Canucks Provide A Tall Task For Coaches Corner

Coaches Corner

Four horses will enter Monday’s $457,000 (USD) MGM Borgata Pacing Series final for older male pacers having been no worse than second in any of the preliminary action at MGM Yonkers Raceway.

Desperate Man, who was a perfect four-for-four in the prelims, and Linedrive Hanover, whose only setback in his four starts was a second-place finish to Desperate Man, are the headliners.

Then there are Coaches Corner and Whats Stanley Got A.

Coaches Corner was a standout on the Indiana Sired Fair Circuit last season as a three-year-old. The son of Always A Virgin-Carobbean Pacetry has continued to excel since arriving at Yonkers. He has raced 17 times at The Hilltop and finished no worse than second on 15 occasions, winning nine. He competed in all five of the Borgata’s preliminary rounds, finishing second in the first four before breaking through for victory last week. He scored in 1:51.2, coming his last quarter in :26.3 for driver Jason Bartlett and trainer Per Engblom.

“He’s been sneaky good in every single leg,” said Bartlett. “It was good to see him get a little racing luck and get a win finally. For a horse that’s won most of his races on the front end, he loves to pass horses. We’ve raced him like that as he got up higher in the classes, and it seems to be fitting him pretty well. He’s surging late at the wire every week.”

Prior to the beginning of the Borgata, Coaches Corner had led at either the first quarter or half of 15 of his previous 19 races. He had been second in three of the remaining four.

In the Borgata, he was third at the half twice, fourth once, and fifth twice (including in his win last week). He kicked home in :27.2 or faster the last four of his prelims and is the only horse in the final with a sub-:27 last quarter in the series, which he did twice.

“He seems to be pacing harder at the line the last two or three weeks than any part of the mile,” said Bartlett. “If they do race early, they know they’re going to have to come home real quick because my horse shows coming home :26 the last couple weeks.

“Him being four years old and racing against these types of horses, it was probably a tough task to ask, but Per has done a great job with him and the horse himself has a great attitude. He just loves to track down horses right now and wants to win. That kind of makes me look pretty good.”

Coaches Corner, owned by Jeff Fought Racing and Brian Carsey, will start Monday’s final from post six and is the 5-1 third choice on the morning line. Desperate Man, a six-year-old who leaves from post four with Matt Kakaley driving for trainer Travis Alexander, is the 7-5 favourite. Linedrive Hanover, a six-year-old leaving from post two with Scott Zeron in the sulky for trainer Linda Toscano, is 8-5. No other horse has morning-line odds lower than 12-1.

“Desperate Man and Linedrive drawing inside is going to make it tougher on all of us,” said Bartlett, who is a two-time winner of the series final. “Hopefully we get a little action early. We’re going to just take this race as it comes to us during the mile. This race is always kind of crazy. It never goes according to plan. It’s kind of a wild race, and rightfully so with the amount of money we’re going for.”

Whats Stanley Got A, an eight-year-old son of Heston Blue Chip-Whats Nero Got owned by VIP Internet Stable and Stratton Stable, enters the Borgata final with a win and three seconds in his four prelim starts. He will leave from post three with driver George Brennan and is among two horses at 12-1, with defending series champion Hellabalou.

“He’s as sharp as can be right now,” trainer Cory Stratton said about Whats Stanley Got A, who has a win and four seconds in 10 races this season. “He’s a tough horse, and he can race any way. He was having some tie-up issues before the series started, but thankfully we got that under control.”

In Monday’s $276,200 (USD) Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final for older female pacers, Bartlett will drive Tonys Mom, who is also trained by Engblom. Tonys Mom, a five-year-old daughter of Heston Blue Chip-Donna Lee, will start from post three and is 6-1 on the morning line.

Tonys Mom, owned by Morrison Racing Stables and Brian Gordon, missed the fourth of the five preliminary rounds because of sickness but returned April 12 to finish third behind finalists Coachellabound N and Karma Seelster. Earlier in the series, Tonys Mom had a win, a fourth and a fifth.

“I don’t know if she’s as sharp as she was earlier in the season,” said Bartlett. “Last week she was a little better. The week before she was sick. I would expect a little bit better performance this week.”

Tonys Mom made one start as a two-year-old and spent part of her three-year-old campaign competing in the New York Sire Stakes Excelsior Series. Bartlett won the 2015 Matchmaker final with five-year-old Venus Delight, who also made one start at two and then raced in the Excelsior at three.

“It’s funny how the Excelsior horses become nice open mares and raceway horses; we see a lot of that,” said Bartlett. “[Tonys Mom] is a versatile horse; she can race from behind, she can race from the front. There are no quirks to her. She’s very quick off the gate and gets into position, so I don’t think we have to do anything fancy to be in the race.”

Lit De Rose, a nine-year-old trained and driven by Pat Lachance, is the 2-1 morning-line favourite in the Matchmaker. She competed in all five preliminary rounds of the series, posting three wins, a second and a third. She will start the final from post one.

Coachellabound N, a six-year-old who leaves from post two with Yannick Gingras in the bike for trainer Ricky Bucci, is the 3-1 second choice. She had a win and two seconds among her five prelims. Dougs Babe A, a seven-year-old, is 7-2 after hitting the board in all five of her prelims, winning once and finishing second twice. Dexter Dunn will drive for trainer Nifty Norman.

Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT) at Yonkers. A free program for Monday's card of harness racing is available here courtesy the Standardbred Owners Association of New York.


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