After a disappointing performance in his Hambletonian elimination on Saturday night at the Meadowlands Racetrack, trainer and part-owner Jeff Gillis told Trot Insider that his pupil didn’t seem to be himself the other night
In the second of three eliminations, Federal Flex was on top by the half, but the Muscles Yankee-Scully Fbi colt uncharacteristically faded to fourth in the stretch as Symphonic Hanover pulled off the upset.
Hambletonian Elim #2
“We were obviously disappointed with his performance,” Gillis told Trot Insider. “Obviously he wasn’t himself, but we’re addressing that and we expect him to be better.”
With the top three finishers in each elimination advancing to the final, Federal Flex, the top fourth-place money earner ($840,643 Cdn), still managed to secure himself a spot in the $1.5 million Hambletonian. Canada’s Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year earned his biggest paychecks with wins in the Champlain Stakes and Valley Victory and a third-place finish in the Breeders Crown at two, and victories in the Goodtimes Trot and Stanley Dancer Memorial this season.
Previously, Federal Flex suffered a small ulcer on his palate following the Goodtimes, but Gillis says his colt responded well to treatment and that issue was cleared up going into the Stanley Dancer.
“We’re really still running some tests and trying to get to the bottom of it, but that doesn’t seem to be the problem. We have struggled a little bit with the humidity down here and we’re not sure how much of a factor that played.
“He seems bright and alert [now] and we’re confident we can have him better for Saturday,” adds Gillis. “And if he’s not, if we don’t feel that he will be, we won’t be racing him.”
Gillis shares ownership of the bay as part of the Federal Flex Stable with fellow Ontario residents Ken Henwood, Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz.
"He hasn't been sick in a month, but there's something obviously going on with him," driver Jody Jamieson told Harness Racing Communications, who is apart of the Federal Flex Stable. "It's disappointing. I thought he was 1-5 the best, and that's not him. He needs to be more consistent. That's just not him.
"We'll get in the back door, which is good, I guess. You can't be disappointed with that. But we wanted to have some kind of better performance going into the final. (Find out what is wrong) is Jeff's job. He's done a great job with him so far. He had a little lapse, but it's not Jeff's fault."
For full recaps of Saturday's eliminations, click here.