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San Pail Set To Return

Published: September 23, 2013 10:59 am ET

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After four qualifiers to fully test out an injury that's played a part in keeping him away from the races for nearly 18 months, 2011 Horse of the Year San Pail is ready to return.

The now nine-year-old son of San Pellegrino - Village Beauty, owned by Port Perry's Glenn Van Camp and the Hughes Stable Inc. of Dunsford, Ont., was victorious in his fourth test of the season on Wednesday, Sept. 18. With regular driver Randy Waples at the controls, San Pail effortlessly tracked down early pacesetter Mopey Corey to trip the timer in 1:57.2.

If the speed in the qualifier seems less than stellar, trainer Rod Hughes notes that a look at San Pail's lines shows the majority of his qualifiers fall into that 1:57 range. Thus, it's not an indication that surgery and stem cell therapy from a year ago to treat his injured ankle wasn't a success.

"We went four qualifiers instead of speed," Hughes told Trot Insider. "Instead of coming out and trying to crack off a mile in :53 or :54 with a blistering last quarter we took the route of putting the conditioning to him. If the speed is there, it's going to be there. We don't need to prove it in a qualifier."

If Hughes and Co. are satisfied with San Pail's condition this week, the plans call for the triple millionaire to race next Monday at Mohawk Racetrack in the Preferred Trot.

"I just want to make sure we're competitive and come out of the race sound. Asking anything more than after this amount of time off is aiming a bit too high."

With that being said, Hughes is well aware of how fast the Preferred trotters are racing and what speed range his triple O'Brien Award winner will need to consistently trot to be competitive.

"Knowing 'Pail', you can't count him out."

Given the amount of time off and the fact his champion trotter is now nine, Hughes will be paying extra-close attention to San Pail's condition and monitoring these first few starts with increased vigilance.

"This Fall is going to tell the Tale of Pail, " said Hughes. "If we get one, two, three starts in...then we'll evaluate whether we carry on or not."

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