Desperate Man Primed For More Stateside Success

Desperate Man
Published: February 25, 2024 11:00 am EST

Former Horse of the Year and fan favourite Desperate Man is approaching his return to action stateside, where he excelled at the end of his 2023 campaign.

After a successful late season stint racing at Yonkers Raceway, Desperate Man will look to pick up where he left off for owner/trainer Kathy Cecchin.

The Arthur, Ont. horsewoman shipped the star pacer stateside to trainers Travis and Alaina Alexander last year for a fall campaign at Yonkers, where he hit the board in all seven of his starts in New York, with five of those being winning efforts.

When the Yonkers meet ended in December, Desperate Man enjoyed a planned break before resuming training. Instead of returning to the Arthur base of operations where Cecchin manages her stable along with family, Desperate Man headed to Florida with the Alexander stable.

“Big guy is good -- fat and saucy!” Cecchin said of the six-year-old career winner of more than $1.2 million. “We would have loved to see him, but it didn't make sense to bring home to the cold and limited turn out in Arthur. Alaina sends me lots of videos and he has been loving it there, sporting a full body clip and training back on the strip, living the life!”

Desperate Man, the 2021 Horse of the Year following a standout sophomore season in which he won the North America Cup in career-best 1:49.3 at Woodbine Mohawk Park, has put together a career record reading 16-9-7 from 55 starts.

Prior to heading to Yonkers, Desperate Man mainly raced at Mohawk, but the gelded son of Little Brown Jug champ Shadow Play had shown an affinity for half-mile track racing, earning three wins at Grand River Raceway, including a 1:50.1 all-age track record. As a four-year-old, he won his Charles Juravinski Memorial Cup elimination at Flamboro Downs and finished a close second in a 1:49 Canadian record mile in the final.

“The decision to send him was hard, but Travis and Alaina have been so awesome, as well as all their crew,” said Cecchin. “They know he is very precious and quite spoiled. We knew how great they would take [care] of him and, of course, they have!

“He was really struggling at Mohawk [last year] and just did not seem to have that sprint speed at the end of the mile that he needed to have. He just loved racing at Grand River and we thought maybe racing on the half was just better suited to his current form.”

Among his five Yonkers wins, Desperate Man bested Open pacers in a pair of 1:51.3 victories and was just nosed out after an overland journey in a 1:50.4 mile to cap his 2023 campaign. He finished the season just shy of the six-figure earnings mark for the first time in his career, but did post a career-high eight wins overall, accounting for half of his lifetime victories.

“They have done such an amazing job with him and we were beyond thrilled with his efforts there,” said Cecchin. “It's a very tough group, so we were super proud of him.”

After wintering in Florida with the Alexanders, Desperate Man will remain in their care for the foreseeable future and is expected to qualify this Wednesday, Feb. 28 at Pocono Downs with some Grand Circuit racing on his radar.

“We have made him eligible to the Borgata, but whether he races in it will totally be up to Travis,” said Cecchin of the multi-leg Yonkers series that begins on March 18.

“The break was mentally good for him,” said Travis Alexander. “He’s been vicious. I expect him to be better than he was last fall.”

Video of Desperate Man (first-up) training with the Alexander stable's 'A team' in Florida on Thursday, Feb. 22 can be viewed below.

(Standardbred Canada)

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