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Austin’s Beauties Are Beasts


Published: December 6, 2011 1:41 pm ET

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Trainer Mark Austin grins when he tells you looks can indeed be deceiving. Sparky Mark, arguably the top horse on the WEG circuit in recent weeks, and Machleen, who recently captured her Autumn Stakes elimination, are from the same family and not surprisingly, share similar traits. And though they might not turn heads with their physical attributes, they have been attracting the attention of racing fans with some eye-catching performances.

Fresh off recording his fifth straight win, while notching his lifetime best of 1:49 in his second most recent outing, Sparky Mark remains a top threat at the Preferred level on the WEG circuit and one of the hottest horses in harness racing.

“He sure isn’t flashy,” Austin laughed. “He’s a small horse with a big engine, but he’s from a great family of winners and the entire family has extreme desire to win and he’s no different.”

Sparky Mark winning on Dec. 3

The son of Astreos-Luckbealadytonite has recorded 11 wins from 15 starts this season, but faced a setback earlier this year.

“It was in the Cam Fella elimination,” Austin said. “There was a recall in the race and it was in the middle of March so the track was thawing out. We still had caulk on him and Mark MacDonald had to check him and he went sideways and cracked a p1 (pastern) bone in his right hind leg.”

Sparky Mark had two months of stall rest before returning to his daily routine on his road to recovery. The time off clearly served him well.

“You never know how well a horse like that is going to come back,” Austin said. “But, then again, he was pacing miles in (1):51 in the winter time last year, but you can’t expect a horse to be winning in (1):49 at this time of the year.”

With $293,590 in career earnings for owner/breeder Leo Thibodeau, Austin believes he hasn’t seen the best of Sparky Mark.

“He isn’t beating world champions at this time of the year, but he is beating some very nice horses." said the conditioner. "The other night, he had more left in the tank, but didn’t need to use it. If he stays on his game, he’s going to have a successful winter campaign.”

Another member of the Austin stable is Machleen, who will contest in her $50,000 Autumn Stakes final for freshman pacing fillies on Thursday. Ironically, her dam, Aileens Luck, is a half-sister to the dam of Sparky Mark.

The filly will have some big shoes to fill as Sparky Mark captured a pair of Autumn Stakes final’s both in 2009 and 2010.

Machleen, who resembles Sparky Mark in appearance, captured her elimination in 1:56 and will begin from post four for driver Chris Christoforou. The lightly raced daughter of Mach Three has earned $28,290 for Austin, who bred and owns the bay filly with Leo Thibodeau.

“She’s late maturing,” said Austin. “She’s shown quarters in :26-seconds, so I think she’s going to be a nice filly, especially next season. Coming into the final, she’s in good shape, but a lot will depend on the trip.”

Both horses are from the immediate family of Molly Can Do It ($890,582) and Jodys Cam ($575,179) and that is something Austin is quite fond of.

“I’ve had a great association with that family over the course of my career and that family produces winners. They all have determination and want to win. To me, that’s half the battle.”

The field for the $50,000 Autumn Stakes final will line up as follows:

1) Bruisers Sister
2) Mystical Liz
3) Shadys M Three
4) Machleen
5) Mia Seelster
6) The Prophet Mary
7) Golden Era
8) St Lads Morgan
9) Baubletina
10) Grins Little Flirt

Also, on Friday’s programme, 10 sophomore pacing fillies will contest
their $60,000 Autumn Stakes final.

The field will line up as follows:

1. Carly Hollywood
2. Fire Fox
3. Shadys Art
4. Machs Delicacy
5. Charolettes Maggie
6. Lucky Taryn
7. Highland Candy Bar
8. Lyons Puddin Pie
9. Missmachrts
10. Ground Shaker
AE. Medway Flashpoint

To view entries for Friday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Friday Entries - Woodbine Racetrack.

(with files from WEG)

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