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Auckland Reactor To North America; Curtin, Harrison Comment

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Published: January 6, 2010 3:46 pm ET

Last Comment: January 6, 2010 9:48 pm ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

It is now official. After months of speculation and anticipation, world-class Mach Three horse Auckland Reactor is coming to North America for an aged stakes campaign. Former New Zealand trainer Kelvin Harrison will be training the six-year-old, and Trot Insider spoke with the conditioner about the incoming pacing star.

Auckland Reactor's New Zealand manager, John Curtin, stated that the connections of the horse spoke with several leading United States-based trainers before Harrison. Curtin was also cited as saying that during the early stages of finding a North American trainer, Harrison's name was not on the top of the list.

"Kelvin really won them over on the phone," Curtin was quoted as saying in The New Zealand Herald. He went on to say, "he (Harrison) would have been a rank outsider to get the horse just a week ago, but one of the owners suggested his name so we got him on a conference call and he was great."

Harrison impressed five of Auckland Reactor's 'directors' in the phone interview. The article cites Harrison's record with imported horses and his knowledge of Auckland Reactor as key factors.

When in conversation with Trot Insider, Harrison said that he couldn't put his finger on one particular aspect of the discussion which sealed the deal for his services, but that the conversation went very well. "I can't really say for sure," Harrison told Trot Insider. "I didn't know until last night that it (the deal) was official.

"I know some of the individuals from the group very well. I have had nothing but positive dealings with John Curtin, Fred Brayford, Gary Lyons and Peter Heffering (members of Auckland Reactor Ltd.) over the years, and I have a lot of respect for the way they have conducted their business within this industry of ours. The first time I had ever spoken with Jerry Silva was last night. I don't need to say anything about what people like Jerry Silva mean to this industry, his reputation precedes him, as it should."

Auckland Reactor is set to leave for the United States on Tuesday, January 19, and after arriving will be sent to Harrison's base of operations, the Magical Acres Training Centre in New Jersey.

"Basically, I told them (during the phone conversation) that I'd follow Auckland Reactor very closely," he told Trot Insider. "A horse like him is one in which you want to be doing everything. Obviously, a horse like Auckland Reactor is one that has to be closely watched. Great horses are born, not made, and I'm really looking forward to getting started with him."

And focus is something that Harrison said he can provide, in spades. His stable has sent out a modest amount of starters since the early 1990s, anywhere from the high 200s to the mid-400s. As The New Zealand Herald states, Harrison is well known to Down Under harness racing followers as the conditioner that sent out Dare You To at the 1991 Interdominion. Racing fans in North America may instantly associate the 59-year-old trainer with $825,052 earner Direct Flight from the mid 1990s or Frightening P, the mare that took a sub-1:49 mark (1:48.4) over the Meadowlands as a six-year-old in the mid 1990s.

Auckland Reactor has earned $942,143 for his connections, which include Canadian owners Peter Heffering, Tom Kyron, Bill Loyens, Doug Millard, Irv Storfer, Fred Brayford and Dr. Michael Wilson.

Auckland Reactor will be taking the long trek to New Jersey with his groom, Jeremy Young, who has been the horse's constant companion while campaigning in New Zealand.

"The first thing that I am going to do is turn [Auckland Reactor] out and give him the chance to get acclimatized as quickly as possible," Harrison told Trot Insider. "I think that his initial start will be important. He's going to be in the best of the best stakes races in 2010, so we obviously want him to get off on the right foot. He's a great horse -- possibly the best ever."

Auckland Reactor's syndicate will reportedly pay between $40,000 and $50,000 to pay the star up to North America's major stakes event for aged pacers.

Harrison would not go into detail with Trot Insider about the specifics of the horse's 2010 stakes slate, but did say that "he will be tackling all of the biggest ones," referring specifically to the Breeders Crown, US Pacing Championship and the Canadian Pacing Derby, which is annually raced on Canada's top Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit.

Curtin was quoted by The New Zealand Herald as saying that, "the plan is to race him up there (North America) this year and if he shows his best he will probably be retired to stud there at the end of the season."

(With files from The New Zealand Herald)

January 6, 2010 - 9:48 pmMany of the best trainers in

Many of the best trainers in New Zealand say he is the second coming of Cardigan Bay. If so he will be something to see:)

January 6, 2010 - 4:26 pmAll the best to the horse

All the best to the horse and the connections. Boy, do we need a hero, to supply some positives to North American Standarbred Racing!!!!!


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