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The Dan Patch Could Be ‘Legendary’

Published: August 8, 2018 12:00 pm ET

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Long before New Zealand-bred Lazarus arrived in the U.S. and was pointed toward Hoosier Park Racing & Casino for his North American debut, another Down Under import found his way to the central Indiana harness racing oval to start his stateside career: Peter Tritton.

Tritton, a native of Australia, began his U.S. training career at Hoosier Park in May 2002. He remained there through the summer before heading to Delaware, where he became a regular on the Mid-Atlantic circuit.

On Friday, Tritton, who now resides in upstate New York, will return to Hoosier Park for the first time since those early days in the States. He will bring with him New Zealand-bred Bit Of A Legend for the $325,000 Dan Patch Stakes and in the process get a firsthand look at Lazarus in his anticipated debut for trainer Jimmy Takter.

Lazarus, known as the ‘Wonder from Down Under,’ has won 35 of 45 career races, missed the board only once, and earned the equivalent of $2.66 million.

“I’m sort of looking forward to seeing him,” Tritton said, adding with a laugh, “I just didn’t want to be racing him.”

The Dan Patch Stakes features a nine-horse field of older male pacers. The race, the 11th on the 14-race card, is scheduled for approximately 9:30 p.m. (EDT). First post is 6:30 p.m.

In addition to Lazarus and Bit Of A Legend, the field will include former Dan Patch Award winner and division leader McWicked, two Breeders Crown champions in Beckhams Z Tam and Split The House, a $3-million-earner in All Bets Off, two multiple-stakes-winners in Rockin Ron and Dealt A Winner, and Hoosier Park-based New Talent from the stable of the track’s leading trainer, Jeff Cullipher.

Bit Of A Legend has enjoyed a successful career in the U.S., with 25 wins in 69 races and $1.67 million since arriving in 2016. Overall, the nine-year-old horse has 45 victories in 132 starts and $2.33 million.

This season, Bit Of A Legend’s wins include the Battle of Lake Erie, in a career-best 1:49.4 around Northfield Park’s half-mile oval, and two preliminary divisions of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway. He finished second in the Levy final and also was second in the Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial at Saratoga.

Bit Of A Legend enters the Dan Patch with regular driver Jordan Stratton off a 1:51.4 win in the open handicap at Yonkers on July 28.

“He’s as good as he’s ever been,” said Tritton, who trains Bit Of A Legend for the Vonknoblauch Stable. “As long as you keep him happy he’ll just go out and try for you. You’ve got to let him be the boss a little bit. He’s likes to think he’s getting away with stuff. We treat him like that and it makes him feel good.

“I’ve had horses with more ability than him, but he just keeps turning it up. He’s got a good heart to win. He’s just the complete little horse. He wears an open bridle, no steering gear; he goes straight wherever you put him. He doesn’t wear any boots. He’s just easy on himself. He enjoys being out there and he always shows up. Jordan really suits him because he knows him like a book and looks after him. He’s just a lovely horse.”

Bit Of A Legend has raced only once on a track larger than five-eighths of a mile, as he finished second in an open at the Meadowlands in 2016. He lost by a head in 1:48.3 after having set the fractions in :27.1, :54.4 and 1:21.4.

“He did all the work in that race and he just got beat,” Tritton said. “The big tracks don’t bother him. He’s definitely strong enough and he’s brave. I’m not worried.”

Tritton is looking forward to returning to Hoosier Park.

“The main reason I dropped in, because I don’t like to go far from home, but the last few years (Bit Of A Legend) seemed to have success against the horses that were going in,” Tritton said. “I’ve always been looking to go back to Hoosier Park because that’s the first place I went when I came to America in 2002. It will be good to go back.”

McWicked, who won this year’s William R. Haughton Memorial and Ben Franklin Pace, finished second in last week’s Sam McKee Memorial, which was contested at a distance of one and one-eighth miles at the Meadowlands Racetrack. All Bets Off, Dealt A Winner, and Rockin Ron also were in the McKee.

“That’s why I gave my horse last week off; I’m sure my horse will be fresher,” Tritton said. “I don’t know if they’ll beat them, but he’ll be fresher.”

Bit Of A Legend will start the Dan Patch Stakes from Post 5. Lazarus will start from Post 9 with driver Yannick Gingras in his U.S. debut. Lazarus arrived at Takter’s farm in late May following his purchase by Taylor Made Stallions. During his career Down Under, Lazarus won two editions of the prestigious New Zealand Cup and 15 Group One events overall. He earned NZ$3.8 million.

“He’s probably the best horse to come out of New Zealand,” said Tritton, who has trained a number of Down Under horses in the U.S. during his career. “He’s very strong, very gutsy, so that big track will suit him. It’s his first run and he’s probably not completely acclimated, so he’s got a few things against him. It will be interesting to see the transition, but I know he’s a great horse.”

The field for the Dan Patch Stakes appears below.

(PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line)
1-Dealt A Winner-Brett Miller-Mark Silva-8/1
2-Beckhams Z Tam-Ricky Macomber Jr.-Jamie Macomber-20/1
3-Split The House-Trace Tetrick-Chris Oakes-20/1
4-Rockin Ron-Trace Tetrick-Ron Burke-10/1
5-Bit Of A Legend N-Jordan Stratton-Peter Tritton-12/1
6-McWicked-Brian Sears-Casie Coleman-2/1
7-All Bets Off-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-10/1
8-New Talent-Sam Widger-Jeff Cullipher-20/1
9-Lazarus N-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-6/5


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