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Eyes On A Bigger Prize

Published: November 19, 2017 9:30 am ET

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When two-year-old trotter Alarm Detector won the $400,000 William Wellwood Memorial final at Mohawk Racetrack two months ago, co-owner Claude Hamel thought he'd get his first Breeders Crown starter this year.

It didn't happen.

Alarm Detector had a foot issue after the Wellwood and was stopped for the year.

"It's nothing serious, but we didn't want to take any chances with him. He'll probably start back in May. We've got great expectations for him next year, including the Hambletonian," said Hamel, 57, a farm-equipment dealer from Coaticook, Quebec, who's owned horses for about 30 years.

Alarm Detector is the best he's been associated with so far. A $110,000 yearling, the Chapter Seven colt had six wins and a second in seven starts this year, made $276,870, and set a Canadian record in the Wellwood when he trotted the mile in 1:52.4.

Hamel also is a co-owner of another of trainer Ben Baillargeon's heavy hitters, consistent five-year-old trotter Musical Rhythm, who's ground out another $176,740 in 2017 after collecting $361,587 in 2016. Baillargeon purchased him at auction as a three-year-old for $33,000.

On the pacing side, Hamel has had a productive year from his four-year-old Up The Credit mare HP Sissy, now in the care of trainer Rene Allard. She has nine wins to date in 2017, including a $50,000 preferred at Yonkers, and her earnings exceed $138,000.

Overall, though, Hamel summarizes his year as "average...because of the number." He had about 15 horses in training, and a lot of them disappointed or had to be stopped. He's hoping they'll rebound next year, but he also brought in reinforcements, acquiring shares of 10 more yearlings this fall, including another Chapter Seven who sold for $140,000 (U.S.).

(A Trot Insider by Paul Delean)

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