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McClure On First 'Big M' Win, Southwind Vavoom

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Published: March 21, 2011 11:16 am ET

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Sometimes racing luck comes by not racing.

On March 17, Southwind Vavoom won his second-round division of the Horse & Groom series for older trotters at Meadowlands Racetrack, thanks in part to an unexpected respite a week earlier. The Meadowlands was forced to postpone the series’ second leg because of heavy rain March 10, which gave Southwind Vavoom, who arrived from Ontario by way of Florida’s Pompano Park, extra time to get accustomed to his new surroundings.

“He has a little trouble moving,” said Bob McClure, the horse’s 20-year-old driver, and son of trainer Lormer McClure. “When he shipped to the Meadowlands, he wasn’t a hundred percent the first week we raced (and finished third). He didn’t have a lot of pop in the stretch. I knew the one week they cancelled could only do him good because it just gave him time.”

Southwind Vavoom has won four of eight races this year and earned $30,260. He was winless in his first four starts at Pompano Park, dating to last December, but reeled off three wins in a row before heading to the 'Big M.' The last of those Pompano victories came in 1:52.4, which set the track record.

“This year he’s been awesome,” McClure said. “When he first got to Pompano he didn’t adjust a hundred per cent for a few weeks. Then all of a sudden he came around. We probably moved him (to New Jersey) just after he got adjusted (to Florida).”

Southwind Vavoom, owned by McClure’s grandfather, John, and his father, Lormer, has won 15 of 27 career races and earned $142,817. He has finished worse than third just five times.

Purchased for $15,000 as a yearling at the Standardbred Horse Sale, then sold to his current connections for $3,700 at the 2008 Garden State South Florida Mixed Sale, the gelding is a son of Self Possessed out of the mare Vie Agra Works. His mother is a half sister to multiple-stakes-winners Soulful Heart, Donerail and Gramola.

Southwind Vavoom was unraced as a two-year-old and limited to six starts at three because of a tendon injury.

“He was really big and growthy at two, so we shut him down,” McClure said. “But dad thought from day one that he was really good. I remember him calling me after the first few days of him jogging and saying this was an amazing horse.”

McClure drove Southwind Vavoom in all of the horse’s starts at three. In his first race, the horse was sent off at odds of 48-1 and finished second, beaten by a half length, in 1:56.1 at Mohawk Racetrack.

“When I tipped him out -- I was just young, but I could feel it -- he got out of that hole and just launched forward,” McClure said. “Ever since then, we’ve been fairly aware of what we had.”

McClure was thrilled to get to drive Southwind Vavoom at the Meadowlands. To win at the track was even better.

“I never thought I’d get there yet,” McClure said. “It was briefly talked about that I would go down and drive him, but I never took it seriously. When he got to Florida and wasn’t racing that great, I figured maybe we wouldn’t go to the Meadowlands.

“I’m just really lucky to have a horse like that to drive; not many 20-year-olds have that opportunity. I’m really thrilled my grandfather let me go down to drive him and I’m glad my dad could be there for it. It was just a really awesome feeling to be able to drive at the Meadowlands -- and to be able to win at the Meadowlands.”

McClure has never doubted that he wanted a career in harness racing as a driver. He has won 57 races so far in his career, which sees him breaking into the sport at the same time as other young guns in Canada like Scott Zeron and Doug McNair.

“From the word 'go' I always wanted to be a driver,” McClure said. “I’m trying to be a fulltime driver in Ontario, and so far it’s going OK. Unfortunately, I got born into a tough bunch. Doug McNair and Scott Zeron are very talented drivers. They’re both very intelligent drivers. It’s tough to drive against them, but it’s easy to learn good things from them.”

As for the final of the Horse & Groom, McClure likes his chances. Southwind Vavoom won by a head over favourite Dont Know Chip in his race last week, finishing in 1:54.3. In the opening round, he was third from post nine behind Affirmed Action and Arriba Amigo.

“The first week we got beat by two good horses,” McClure said. “I think (Affirmed Action) is probably the horse to beat. But the week he beat us we weren’t a hundred per cent and he rode our back the whole way. We got stung out of the gate. I think my horse has gone two tough trips in a row and has come through it.

“I think if we get a good trip we’ve got as good a shot as anybody.”


This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit ustrotting.com.


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