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Retired Car Dealer Is "In It To Win It"

Published: April 24, 2015 9:05 am ET

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"There’s a lot of money in harness racing now. Investing $100,000 in a horse is really not a gamble, whereas five or 10 years ago, if you invested $100,000 in a yearling, that was a gamble."

Friday’s inaugural staging of the $51,100 The Meadows Maturity for older distaff trotters has attracted two of harness racing’s superstars — 2014 Trotter of the Year Shake It Cerry and 2014 Mare Trotter of the Year Classic Martine. But locally based horsemen aren’t backing off. Instead, they’re sending out The Meadows’ female trotting elite —- Daylon Miracle, Anaffairtoremember, Cowgirl Hall and Whata Donato —- to challenge the glamour girls.

Bill Bercury, who owns and trains Daylon Miracle and Anaffairtoremember, insists he’s racing for more than a cheque and a moral victory.

“I’m in it to win it,” he said. “A win and a second would be perfect.”

Bercury, a retired auto dealer who still operates a home construction business, has the track record to lend credibility to his remarks. While some horsemen concentrate on stakes candidates and others play the claiming game, Bercury has a different approach. He locates proven, quality performers, pays market rates for them and hopes to recoup his investment and then some. Usually, he does.

"I’m buying proven animals; we’re asking them to do what they did before. If we can improve them just a bit, we’ll do very, very well with them."

Both Daylon Marvel and Anaffairtoremember fit the Bercury profile. He paid $150,000 for Daylon Miracle, a six-year-old daughter of Pegasus Spur-Daylon Marvel, after she had amassed a considerable bank account in Canada. She earned more than $165,000 for Bercury last year alone and routinely faces, and defeats, male rivals.

“Did I overpay for her? Maybe a little bit. Will I make money on her? Absolutely. I’d rather overpay for a really nice horse than get a good deal on a horse that won’t be competitive.”

The acquisition price for Anaffairtoremember was slightly more modest —- $90,000 —- but she, too has panned out. The five-year-old daughter of Angus Hall-Val Lee Woman has won three races and $41,625 already this season.

“She likes to follow a helmet, and after she follows it, she sprints pretty hard,” Bercury said. “I don’t know if she’s a top horse, but she loves her work, and she’s easy to work with.”

Bercury said his reputation for purchasing quality and paying fair prices generates many queries from prospective sellers, so many that he doesn’t need an intermediary to scout talent for him.

“When people realize that you’re a player and you don’t jerk them around, they call you,” he said.

And he indicated his many years buying and selling cars have helped him in his pursuit of equine stars.

“Something well bought is half sold,” he said.

The Maturity goes as race 9 on Friday’s card, and it will follow the $33,700 championship of the Do Me Honor Pace for sophomore fillies. (Do Me Honor, by the way, is yet another current standout Bercury acquired using his tried-and-true methodology.) First post is 6:55 p.m.

Here is The Meadows Maturity field in post order with drivers, trainers, and morning line:

1. Sweetie Hearts, Tony Hall, Rich Gillock, 20-1
2. Cowgirl Hall, Eric Goodell, Ron Burke, 8-1
3. Anaffairtoremember, Mike Wilder, William Bercury, 10-1
4. Daylon Miracle, Aaron Merriman, William Bercury, 5-1
5. Rockin With Dewey, Eric Ledford, Benoit Baillargeon, 12-1
6. Handover Belle, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 12-1
7. Shake It Cerry, Dave Palone, Jimmy Takter, 7-5
8. Whata Donato, Doug Snyder, Doug Snyder, 20-1
9. Classic Martine, Dan Rawlings, Chris Oakes, 4-1

(The Meadows)


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