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Bax In Tough With Busy Trotter

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Published: July 21, 2010 3:38 pm ET

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After failing to make the final of last year’s Maple Leaf Trot with millionaire Define The World, veteran trainer John Bax is hoping a little luck will be on his side this time around.

Define The World battled with the Open trotters on the WEG circuit finishing first or second in his last six efforts before traveling oversees to take on Europe’s best in the Elitlopp. He finished third in the Oslo Grand Prix in Norway and fifth in his Elitlopp elimination in Sweden.

Following his trip to Sweden and one month away from the track, Define The World headed to Georgian Downs for the Masters Series eliminations on Canada Day to defend his title in that event. The five-year-old son of Duke Of York-Venice Holiday, who is owned and bred by Al Libfeld of Pickering, ON, finished sixth and did not qualify for the final, but later drew in off the also eligible list due to the scratch of elimination winner Mapleleaf Buddy.

“I thought starting him in the Masters elimination and final would get him tight enough [for the Maple Leaf Trot],” said Bax in an interview with WEG’s media department. “As luck would have it, in the elimination he couldn’t get a hold of the track at Georgian -- it was afternoon racing. I put him in to qualify here [at Mohawk] the next Friday and he qualified good. Then the next day I found out I drew in and got the rail. It was pretty hard to turn down. He finished second [to Misterizi] and raced real well. He got tortured a little bit during the first quarter [in :26.4] so I was happy with the way he raced.”

The next stop for the former O’Brien Award winner was his Maple Leaf Trot elimination last Saturday at Mohawk. He finished fourth off a pocket trip behind 1:52.3 winner San Pail, the defending Maple Leaf Trot champion.

“He didn’t finish up like I thought he should and we scoped him afterwards," explained Bax. "His throat was a really constricted so the allergies are bothering him right now.”

When asked if his pupil is the same horse he was before his trip overseas, Bax said, “Well yes and no. I think everything about him is the same except for I geared him towards the Elitlopp so after the Elitlopp I brought him home and kind of babied him. I gave him time and it’s hard to wind him back up again.”

Bax notes that making back-to-back starts in the qualifier and Masters final may have weakened his immune system a little bit.

“It might have factored in a little bit and maybe it caught up with him but he’s gone two trips before in one day so two trips in two days shouldn’t be so bad.”

Aside from his allergies, Define The World will have to overcome another obstacle in order to take the 2010 Maple Leaf Trot title. The bay gelding has drawn the outside Post 10 amidst a competitive field of divisional heavy-weights including millionaires San Pail, Armbro Chronicle, Lucky Jim and Enough Talk.

“Well I’ve got to hope there’s some fools out there that are a little tough on the front end,” laughed Bax. “Out of the 10-hole you just got to get lucky. He’s competitive and I think he’ll put on a good show but realistically any cheque would be nice.”

Define The World’s regular reinsman, 2008 O’Brien Award winner Paul MacDonell, will be in the bike for Race 7 (post time 9:45 p.m.), but Bax says the pressure lies with the trainer to have his horse ready to go.

“It’s not up to him, it’s up to me to have him right so Paul will drive whatever he’s got.”

Fans are also reminded that doors open at 5 p.m. on Saturday with a free autograph signing with Toronto Maple Leaf’s alumni Wendel Clark at 5:30 p.m.

A betting seminar will also be on hand at 6:30 p.m. hosted by Greg Blanchard and special guest Peter Kleinhans.

The $75,000 guaranteed early Pick 4 is also scheduled for Saturday night as well as the Maple Leaf Trot being televised from 9 till 11 p.m. on The Score. First race post time is 7:30 p.m.

To view the entries for Saturday's stakes-filled program, click here.

(With files from WEG)


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