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Il Villaggio Primed For MLT Final

_08 Il Villaggiogood.jpg

Published: July 18, 2011 6:35 pm ET

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Il Villaggio may not be the most experienced trotter in this Saturday’s Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk Racetrack, but one thing is certain, he has speed.

The Blair Burgess pupil is the youngest trotter in field at four, but he has equaled the nation’s fastest trotting mile of the season with a 1:51.4 performance last Tuesday. It’s a record Il Villaggio shares with fellow Maple Leaf Trot starter San Pail, who took the mark on July 5.

In the 7-1/2 length victory, Il Villaggio also equaled the Mohawk track record as well as the Canadian record for older trotting horses, which was set last August by Triumphant Caviar, another trotter who will be in the $730,000 final.

“That race didn’t take anything out of him,” Burgess explained. “We left plenty in the tank. It sharpened him up and stretched him out a bit for the [Maple Leaf Trot]. We really hadn’t had an opportunity yet this year to get him stretched out like that and use the speed that he does have. That was his first opportunity to trot along like he can.”

The top two-year-old trotting colt of 2009 is in tip-top shape going into the rich final and it might have to do with the unique training technique that Burgess uses.

Currently the bay gets most of his exercise under a saddle rather than in a jog cart and the son of Yankee Glide-Dance To Market prefers it that way.

“He easily gets bored with the regular routine,” said Burgess. “He’s not really happy about just jogging day to day. I can tell he doesn’t because the first trip warming up on race nights he spends about the first entire lap trying to kick me out of the jog cart.”

The veteran conditioner puts a saddle on many of his older trotters and will ride them as he feels it has added benefits.

“It breaks up the routine a little bit,” the Campbellville, Ont. resident explained. “Also, it seems to strengthen them up a bit behind too, gives variety and works different muscles.”

The O’Brien Award winning trainer believes Il Villaggio doesn’t have the same credentials that Arch Madness, San Pail and Lucky Jim have, but he is going into the Maple Leaf Trot in top form, with the best possible race behind him.

“We’ll just cross our fingers,” said Burgess.

Il Villaggio will leave from post one when the classy aged trotters line up behind the gate this Saturday for the 2011 edition of the classic.

First race post time is 7:10 p.m.


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