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Western Vintage Looking To Strike

Published: July 31, 2014 1:41 pm ET

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If all the pieces fall into place, the connections of Western Vintage could be sipping champagne on Saturday.

The son of Western Ideal has been sidelined since late June and will make his return to the races in the $225,000 Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic (Race 4) this Saturday (August 2) during the Meadowlands Racetrack’s 15-race Hambletonian Day program.

The New Jersey Classic and its filly companion event, the $100,000 Thomas D’Altrui Miss New Jersey for fillies, are restricted to New Jersey-sired three-year-old pacers. Both events are sponsored by the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey.

In a well-balanced field, Western Vintage has been rated as the 5-2 second choice on the morning line (Doo Wop Hanover is 9-5) and will start from Post 2 with Brian Sears at the lines.

Last season, Western Vintage won five of eight races and earned $316,838. His victories included the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship for two-year-old pacing colts and a division of the Bluegrass Stakes at the Red Mile. He finished second in the $648,850 Metro Pace at Mohawk Racetrack.

Western Vintage was purchased for only $7,000 at the 2012 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. He was seen as a potential divisional star at three after his solid freshman campaign. Health issues, however, detoured Western Vintage after four starts this spring.

“We gave him a break after the Hempt (on June 21) for a couple of reasons,” said Perry Soderberg, the colt’s co-owner. “One, because he had some really tough races up to that point; and two, his blood work wasn't perfect, so we needed some time to improve that. It is a long year and another year after this one, so we want to take care of the horse.”

Western Vintage opened his 2014 campaign with a New Jersey Sire Stakes win in 1:49.4 on May 17 at the Meadowlands. One week later he was was second to Doo Wop Hanover in the $100,000 final. He was then taken on the road to Mohawk Racetrack for the North America Cup eliminations (where he finished fourth) and to Pocono Downs for the Hempt, where he finished eighth.

Trainer Nancy Johansson qualified Western Vintage twice in July, including a 1:50.3, five-and-a-half-length victory on July 19 for new driver Brian Sears.

“Well, Yannick (Gingras, who had previously driven the colt) has been great, but he has (Jimmy) Takter’s and (Ron) Burke’s horses to choose from down the road, and they have been better than mine so far this year,” Soderberg explained. “I know Brian has JK Endofanera and other options as well, but I am thankful that he wants to drive him now.

“All in all, I thought it was time to get the horse used to different drivers,” Soderberg added. “He has been a bit tricky to drive, but he better get used to different drivers; that’s how this business works.”

Swedish-born Soderberg, who has been evaluating horses since 1986, usually picks out yearlings for others, primarily trainer Jimmy Takter and his owners. Although, when no one wanted Western Vintage, he purchased the colt for himself for $7,000. Marvin Katz of Toronto bought an interest last October.

With $53,890 earned this year, Western Vintage now has a career bankroll of $370,728.

“Western Vintage is coming in to this race in good shape,” said Soderberg. “He qualified well, and I think he is the type of horse that can race good after a break.”

First-race post time on Saturday is 12 noon and the gates will open at 10 a.m. Admission is $5.

The $1 million Hambletonian (Race 13), the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks (Race 12) and the $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial Trot will be featured on the live television broadcast from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. The program will be hosted by Gary Seibel, Dave Brower and Justin Horowitz.

$225,000 ANTHONY ABBATIELLO NEW JERSEY CLASSIC

1 – Doo Wop Hanover - Yannick Gingras – 9-5
2 – Western Vintage – Brian Sears – 5-2
3 – Rockeyed Optimist – Matt Kakaley – 20-1
4 – Buckwacker – David Miller – 9-2
5 – Sweet Rock – Brett Miller – 20-1
6 – Dancin Hill – Scott Zeron – 10-1
7 – Rock Out – Tim Tetrick – 15-1
8 – Card Shock – George Brennan – 20-1
9 – Beat The Drum – Ron Pierce – 6-1
10 – Rocknroll Reality – Corey Callahan – 12-1

$100,000 THOMAS D’ALTRUI MISS NEW JERSEY

1 – Ideal Helen – Marcus Miller – 10-1
2 – Act Now – Brian Sears – 3-1
3 – Gettingreadytoroll – Yannick Gingras – 2-1
4 – My Lady Day – David Miller – 15-1
5 – Surfside Sexy – Ron Pierce – 20-1
6 – Cut A Deal – George Brennan – 20-1
7 – Blixtra – Ake Svanstedt – 9-2
8 – Highland Rockstar – Mike Lachance – 20-1
9 – Rockingcam Park – Tim Tetrick – 8-1
10 – Kate Cant Wait – Corey Callahan – 6-1

(SBOANJ)


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