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Smith, Mccooeye Seek Class

Published: July 4, 2008 1:00 pm ET

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After four years off from racing, Mccooeye is fit and back for some racing action, but finding a class to race in near his home in Woodlawn, Ontario has proven to be a struggle.

"I like him back [racing]," says owner and trainer John Smith. "The only trouble is I can't get him in to race around here. That's a problem, there was no class for him. I finally got a class for him last night and he won, but now I guess he won't be able to go back there again."

The son of Shipps Speed scored a 1:58.1 victory in an $11,000 conditioning event Thursday night at Rideau Carleton Raceway, and is entered into the $43,000 St. Jacques Final at Sulky Trois Rivieres this Tuesday.

"I'd like to keep racing him a bit, but if the races are too far away then I'll have to think about it," says the 64-year-old, adding that it is too far for him to drive to Toronto for overnight racing and at his age he doesn't want to be working all day and all night.

"I'm not a big stable anymore; it's just my wife and I, basically. So I do all the driving and everything myself. It's hard to race that far away.

"That's the biggest reason why I didn't bring him back before more, because I knew there wasn't many races around here for him and I thought why keep him going all the time for just the odd race."

But Smith says he's always wanted to bring his trotter back and didn't intend to leave him off.

"I gave him a year off when he was five, and then I brought him back at six. Then I thought I'd give him another year off. So then it ended up being two years, then it ended up being three years. I thought it was only two years that he was off, then I looked when he went to race and I realized it was four years he was off," he laughs.

Despite being off for so long, the winner of over $1.1 million in lifetime earnings has progressed to Smith's likings.

"The first race we just didn't push him too hard. The next race, I thought he raced awfully good in the Prix Du Quebec. He was fifth, but I thought he raced awfully good considering I think they went fast fractions at first."

As for last night, Smith says Mccooeye raced "super good" considering it was only his third start back.

"In fact, when Marcel Barrieau got off he says 'geez, I can sure see why this horse won a million dollars.' He was pretty impressed with him. And he said he had lots of horse at the end, too, so I was pretty impressed. He was pretty impressed with him, so that made me feel good.

"He's an easy horse to train. He's an awfully nice tempered horse, an awfully nice horse to work with. There's nothing crazy about him. He's a very sensible horse," says Smith, who also enjoys his trainee's versatile racing style, but adds that it's not much good to him if he can't find regular races nearby.

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