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The Heart Of A Warrior


Published: July 14, 2010 7:13 pm ET

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He's driven his mounts to almost 5,200 wins and $89 million in purse earnings, so when Randy Waples says, "there are a lot of horses that make money, but they don't necessarily like to win, but he likes to win," it means the charge in question is legit.

Looking to defend his gutsy, determined victory in the 2009 Maple Leaf Trot, six-year-old San Pellegrino gelding San Pail will be taking part in Mohawk Racetrack's lone MLT elimination this Saturday in Campbellville, Ont.

The 2009 O'Brien Award winner as Canada's Older Trotting Horse of the Year has been steadily preparing for the MLT all season. After a break through the majority of this year's winter months, trainer Rod Hughes brought the $1.1 million earner back pari-mutuelly on April 5 at Woodbine Racetrack.

San Pail has gone postward in eight races this year. He has won six of those tilts and banked a cool $140,500. His fastest win of the season came in a June 8 Open Trot at Mohawk where he sizzled the oval with an open-length victory in 1:52.1.

After an uncharacteristic break in stride June 29, San Pail was forced to qualify last week in order to be able to contest the MLT elims.

"I think [he's coming to the elims] good," Waples said during an interview with the Woodbine Entertainment Group. "He was fighting some issues the week he made a break. His feet were a little bit sore. Rod's working on them. He didn't want to put him in there too early. He wanted to give him some extra time to work on them, so we decided to qualify him. The track wasn't very good, but he went good. He came a last quarter in :28 [seconds] flat and he wasn't all-out or anything. It was a good training mile for him, so I think he is coming into them [the elims] good."

2009 Maple leaf Trot - San Pail - 1:52.1

When asked what differences he has seen in San Pail from last year to this year, Waples said that he thinks the career winner of 28 races is a better horse that seems to have gotten stronger.

"His gait is better and his manners have gotten better," Waples explained. "He's just a really nice horse. He seems to be one of those horses that comes along that everyone wants to drive because he's one of those horses that makes you look good."

A trio of United States-based trotting starts is looking to take its best shot in this year's edition of the MLT. Lucky Jim, Enough Talk and Arch Madness each want the biggest piece of the more than $800,000 purse. The connections of Lucky Jim and Enough Talk have accepted byes into the rich final. Arch Madness will be contesting the elim, but it is probably Lucky Jim which wants a piece of San Pail the most. San Pail upended Lucky Jim during last year's final of the MLT, which went down as the S Js Photo gelding's only loss of the campaign.

When poised with the question of whether he is up for the challenge of holding off the power from south of the border, Waples came across as quietly confident, but he did state that many of the obvious racing factors will probably be playing a big role if such a showdown comes to fruition in the final.

"They are three really nice horses. I think he [San Pail] is on the same level as them," Waples said. "A lot of it is going to come down to post position, trip, and whether or not I do my job properly. It's going to come down to that. He gave them a good run for their money last year and I think he can do it again this year."

To view the draw for the MLT elim, click here.

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