By Mike Paradise
The $21,700 Cardinal trot championship for ICF trotting colts and geldings and the $20,100 Violet Final for state-bred filly trotters will be decided Thursday night at Hawthorne and a trio of Kenny Collier trained sophomores figure to major players in each.
Collier sends out Fear (Todd Warren) and Wrightwood (Bobby Smolin), the one-two finishers in last week’s Cardinal elimination in that stake’s sixth race showdown. He also has Vengeful,(Casey Leonard) an easy 1:58.2 winner in the Violet elim, going in that stake’s eighth race championship.
All three trotters are owned by Providence West Inc. of Media, Pennsylvania and each has an interesting story.
Fear earned almost $25,000 in his first season won a Hanover but that was his only victory as a 2-year-old. The speedball had trouble carrying his speed for the entire mile.
“The horse also had some development problems. He had son EPM issues.
“This year when we started back with him I told his owner I was going to try something training him that I never did before and just hopes that it works.
“I started training him every other day and just go one trip with him. He would jog one day and then train the other. That seems to have calmed him down and has gotten him to the races much sounder and better.
“Fear’s drivers have also helped out a lot. They’ve given me some feedback and it’s helped keep Fear going in the right direction.”
Fear leaves from post two in the Cardinal Final with regular driver Todd Warren. His stable-late Wrightwood has post nine.
Wrightwood won his first three starts as a freshman including Balmoral’s Plesac Final but then could do no better than fourth in his next three starts and began having a breaking problem.
“Wrightwood raced out of the barn of Nelson Willis last year,” continued Collier. “The horse did real well in his first few races and he caught my eye in a Hanover that Fear won even though he made a break coming at my horse.
“When I found out he was in the February Delaware Sale I made a call and contacted the horse’s owner and we ended up buying him.
“When we started training him we noticed on the track he was jittery about a lot of things. For instance if you were warming him up and there was a tractor ahead of him, he would start to dart and dodge around and eventually would make a break.
“We raced him now with five separate hoods on his head. Two so he can’t hear much. He has a screen hood that makes it harder for him to see shadows, a set of amber colored goggles, and a blinker hood so he can’t see behind him.
“When he comes out on the track he looks like he has ‘bug eyes,” said Kenny laughing.
Wrightwood’s head garb may not look pretty but it is working. The horse has stay flat in his two recent Hawthorne starts, a third place finish in a Dygert stake series division and his second place finish to Fear last week.
Vengeful (Todd Warren) has post eight in the Violet Final. The filly won 4 of 11 starts and made over $44,000 in an up and down freshman campaign.
“She was real temperamental as a 2-year-old and what we found out later us that she was actually coming into heat but wasn’t showing it in an outwardly way. A couple of times behind the gate she tried to kick Casey (Leonard) or the horse beside her.
“She was sour and quite a handful in the barn,
“We had her checked out at the end of the year and found out she had a cyst on her ovary. We took care of her problem and she’s been a much different horse this year.
We have a $7,500 trotter named Cougar Lady who races at Hoosier that we try to keep in the stall right alongside Vengeful. They are like best friends and with Cougar Lady being there it has helped Vengeful’s attitude.”
It certainly has. After not hitting the board in her first three 2016 starts in Indiana, Vengeful has been second in her first two legs of the Dygert filly trot series and then breezed in front-end fashion (1:58.2) in last week’s Violet elimination with Warren.