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Canadians Seek Breeders Crown Glory

Published: October 29, 2020 11:27 pm ET

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In 2017, the last year that Harrah's Hoosier Park Racing & Casino hosted the Breeders Crown, there were 13 Canadian trainers listed over the two-day event. With the travel restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that number has dropped to just four.

Of those four, only two of those trainers appear on the entries in both years: Luc Blais and Paula Wellwood. Blais noted that it's definitely a different process this year than in 2017 when he sent out a victorious Emoticon Hanover in the Open Mare Trot.

"It's a funny year," Blais told Trot Insider on Wednesday from Indiana. "Lots of organization." His horses, including Breeders Crown finalist On A Streak, were shipped south with Doyle Transport. He flew down, along with two members of his staff.

Wellwood is also stateside according to partner Mike Keeling, who noted that Wellwood went along trotting colt Muscle Dynasty for his stakes events in New Jersey and has stayed with him since.

The Canadian contingent is filled out by Rob Fellows and Dr. Ian Moore. Fellows is the only Canadian trainer with multiple horses racing in the Breeders Crown this weekend, qualifying both pacing mare Philly Hanover and pacing colt Warrawee Vital for their respective Breeders Crown finals. Philly Hanover finished a respectable fifth in the single Breeders Crown elim last Saturday, pacing her own mile in 1:50.4 and closing in :25.4. She's listed at 30-1 on the morning line, and Fellows admitted that things will likely have to go her way to improve upon that placing this Saturday.

PHILLY HANOVER (Captaintreacherous - Paris Hanover) races Saturday in Race 12, PP7
Owners: Ron Coyne Stables Inc., New Egypt, N.J.; Blair Corbeil, Beaumont, Alta.
Driver: Scott Zeron ~ Trainer: Rob Fellows

"She came her back half in :52 and a piece but those ones on the front end, those are two exceptional horses," said Fellows in reference to Shartin N and Warrawee Ubeaut. "If they line up early and get cheap fractions, there will be no flow."

Fellows and his wife Yolanda have been in the U.S. for more than a month, starting with with Warrawee Vital's race at Delaware, Ohio in the Little Brown Jug.

"We're just playing it very safe," said Fellows of handling the situation presented by the pandemic. "We go to the barn every morning, eat when we have to and keep our circle very small while we're here."

Fellows deflected any serious credit for leading all Canadian trainers with 2020 Breeders Crown entrants. "The horses are the ones that deserve to be there, we're just lucky that we have them here on time and got them to the races. They're just nice horses."

While his Canadian counterparts have all shifted operations to the Hoosier State, Dr. Moore is managing Breeders Crown finalist Century Farroh remotely.

CENTURY FARROH (Mach Three - Beachy Girl) races Saturday in Race 15, PP7
Owner: Ratchford Stable NS; North Sydney, NS
Driver: David Miller ~ Trainer: Dr. Ian Moore

"I'd love to be there," said Moore. "I don't ever recall having a horse in the Breeders Crown and I can't be there to see him warm up and all that sort of thing.

"It's a little different, but that's the way it is and we've coped with it all year. It's actually worked out quite well...I have a lot of friends in a lot of places, and they've helped me out quite a bit."

The added wrinkle with Century Farroh is the recent addition of Lasix to the horse's training and racing program.

"I've been in constant contact, discussing what we should do," noted Moore. "We actually trained him on Lasix before he was entered for the Breeders Crown, scoped afterward to make sure he was good."

Moore is expecting good things from Century Farroh this Saturday, coming in off a third-place finish to morning line favourite Bettors Wish in an Invitational Pace last weekend.

"We'll see what happens; it's always quite a thrill to be in the Breeders Crown. I do wish I could be there to enjoy all the festivities."

Moore is also looking forward to watching the Canadian-connected entrants, especially Fellows' three-year-old pacing colt Warrawee Vital.

"Rob's got a dandy colt there, he's a nice one. He told me last year, as a two-year-old, how good a horse he was ... when he got sound he turned into quite a horse, and good for him. He's a good horseman, a good trainer and a good manager."

WARRAWEE VITAL (Captaintreacherous - Great Memories) races Saturday in Race 13, PP4
Owners: Blair Corbeil, Beaumont, Alta., Yolanda Fellows & M&S Racing Stable Inc., Rockwood, Ont.
Driver: Tim Tetrick ~ Trainer: Rob Fellows

Drawing on the old saying that it takes a village to raise a child, Fellows intimated that same analogy also applies to training horses.

