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‘Nacho’ Is A Screamer

Published: July 2, 2015 8:21 pm ET

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Cruzado Dela Noche is not afraid to announce his arrival when he enters a barn. He is making his presence known on the racetrack as well.

The Nancy Johansson-trained Cruzado Dela Noche, known around the stable as ‘Nacho,’ was among last week’s three elimination winners for Saturday’s $500,000 Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial for three-year-old male trotters at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. He won by 2-1/4 lengths over Southwind Mozart in 1:53.3, which was the fastest of the divisions, over a sloppy track.

Cruzado Dela Noche and driver David Miller will start the final from post two and are 4-1 on the morning line. Uncle Lasse, who won his elimination by a head over Crazy Wow in 1:54 and is unbeaten in four races this season, is the 5-2 favourite. He will start from post four with Brett Miller driving for trainer Jimmy Takter.

Wicker Hanover, who captured the remaining elimination by a half-length over Pinkman in 1:54.1, is 6-1 from post six with Andy McCarthy driving for trainer Noel Daley. Pinkman, who was the 2014 Dan Patch Award winner for best two-year-old male trotter and was undefeated in three starts this season prior to his Beal elim, is the 3-1 second choice from post one. Yannick Gingras will drive the Takter trainee.

Cruzado Dela Noche has won two of five races this year and finished off the board only once. For his career, he has won five of 16 starts and earned $219,122 for owner Anders Strom’s Courant A B.

“You can’t help but like him,” Johansson said. “He’s got the best personality, best attitude. You bring him in the barn and he lets you know he’s there. He screams at the top of his lungs. If you’ve got your back to him and hear him coming you’d think it’s a 17-hand big stallion walking in the barn, and you turn around and it’s little Nacho. But he’s a really happy good feeling colt.”

Last year, Cruzado Dela Noche won a division of the International Stallion Stakes in 1:53.4 at Lexington’s Red Mile. He finished third in the Peter Haughton Memorial, behind fellow Beal finalists Centurion ATM and Uncle Lasse, and also in the Matron Stakes.

“You couldn’t ask for a more honest little horse,” Johansson said. “He puts his heart out on the track every time; he just tries so hard. But saying that, he does have some ability too. He might be the quickest one of the horses in the race. Some might be a little stronger and can carry their speed longer, but as far as quickness goes, he’s got extreme quick raw speed.

“He trotted in (1):51.4 this year at The Meadows (finishing second to Uncle Lasse in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes division) so he’s no slouch.”

In his Beal elimination, Cruzado Dela Noche sat in fourth place until the field was midway up the backstretch, at which point a first-over attack carried the colt to the lead on the final turn. From there, he drew clear to win by 2-1/4 lengths.

“I think he raced extremely well last week,” Johansson said. “He got away a little bit back and came first up and put the leader away and was well in hand. David never pulled his earplugs or really asked him to go. I think he’s coming into this race as sharp as he could be for it.

“And he drew well, which always helps too. Maybe he can get away a little closer than what he has in his other races this year. Maybe if he can sit a little closer it will help. It’s a speed track so it’s hard to make up any ground if you’re sitting too far back anyhow.”

Cruzado Dela Noche is eligible to the Stanley Dancer Memorial (July 18) and Zweig Memorial (July 26) leading up to the $1 million Hambletonian on Aug. 8 at the Meadowlands.

“I think he’s one of the players,” Johansson said. “Obviously my dad (Takter) has a very nice group of three-year-olds. I thought Wicker Hanover raced very well last week and he’s a nice horse too. It’s maybe more of an even year than what we’ve had in the past. There isn’t really one standout. I don’t think there’s one that we want to make the division leader yet because I think anybody could kind of be that right now.”

Saturday’s card at Pocono also includes the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers, $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for three-year-old male pacers, $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for three-year-old female pacers, and $75,000 Sun Invitational for older trotters.


This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.


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