merriman - Scott McEneny, 5-1

6 - Night Pro - by Pro Bono Best - Ronnie Wrenn Jr. - Dale Decker, 12-1

7 - Rockin Ron - by Real Desire - Aaron Merriman - Ron Burke,  8-1

8 - Sunfire Blue Chip - by American Ideal - Mark MacDonald - Jimmy Takter,  10-1

by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor

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