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Schnittker As Competitive As They Get

Published: July 7, 2008 3:52 pm ET

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Ray Schnittker has always been a strong finisher, although it was first on the wrestling mat rather than at the racetrack.

Schnittker, the trainer and driver of top-rated Hambletonian hopeful Deweycheatumnhowe, was a standout wrestler during his scholastic days at Starpoint High School in Lockport, New York, near Buffalo.

"There were some kids that seemed like they could never win at the end of a match, and that was usually my strong point," Schnittker said. A lot of guys wilted, but at the end, I seemed to eke out a win somehow."

Although he never wrestled prior to his freshman year, Schnittker developed into a league champion and sectional runner-up by the time he was a senior.

"I had a pretty good career," said Schnittker, who still occasionally attends high school matches and watches collegiate wrestling on television. "It's a great sport. I think you've got to be disciplined. When you're out on the mat, it's all you. Nobody else can help you. I think that helps keep (me) from being nervous before a race. Whatever happens, happens."

Deweycheatumnhowe improved his career record to 12-for-12 with a win July 4 in his elimination race for Friday's $350,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial. Deweycheatumnhowe won by 4-1/2 lengths over Goodtimes Stakes champ Clerk Magistrate in 1:52.2 to pick up his second victory of this season. His time was two-fifths of a second off Mr Pine Chip's stakes record.

"He hasn't lost, so I guess that's where we want him to be," Schnittker said. "He can do anything; he can leave, he can come from behind. He's real easy to drive, just a really great horse. At the head of the lane I asked him and he just opened up three or four (lengths). He's got tremendous speed."

Celebrity Secret, driven by Tim Tetrick, won the other Dancer elimination race, beating Ace High Hall by one length in 1:54. It was Celebrity Secret's fourth consecutive victory.

"I was very happy with the horse; Tim gave him a nice, easy trip," trainer Staffan Lind said. "When he pulled him in the stretch, he responded very well. I have no bad feelings going into the final. Hopefully, we can stay close to (Deweycheatumnhowe). But it was an ultra-impressive performance by him in his elimination."

Celebrity Secret was winless in eight races last year, but earned $281,026. Lind tried this year to race the colt without trotting hobbles, which he wore last season, but Celebrity Secret went into a gallop in his second start of the campaign. Celebrity Secret is unbeaten since the hopples were put on again.

"He used them last year and felt comfortable with them," Lind said. "I see the facts. He wasn't himself without them. It wasn't a hard decision."

Below is the field in alphabetical order for Friday's $350,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial.

Deweycheatumnhowe and Celebrity Secret won the elimination races and their connections got to select post positions. Choosing first, Celebrity Secret's camp took Post 2, followed by Deweycheatumnhowe's connections taking Post 1. All of the finalists are eligible to the Hambletonian.

$350,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial
Ace High Hall
Atomic Hall
Big Boy Lloyd
Celebrity Secret
Clerk Magistrate
Guida Muscle
Keystone Blitz
Muscle Mass
Order By Lincoln

(Harness Racing Communications)

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