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Ryder 'Thrilled' With Bettors Wish

Published: May 16, 2020 11:55 am ET

Last Comment: May 19, 2020 12:36 pm ET | 3 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

With racing's return emerging on the horizon, Chris Ryder could not be more pleased with how Bettors Wish is rounding into form in preparation for his four-year-old campaign.

"You're kind of asking the wrong guy; I'm a little biased!" Ryder told Trot Insider when asked about how the son of Bettors Delight has developed over the extended hiatus after a dynamite sophomore campaign — including 13 wins and six runner-up finishes in 19 starts and over $1.7 million in purses — earned him a Dan Patch Award in the "glamour boys" division last year.

"I'm thrilled with the horse — the way he's training, the way he looks, the way he's acting. He couldn't be doing any better."

While Bettors Wish hasn't faced competition since his runner-up finish to Always A Prince in the TVG Open at The Meadowlands on Nov. 23, he has remained actively in training through the winter — in addition to his breeding duties at Walnridge Equine Clinic four mornings a week.

"He's doing tremendous," Ryder, who co-owns Bettors Wish with Bella Racing Ltd., Fair Island Farm and Bettors Wish Partners, said. "He's getting the mares in foal and his manner is impeccable. His fertility is good; it's up from what was expected. It's turned out to be a good year to be breeding, with the delay in racing.

"Anyway, we didn't have him at the races because I knew he would be breeding. And now some of those races have dropped by the wayside."

The Prix d'Été has been wiped off the calendar altogether and the Confederation Cup (originally slated for tomorrow -- May 17) has been postponed until the fall. And with another one of Ryder's early-season targets for Bettors Wish — the Graduate Series — hanging in uncertainty, the New Zealand expat is bracing for a bit of a conundrum should the Woodbine Mohawk Park preliminary for June be contested as scheduled.

"Suppose they have the Graduate on June 6," Ryder said. "Here I am, I've got nobody qualified. What do I do? Do I have to go to Canada to qualify?"

While dodgy logistics may be among Ryder's short-term concerns, he ultimately is looking for a big year from his star pupil:

"I am very confident, very happy with him. He's thickened up a lot...he's a man now. I think at the end of his two-year-old year, his improvement from two to three was tremendous. If he does that from three to four, what am I going to have?"

One major plus for Bettors Wish this year: he won't have to chase the shadows of Captain Crunch, who defeated him in the Pepsi North America Cup and Cane Pace last season. But that notwithstanding, Ryder is convinced that his champion won't have any issues pulling double duty once harness racing returns.

"I kind of feel that he's jumped from three to four similarly to what he did from two to three. It'll be interesting to get racing.

"We've got him staked up and we're 90 per cent ready," Ryder continued. "And I've got to make a decision here pretty soon if they're going to race in Canada. It'd be a shame to miss stakes races, but on the other hand, I can't race him until he's completely prepared. It's not like he's just another horse."

Another top-calibre Ryder trainee slated to make the jump from three to four is Henderson Farms and Robert Mondillo's Stonebridge Soul, but she'll be a bit slower into action after a winter spell.

"It turns out that when the shutdown first started, we gave Stonebridge Soul some time off, so she won't be ready for maybe a month," Ryder indicated. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere reeled off wins in the James Lynch Memorial, Mistletoe Shalee and Adioo Volo last year, and finished third behind Warrawee Ubeaut in the Breeders Crown.

Needless to say, the jump to the older distaff pacing ranks is mighty tough with the likes of Shartin N and Caviart Ally heading the division, but Ryder's plan for Stonebridge Soul is to stay just off them while still facing strong competition week in and week out:

"She's got a tough group to come back against. It's not going to be easy. We were kind of expecting her to go to Yonkers and the Opens at Chester, Pocono and The Meadowlands."

With tracks in Ontario and across the midwestern United States readying for spectator-free racing in the coming weeks, horsepeople on the east coast are itching to return as well -- and are crafting their own strategies to convince government officials that they can do so safely.

"The horsemen's association here has, in cooperation with the racing commission and Rutgers University's health department, put out an extensive protocol and details on how to handle racing at The Meadowlands," Ryder said, "From taking temperatures of people coming in, restricting the number of people in the paddock, and keeping the Ryder stable in one spot and the Burke stable in another spot instead of commingling. I think it's a good idea for the paddock situation to have each stable in its own area. That's all been spelled out fairly well to the governor's office, so we're hoping to get something positive."

May 19, 2020 - 12:36 pmTrevor, I'm expecting that

Mike Mobley SAID...

Trevor, I'm expecting that we'll see Bettors Wish race for the first time in 2020 in The Graduate, at Tioga, on 6/14. There's a leg of the Graduate scheduled for 6/6 at Mohawk, which surprisingly still hasn't been postponed (although I'm sure that it will be). He's also eligible for The Roll With Joe, also scheduled for 6/14 at Tioga. He raced against older horses in his final start of 2019, (in The TVG) and, of course, finished 2nd!

May 18, 2020 - 12:06 pmMike Mobley Thats an

Mike Mobley

Thats an interesting stat and being a math person I love it. You are almost certainly guaranteed to be correct too as those are most of the major races to not win. He was in my opinion the best 3 year old last year though as he was always right there in contention and never really had a bad race.

Hard to believe too that he was able to lead earnings not winning any of those but that shows how much quality competition there was as the other horses weren't winning multiple of these events and not finishing as high on the board in the others. The fact there were so many 3 year old top performers makes this guys consistency that much better and stronger.

I can't wait to see some of these horses return as 4 year olds and older for the ones that do. Not having dominant stars and better purses (if they can get going) for the 4 year olds means better racing. The likes of some of these horses from Hurricane Kingcole and Put On A Show etc may be something if they blossom as 4 year olds or older as the pedigree is definitely there for some of them.

May 16, 2020 - 12:36 pmBettors Wish probably holds

Mike Mobley SAID...

Bettors Wish probably holds the dubious distinction of being the only horse in history that led all 3yo pacing colts and geldings in seasonal earnings, even though he did NOT win The Jug, The Cane, The Messenger, The Meadowlands Pace, The North American Cup, OR the Breeders Crown!! He was ineligible for The Jug, and was the runner up in everything else!

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