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Odds On Amethyst: Hudon's Gem

Published: February 3, 2018 1:58 pm ET

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“Give me a year,” Pat Hudon told his partners when they teamed up to buy Odds On Amethyst.

In that time, the Muscle Hill gelding has developed into the gem of the Hudon stable, excelling among top trotters on the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) circuit and earning an O’Brien Award nomination for his 11-win 2017 season, one which saw him bank $232,110 for Hudon and partners Bill Cripps, Chuck Gazzola, and Adam Kean.

Certainly not a bad return on investment, considering he was purchased for $15,000 (U.S.) from Philadelphian Carly Roman in May of 2016.

“When I bought him, I told my partners ‘Give me a year,’” Hudon recounts. “If we get him to relax and work, we’re going to have a lot of fun with him. As it turned out, we did.”

After racing for Jimmy Takter in the winter of his four-year-old season, being shut down, and resurfacing at five for Roman and trainer Dagfin Henriksen, Hudon saw something in Odds On Amethyst he liked, even through the gait issues and lacklustre finishes that troubled him in the spring of 2016.

“He caught my eye at Woodbine in a couple qualifiers,” Hudon continues. “I offered $12,000, they said $15,000, I said ‘sold’. They said ‘$15,000 American,’ and I went ‘Ugh!’ It was good, though.”

“I always thought he was a good horse, and I told a couple people that, and he took off.”

After pressing, stalking, and circling his way through the lower and middle conditioned ranks over the next few months, Odds On Amethyst turned a corner—almost fittingly—in February of 2017. In an upper-level conditioned race at Woodbine, the then six-year-old closed ferociously in :27 to record a 1:53 mile, his fastest since a 1:52.3 Open win at the Meadowlands in his final start for Takter in March of 2015.

That 1:53 effort was followed up by a 1:54.1 win against just easier company and a further stretch of seven straight wins—six at the Preferred level—through the spring. Hudon accepted an invitation for his star trotter to race in the Maxie Lee Memorial at Harrah’s Philadelphia to tackle some of the continent’s best, but a break at the start distanced him from eventual winner Crazy Wow.

Upon returning to Canadian soil, Odds On Amethyst rebounded with a win in his second start back, but would struggle through the warmer summer months.

“In springtime, he kind of fell off the rails a little bit,” says Hudon. “I got his feet taken care of, and it didn’t help. I should have just backed off, knowing he wasn’t 100%. He was going backwards.”

Despite not performing at his full potential—and Hudon at the time unable to pin down the reason—Odds On Amethyst churned out minor cheques in top-level events at Mohawk, as well as a fourth-place finish in the Earl Rowe at Georgian and in his Maple Leaf Trot elimination. Once fall brought with it cooler weather, the gelding regrouped in earnest, winning by six lengths in 10-degree air on September 29. Since then, only a pair of extended breaks have kept him out of the top four, and he capped his 2017 season with a 1:53.1 Preferred win at Woodbine.

Midseason woes notwithstanding—something Hudon now can attribute to worms and parasites which arose in the summer months—Hudon and his partners have loved their ride with Odds On Amethyst so far. “They’re enjoying themselves,” the trainer-driver says. “We’ve had some ups and downs, but we’ve had a lot of ups right now.”

And while Odds On Amethyst’s biggest win may come at tonight’s O’Brien Awards, where he and Musical Rhythm comprise the Older Trotting Horse nominees, Hudon and company already looking forward to what 2018 has in store.

“He’s going to represent all year if he stays sound,” Hudon says. “He’s an athlete, and week in and week out, he’s looking for his next race. I drove a lot of horses for people, and there are horses that want to race and horses that just do it. He wants to do it, and they’re few and far between.”

As for the O’Brien nomination bestowed upon his prized trotter, the Western Canada native was admittedly caught off guard.

“I was like, ‘What?’” Hudon recounts of the moment he learned of Odds On Amethyst’s nomination. “I’m very honoured. I’m shocked, but more than happy about it. I’m proud because this horse looks as good as when he was winning at a top level. It’s a very humbling feeling.”

The 2017 O’Brien Awards are scheduled for Saturday, February 3 at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale Hotel and will feature an Academy Awards theme. The O'Briens will be hosted by Ken Middleton and Jason Portuondo, with Juno Award nominee Heather Bambrick singing the national anthems. The Marc Joseph Band, one of Toronto’s best event bands will be taking the stage after the awards presentations and provide dance music until 1:00 a.m.

Follow the latest updates on the O’Brien Awards on Standardbred Canada’s Facebook Event page and on the SC website. Standardbred Canada will also provide live updates on the event through its social media channels. For anyone tweeting or adding photos to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, please use the hashtag #obriens17.

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