"From the time we pick them up as yearlings to the time they get to the races, there's a lot of people that touch these horses all the way through."

A sibling to two superstars in Warrawee Needy and Warrawee Ubeaut, Warrawee Vital was a relatively bargain-priced $32,000 yearling purchase of Fellows from the 2018 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale who now sports one of the fastest records of his division with his 1:47.1 speed badge taken at The Red Mile. The adage that applies here is that patience pays off.

"Looking back, he stood pretty correct but he was very immature-looking at the time. He was tall and thin...a lot of yearling buyers like those big, strong, very pretty horses that look like they're ready to qualify the day they walk from the sale. He was in an awkward growth part of his life. We looked at him, but we weren't really thinking we could afford him. After the hammer fell, we wondered 'what did we miss?'"

Heading into the Breeders Crown with the third choice and a horse that just paced faster than :26 to both open and close his Breeders Crown elim, the apparent answer to that question is nothing.

"I got thinking about it the other day after his elimination...if you would have told me that ever in my life I would have a horse that would leave the first quarter in :25.4, come his back quarter in :25.2, and didn't win after sitting in the two hole, I would have told you that you were crazy. That's a half in :51.1. Think about that for a minute...that wasn't enough to win an elimination to a major stakes race. That's just mind-boggling."

On A Streak closed strongly in his Breeders Crown elim, flashing a :26.4 final quarter to finish a solid fourth -- just three-quarters of a length back of winner In Range. Trainer Blais has confidence in his William Wellwood Memorial-winning colt, listed on the morning line at 8-1.

ON A STREAK (Cantab Hall - Habits Best) races Friday in Race 10, PP4
Owners: Determination; Montreal, Que.
Driver: Bob McClure ~ Trainer: Luc Blais

"We drew the four hole and that's perfect for him. He feels good. I trained him this morning (Wednesday) and he trained super. He had a good week and I have a good feeling for this weekend.

"At this level, they can all go fast. You need racing luck. But On A Streak is a nice horse...he's handy, you can do what you want with him. It's a great quality."

One of the horses competing against On A Streak is Keeling's Muscle Dynasty, who finished fourth in the second elimination and was also race timed in 1:54.2.

MUSCLE DYNASTY (Muscle Hill - Miss Liv) races Friday in Race 10, PP6
Owner: Dreamville Stable; Cambridge, Ont.
Driver: Scott Zeron ~ Trainer: Paula Wellwood

"We were really pleased with him. Scott kind of had in his mind to ensure he got in the final, and learn about him and maybe teach him some speed because he hasn't had much chance to really stretch out. Scott seemed really encouraged when I spoke to him the next day, he was thrilled. It may not all come together this year but he'll be a heck of a nice horse next year, for sure.

"We're cautiously optimistic because there are some really talented colts down there...He's always shown glimmers of real ability, it's just that mentally he wasn't as mature as he was physically. We're proud to be there, and with two-year-old trotters you just have to hope for a little luck."

As the trainers all hope for luck this coming weekend, one thing they certainly cannot control is the weather. While the forecast for the weekend shows only a slight (10%) chance of rain, Mother Nature hasn't been kind this week.

"The weather's been up and down, so [Paula] expects some sickness is going to start to filter in," noted Keeling. "There might be some horses that underperform due to sickness."

Fellows echoed those sentiments. "They have to stay healthy...they're not going to go in [1]:52, they're going to go a big mile. So everything has to be 100 percent. That's why so many times it's after the race we find out, when things went wrong, because we're not looking for problems before we go in when we're expecting a big effort. It's a tough game."

The difficulty of not only getting a horse to the races, but to start in, qualify for and possibly win a Breeders Crown is not lost on any of this year's Canadian connections.

"We go to bed as little kids to right up to when you do this...we all have the same dreams," said Fellows. "We watch other people's dreams coming true and every year we hope that happens to us one day."

Standardbred Canada will feature a live video stream along with live coverage of the 2020 Breeders Crown cards from Harrah's Hoosier Park. First post time for both cards is 6:00 p.m. (ET). To view program pages for the Breeders Crown cards, click on one of the following links: (please note that the file size for each is more than 19MB)

2020 Breeders Crown Program (Friday)

2020 Breeders Crown Program (Saturday)

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