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Ford Comments On Dancer Chances

Published: July 10, 2008 10:25 am ET

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All eyes will be on Deweycheatumnhowe in this Friday's $350,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial at the Meadowlands Racetrack as he bids for his 12th consecutive win. But a full field of 10 will line up behind the gate to try and derail the undefeated, early Hambletonian favourite, including Ace High Hall for trainer Mark Ford.

Ace High Hall will start from Post 9 in the fifth race Stanley Dancer for three-year-old trotting colts. He is rated at 15-1 on the morning line with Dan Dube listed to drive. The Stanley Dancer is the last major prep race for the $1.5 million Hambletonian on August 2.

"To be realistic, Deweycheatumnhowe might be the best horse that ever was," Ford acknowledged. "'Dewey' is not going to get himself beat. Circumstances might. Unless a catastrophe, I think we are all racing for second money. But sometimes it's not necessarily who has the best horse, it's who's the luckiest at the time. Timing, luck and having the best horse all have to come together."

Ace High Hall had all those things come together during a productive two-year-old campaign for Ford and owner Martin Scharf. The pair acquired the son of Conway Hall after his second lifetime start and he proceeded to win three straight races in New York Sire Stakes action. He went on to set a 1:59 track record at Yonkers for two-year-old trotting colts on September 6.

"He was good every start last year," Ford said. "But I really thought all last year, that if you get him to a big track it would really pick him up. I think I'm right. He's ok around the half but he is such a big horse that it takes him a while to get going. I think he will be better here."

Ace High Hall has had plenty of time to mature, with nearly eight months between his last start as a two-year-old and his debut at three.

"I think it was good for him that he only had very limited stakes last year only in New York," Ford said. "We stopped with him in September and we gave him a long time off. He's not a delicate colt, but I thought we'd give him a chance to grow. I purposely didn't start him too early this season hoping that a bigger track would help him and hoping he would be competitive so he could maybe go with some of the better colts this summer."

Ace High Hall notched his first win this season in an elimination for the Yonkers Trot on June 21.

"I was so happy with him at Yonkers," Ford said. "He won the Yonkers Trot elimination [in 1:57.2] impressively. Then, we drew the eight-hole in that final and had no chance."

In last week's Stanley Dancer elimination, Ace High Hall angled clear of traffic late in the stretch and surged to finish second.

"He raced well again the other night in his Dancer elimination," he said. "Maybe he would've won on the front end. I think I over instructed my driver [Daniel Dube]. We were trying to be a little cautious for the next few weeks and I just didn't want him roughed up. He's progressing and that was a good acclimating mile for him.

"I'm very cautiously optimistic about him," Ford continued. "So far, so good and I couldn't ask for more. I don't go in with aspirations on winning the Hambletonian, but if we can get a little bone here and there I'd be perfectly happy with that."

The Friday night program also features the $300,000 Del Miller Memorial for fillies. Snow White is the 8-5 morning line favorite from post two in Race 7.

Click here to view the Meadowlands' Friday entries.


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