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New Connections For American Mercury

Published: May 8, 2020 11:44 am ET

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American Mercury knocked off some of harness racing's top three-year-olds in 2019 and his new connections are hopeful that the pacer can once again compete at the top level of the sport once racing resumes in 2020.

American Mercury was sold online earlier this year, just before the industry shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. His new owners are Eric Cherry's Let It Ride Stables Inc. and Dana Parham's Bottom Line Racing LLC.

“I bought him on onGait, and the original plan was to basically race him against most of the four-year-olds and pick a couple of races against the older horses,” Cherry told Trot Insider. “We [Cherry and partner Dana Parham] watched him during the year racing against Bettors Wish, and when he came up for sale we just thought that he would be a good buy. We thought for the long term he would be a good horse for our stable.”

The four-year-old son of American Ideal-Tessa Hanover possesses an impressive resume that reads 10 wins from 25 lifetime starts, a race record of 1:49.3 and a bankroll that is soon to top $750,000. Ross Croghan will train.

“We’ll see how we do on the Grand Circuit, but we have a fallback position and part of it was to be able to race him at Yonkers,” added Cherry. “He beat Bettors Wish by a head in the Messenger, and basically it was the first time I noticed him. When he came up for sale we just figured we’d step up and take a shot.”

The new recruit isn’t the only performer Cherry is anxious to see back on the track. He’s also stoked to see his talented homebred pacing filly New Year take over where she left off following a productive rookie campaign.

“Nothing is more fulfilling to me than have one of my good mares produce a stake winner. Like when Drop The Ball had New Year,” said Cherry when reflecting on the joy it brings him to see his homebreds excelling on the track. “I’m expecting big things from her this year, I’m hoping.”

The three-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Drop The Ball racked up four wins as a two-year-old in six starts while earning a lifetime mark of 1:50.3 in Lexington and banking just north of $150,000.

“She’ll be given the opportunity to show what she has,” said Cherry. “She only had six starts last year, and every one of her starts she was first-over -- and she lived to tell about it. She’s coming back super, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed with her.”

Horse racing runs deep in the soul of Cherry, and despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted on people all over the world he took a glass-half-full view of how racing has been affected and could improve going forward.

“Who knows what’s going to happen? We’re in a unique position,” Cherry claimed. “One benefit that might come from this is that everyone sees how dependent we are on slot revenue and I think hopefully this will be a stimulus. I think it can help us make our game more updated and interesting for people on the outside. And hopefully we won’t have to rely on slot money as much.

“In New York I don’t know what is going to happen with funding even if they open racetracks without the casinos,” he added. “What happens there? I think they will open them, but we still need to do something to change the rules and change the game. People in it love it and know how great it is, but we’re missing generations.”

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