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Blais Seeks Second Hambletonian

Published: August 1, 2020 8:31 am ET

Last Comment: August 4, 2020 9:47 am ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

One year after his Hambletonian triumph with Forbidden Trade, Ontario-based trainer Luc Blais is back at the Meadowlands in quest of a second trophy, although not with the horse he expected to be his main contender.

Port Perry, an Ontario Sires Stakes star and O'Brien Award finalist at two, was the horse he saw as the primary Hambo hopeful this spring for the stable he trains for, Determination of Montreal. But an underwhelming start to the season for Port Perry, coupled with the emergence of Royalty for Life colt Threefiftytwo, led Blais to enter the latter in the $50,000 Hambo eliminations on Saturday. He's 8-1 in the morning line in an elimination that includes Ready For Moni and Sister Sledge.

Threefiftytwo has won once in three starts this season, but did so by trotting an eye-catching 1:52.3 mile at Woodbine Mohawk Park, speed that makes him competitive, on paper, in what appears to be a wide-open Hambo this year.

Determination acquired Threefiftytwo privately after the colt won an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold event in his first start at two for trainer George Ducharme.

He subsequently won another Gold at Grand River and ended his two-year-old season with $184,048 in earnings, almost all of it from OSS events.

In his latest start on July 21, he made a break entering the first turn dueling for the lead in an OSS Gold at Mohawk and finished a distant fifth.

"I was a bit disappointed in that one but he raced super the race before and I wouldn't be sending him if I didn't feel he belonged," said Blais. "He's talented but a very different horse than Forbidden Trade, who was relaxed and handy, you could do anything with him, which is why I knew he could deal with two heats. This guy's more difficult, hard on himself. He can get anxious. For that reason, I think the week (between the eliminations and final this year) could help him. But the first order of business is to make the final."

Forbidden Trade will be part of the card on Hambo day, racing in the Cashman for older trotters this time around. He'll tune up for that in a $17,000 race at the Meadowlands Saturday. Scott Zeron will drive both the Hambo champ and Hambo hopeful for Blais.

Daniel Dube gets the call on Determination's three-year-old Cantab Hall filly Whose Blues, who has a tightener at The Meadowlands this weekend in advance of next week's $600,000 Hambletonian Oaks, where she'll face the likes of Hypnotic AM, Panem and Sorella.

She faded badly after brushing to the front from Post 10 in her last start at The Meadowlands on July 24, but prior to that had scored impressively in 1:52.3 in a $63,462 Pennsylvania Sires Stakes event at Harrah's Philadelphia.

"Fillies can be moody, so I'm hoping it was just that. I expect her to race a lot better. But in a field of 12, you're also going to need some luck in the draw," said Blais, who will make the trip to The Meadowlands to oversee his horses and self-quarantine upon returning to Ontario.

"This is a big week for us," he said. "This is what you do it for, trying to develop young horses to their maximum potential. And racing at The Meadowlands is always special."

For more information on the 2020 Hambletonian eliminations, click the following link: 2020 Hambletonian Elims Set.

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Paul Delean)

August 4, 2020 - 9:47 amThreefiftytwo with SCOTT

Jim Brown SAID...

Threefiftytwo with SCOTT Zeron or Dave Miller.

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