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Explosive Matter/Muscle Hill Rematch

Published: September 9, 2009 9:52 pm ET

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The most highly regarded three-year-old trotters in harness racing – Muscle Hill and Explosive Matter – are on course for a Hambletonian rematch in the $1 million Canadian Trotting Classic at Mohawk Racetrack. On August 8, Muscle Hill won the $1.5 million Hambletonian by six lengths over Explosive Matter, stopping the clock in a world record equaling 1:50.1.

While Muscle Hill spent the past two weekends extending his unbeaten streak to 15 races by winning the $540,000 World Trotting Derby and the $200,000 American-National Stakes, both in Illinois, Explosive Matter was resting. Explosive Matter last competed August 16 at Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack, capturing the $500,000 Colonial by 2-1/2 lengths over The Chancellor in 1:53. The time was the fastest in history for a three-year-old trotter on a five-eighths-mile track.

“Everything has been good with him,” said Noel Daley, who trains Explosive Matter. “He doesn’t need a lot of racing. He’s pretty good like that. He’s been home, swimming and training. He won’t be a hundred percent wound up, but he’s done enough racing.

“There are too many races coming up. I didn’t want him up in Canada three weeks in a row and then go to Kentucky and then back to Canada again. I think it’s a little tough to do.”

Muscle Hill, who has not lost a race since finishing second in his career debut, is the No. 1-rated harness racing horse in the sport’s current Top 10 poll. Explosive Matter is the only other three-year-old trotter on the list, at No. 10. The two drew into separate Canadian Trotting Classic eliminations, from which the top five finishers will advance to the final on September 19.

Prior to his time off, Explosive Matter raced six times in eight weekends. He won a division of the Historic-Dickerson Cup on July 3 and was second, despite going off stride, to Muscle Hill in a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial on July 17. Two weeks later, he won his Hambletonian elimination despite being involved in a truck accident two days prior to the race.

“Realistically, he’s got to step up,” Daley said about potentially challenging Muscle Hill again. “I know [Explosive Matter] wasn’t a hundred percent in the Hambletonian after the week he’d had. But even if he was a hundred percent, we weren’t beating Muscle Hill the way he went that day.”

Following the Canadian Trotting Classic, the next major event for the three-year-old trotters is the $700,000 Kentucky Futurity on October 3 at the Red Mile in Lexington.

“If we have a good couple weeks, [the time off] might be an advantage for us,” Daley said.

Explosive Matter will start from post No. 1 in his Canadian Trotting Classic elim. The field includes Neighsay Hanover, PJ Clark, Winning Mister, Judge Joe, Southern Rocketop, Senator Hall, Hot Shot Blue Chip and Airzoom Lindy.

Judge Joe won the $670,774 Yonkers Trot on August 29 at Yonkers Raceway while Neighsay Hanover is coming off a victory in a division of last weekend’s Simcoe Stakes for three-year-old trotters at Mohawk. Southern Rocketop was second to Muscle Hill in last weekend’s World Trotting Derby at the Du Quoin State Fair in Illinois.

Muscle Hill will start from post No. 9 in his elim and faces Reinsman Hanover, Truth In Action, Tom Cango, Howd That Feel, Duded Up, Cesar A Blue Chip, Photoforwin and Select Yankee.

Last weekend, Muscle Hill endured a six-hour delay at Du Quoin as the track crew worked tirelessly to get the facility’s clay surface into racing shape following persistent rain. Because of the delay, regular driver Brian Sears was unavailable due to commitments in Canada, so trainer Greg Peck turned over Muscle Hill to Aussie native Luke McCarthy. None of it mattered to Muscle Hill, who won the World Trotting Derby by one length in 1:52.3.

“He looked super,” Peck said. “He’s kind of spoiled us; he usually wins by the large margins. But Luke did the right thing. He wanted to get around there as uneventful as possible. That’s what he did.”

(Harness Racing Communications)


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