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Irwin On His Bigtime Talent


Published: April 21, 2009 12:51 pm ET

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Stating that "confidence is not a problem" for his stable star, trainer and owner Gord Irwin also speaks confidently about the abilities of open class pacer Bigtime Ball.

Irwin spent the winter in Florida at the Southern Oaks Training Center with Bigtime Ball and two-year-old filly Theta Blue Chip, and caught up with Trot Insider after a rain-drenched commute back to Ontario.

"Bigtime Ball had a really good winter," commented Irwin. "We got two qualifiers into him before coming back home and he was well within himself each time."

The second of those two qualifiers came last Wednesday in a slick 1:52, capably handled by driver Leonard Hill.

"He's a good, good horse and he's done everything we've asked of him," said Irwin. "I think he'll be a better horse than he was at four. He's grown and he's stronger than he was last year."

Last year's campaign saw the 2007 O'Brien Award nominee win just three of 19 starts, but the Presidential Ball - Keystone Trinidad gelding finished in the top three 12 times, banked $143,060 and grabbed a 1:49.1 speed badge. In 2009, Irwin will again concentrate on campaigning Bigtime Ball in Ontario.

"We've paid him up into the Classic Series, the Canadian Pacing Derby, the Masters Series and the Gold Cup at Woodbine. It's going to be a tough group, very competitive.

"As in years past I'll be working closely with driver Paul MacDonell, and if Paul's not available to drive I'll look forward to having Roger Mayotte back."

Irwin and MacDonell were the combination that saw one of this country's best pacing fillies - the now-retired sibling to Bigtime Ball, Invitro - connect for so many victories.

"No horse will ever replace her," said Irwin about the double millionairess. "We still have her. There weren't any serious sale offers for her so we're breeding her."

The stallion of choice: none other than another horse that MacDonell drove, the incomparable Somebeachsomewhere.

"She's enjoying retirement at Tara Hills with one of Dave Heffering's mares," Irwin told Trot Insider. "I just spoke to Dave and she'll be bred this week."

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