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Ryder: "I Think He Can Trot In 1:51"

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Published: July 27, 2011 2:51 pm ET

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This could be the year for surprises in the $1.5 million Hambletonian. The connections of 18 colts entered the fray on Tuesday with only 10 guaranteed a spot in the final on August 6. Trainer Chris Ryder could be that 'Why Not Me?' guy when he sends out the precocious Charlie De Vie in one of the classic's two eliminations on Saturday at Meadowlands Racetrack.

For Ryder, who has done quite well with some aged trotters over his years in the U.S., this will be his first opportunity at the sport's most coveted prize.

"This would be a very big deal to me," he said of winning the race, and unlike many first-timers, Ryder appears more confident than nervous. Perhaps that's because he has a legitimate entry in Charlie De Vie. "We've been fighting to get this horse healthy over the last few weeks. He popped a curb (inflammation of the hock) and then he cut himself in a race."

To date, Charlie De Vie has suffered some unfortunate racing luck. In his Earl Beal elimination, he appeared on his way to a major upset of division leader Dejarmbro, only to break stride on the lead on the final turn. "I definitely think he was going to win that night," Ryder noted, "but he started interfering with himself and went offstride."

The most recent disappointment came in the Stanley Dancer two weeks ago at the Meadowlands when leading driver Tim Tetrick found himself far back of the leaders off soft fractions. Charlie De Vie was full of trot finishing, but made a break late while passing horses.

"Now that the curb has healed, I'm able to put the kind of shoes on him I've always wanted to," Ryder said. "I'm about 99 per cent sure I'll race him without shoes (barefoot) behind on Saturday."

Although Charlie De Vie has been victorious on the front end, Ryder believes he's much better at following horses.

Ryder picked up the Joie De Vie Farms (Antoinette Nigito) owned colt for his sophomore season after conditioner Oyvind Hegdal broke and trained the son of Yankee Glide--Knickers through his two-year-old campaign. Although Charlie De Vie only won once as a juvenile, he did race well enough to qualify and earn a cheque in the $500,000 final of the Peter Haughton Memorial.

Charlie De Vie has a much better slate this year for Ryder, with five wins from seven seasonal starts. He has twice won in 1:54 and certainly appeared on his way to a 1:53 mile before breaking in the Earl Beal, Jr.

Ryder is certainly wary of the competition, and concerned about top colts Manofmanymissions, Chapter Seven and Blue Porsche. Erv Miller's Manofmanymissions, last year's Breeders Crown champion and most recently an impressive winner in the Stanley Dancer, has exhibited world-class speed, but has also appeared to be difficult to drive.

The Linda Toscano-trained Chapter Seven got behind in training and only recently has shown the kind of talent he indicated as a freshman.

Trainer Blair Burgess, who captured the Hambletonian in 2003 with Amigo Hall and 2006 with Glidemaster, is always a threat. He enters the race with a colt from Glidemaster's first crop named Blue Porsche. Undefeated as a three-year-old, Blue Porsche last raced on June 18 when he won the Goodtimes Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack.

While Ryder respects his rivals, he believes his colt is as fast as any. "I think he can trot in 1:51," he boldly stated.

Certainly, Charlie De Vie has the look of a champion with an equally impressive pedigree. He's a son of Yankee Glide, the stallion that has already produced the aforementioned Hambo champ Glidemaster. Yankee Glide also produced Ryder's premier trotting mare Mystical Sunshine. On his maternal side, Charlie De Vie's third dam was the great Ima Lula, a mare Duncan MacDonald campaigned to greatness in Free-For-All races during the Meadowlands' infancy in the late '70s.

The luck of the draw has placed Charlie De Vie in Post 8 in Saturday's second elimination, to the right flank of pre-Hambo favourite Manofmanymissions. No one would be surprised to see the two battling it out in the stretch come Hambletonian Day.

(Hambletonian Society)

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