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'Illbthere' Fulfills Trainer's Promise

Published: October 25, 2014 10:16 am ET

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"I'm glad that I'm in the mix of horses that I'm in because the two of us proved that we can battle with the best."

With just a handful of horses in his stable, trainer Erv Abdulov is thrilled to have a two-year-old trotting filly racing against the best in the division -- and not only racing against them, racing and competing with them. And while Tymal Illbthere might be the longest shot on the morning line for Saturday night's Goldsmith Maid, that doesn't reflect the chances her trainer feels she has going into the stiffest test of her young career.

The story doesn't start out with a horse that struck a trainer's eye. In fact, it started with a pacing yearling in 2012.

"I had purchased horses from Tymal Farms in the past -- actually, I bought a Camluck filly the year before," Abdulov told Trot Insider. "We formed a relationship from there."

The next year, Tymal Illbthere was entered into the 2013 Forest City Yearling Sale. According to Adbdulov, farm owner John McKinley had a price in mind for his yearling and when it wasn't reached he bought her back.

"John said, even from Day 1 when she was a foal and a weanling, she was very professional and could trot...all she knew how to do was trot," said Erv. "For that reason alone, he bought her back because he saw something in her."

Wanting to retain majority ownership, McKinley pieced out a percentage of the filly to owner Shawn Dixon of London, and the only piece of the puzzle left was finding a trainer.

That's where Abdulov comes in. A phone call was made and the deal to train the filly was set. Although dealing mostly with pacers, Abdulov said 'Illbthere' was "just a natural" from the minute she set foot on the track.

"The biggest asset to her is she's just mature. She acts like she's seven or eight years old. Nothing seems to rile her up," the London, Ont. resident stated. "Naturally-gaited, naturally wants to work, never goes more than you ask her...she's a professional, I think that's the right word for her."

She was certainly bred to be a professional. A daughter of Deweycheatumnhowe, the first foal from strong OSS competitor Ill Wait For You, who tussled with the likes of Elusive Desire during her two years on the track but still managed to stash away nearly $400,000 in her two- and three-year-old seasons.

Her on-track debut came in early July at Mohawk, and it was impressive. Tymal Illbthere and driver Chris Christoforou closed stoutly to win in 2:04

"When I first qualified her, Chris Christoforou -- who I thank...he took her, and he made her the horse she is as far as I'm concerned, he taught her to be a racehorse -- he said 'be patient, she's growthy and a little weak in the stifles, take your time.'"

On that recommendation, and given the fily's size which Abdulov characterized as "abnormally big", the decision was made to race Tymal Illbthere in the Grassroots and away from the smaller tracks. There was a Gold event at Mohawk that fit the schedule, so the connections gave her a shot and she responded with a second-place finish, just back half a length, in her first Gold test on August 18. In Abdulov's words, "she raced huge"

Based on timing, the connections were left with a predicament. Continue racing in the Golds for more money with limited chances left and possibly miss the Grassroots final, or continue racing in the Grassroots.

"It's not only about racing this horse; it's about John, who owns the mare, making the pedigree on this family look good."

The decision was made to stay in the Grassroots and continue to develop the filly. With the Grassroots season now complete, Dixon, Tymal and Abdulov have a filly on their hands that's "just hitting her stride." So with the payment made to race, it was a "no-brainer" to enter Tymal Illbthere in the $464,000 Goldsmith Maid.

"After her last race, even after the Grassroots Final -- where maybe we should have had her in the race a little bit sooner, and we didn't -- I said to John, "you've already made the payments, trust me, she will be a Gold horse horse next year, I'll prove it to you if you give me the chance,' and he did.

"We made a bridle change and a shoeing change, and the outcome was what you saw last week."

Dismissed at 50-1, Tymal Illbthere was a strong third and individually trotted her mile in 1:55.2 -- just three and a half lengths back of harness racing's fastest ever rookie trotter Mission Brief.

Abdulov gave his filly a light schedule heading into Saturday's race, saying that she's going into this week's race as good as she was last week. Trevor Henry will once again be in the sulky, but the duo will have their work cut out for them with the second outermost starting spot in Post 9.

If the race plays out how Abdulov thinks it will, he feels Tymal Illbthere "will be a part of it" at the end of the mile.

The Goldsmith Maid nearly half-million dollar purse is the biggest race in Abdulov's career, more than double the biggest race prior to this one -- the 2012 Forest City Pace with Modern Cinderella. With that said, there isn't a sense of nervousness in the trainer.

"I thought I'd be more nervous but this filly doesn't give you that feeling, because I know every week she gives me 110 percent, said Abdulov. "The owners are so easy to get along with; they put no pressure on you whatsoever."

As much as he's thrilled to have a horse in a race of this stature, it's evident that he's just as thrilled for that ownership group.

"This couldn't happen to a better person," speaking in reference to Tymal's Dr. John McKinley. "I talk to him and his wife Shelagh quite a bit and they said this is the first time they've ever owned a racehorse that they've enjoyed racing and they look forward to racing. They feel like they're a part of the horse, as opposed to just being a bill payer.

"Shawn, he's been around a long time, he's had some decent horses here and there, and he's ecstatic. This is the biggest race of his life too. It's this kind of hope and excitement that keeps people in the business and want to buy another horse, and that's what the industry needs."

Race 3 – Goldsmith Maid – Purse: $464,000
(Post – Horse - Driver - Odds)

1. Jolene Jolene – Brian Sears - 4-1
2. Demons N Diamonds – Scott Zeron - 20-1
3. Gatka Hanover – Sylvain Filion - 6-1
4. Mission Brief – Yannick Gingras - 3-5
5. Flirting Filly – Ron Pierce - 20-1
6. Smexi – Corey Callahan - 20-1
7. Stubborn Belle – Paul MacDonell - 8-1
8. Juanitas Fury – Steve Condren - 20-1
9. Tymal Illbthere – Trevor Henry - 20-1
10. Danielle Hall – Jody Jamieson - 12-1
AE: Lilu Hanover – Scott Zeron

The Goldsmith Maid is one of four races set for Saturday night hat Woodbine that will feature the finest two-year-olds in harness racing. The $565,000 Governors Cup, the $521,000 Valley Victory, the $464,000 Goldsmith Maid and the $424,000 Three Diamonds make up the Fall Four Stakes, highlighting a $2.1-million card.

To view the entries for Saturday's rich card, click one of the following links:
Saturday Entries – Woodbine Racetrack -- Saturday Program Pages - Woodbine Racetrack.


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