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McNair Welcomes Grand Circuit Return

Published: August 13, 2021 11:39 am ET

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Northfield Park will host the Carl Milstein Memorial this Saturday (August 14) with a field of nine three-year-old pacers set to battle for the $300,000 purse. There will be some top-level talent that draws into the race like disqualified Meadowlands Pace winner Charlie May and Water Sports Teen, who has four wins in his last five starts.

Another horse to watch out for that draws the inside comes from north of the 49th parallel and Bettor Sun looks to continue his recent success. In his last three starts, Bettor Sun has won only once but has not finished outside the top-three, garnering an invite to Saturday's Milstein. He picked up his new lifetime mark of 1:49 on July 31 at Woodbine Mohawk Park while also picking up his second win of 2021.

A son of Sunshine Beach-Bettor Think Twice, Bettor Sun was bred in Rogersville, Tennessee at Willow Oak Ranch. The breeders still own a piece of the gelding along with trainer Gregg McNair, who most frequently enlists son Doug to drive.

The younger McNair is excited about the opportunity and invitation that he and the connections Bettor Sun has been given.

“You don’t often get to race for this kind of money especially at a half-mile track,” said McNair, who sports 149 wins and $2,428,919 in winnings thus far this season. “We’ve been stuck at home for the best part of this and last summer. It’s nice to get away and race other guys in a nice stakes race.”

Bettor Sun has taken some time to get this level of sophomore success. When the three-year-old returned to racing in Ontario back in June, he had a rocky start, and he did not stack up to other top Ontario-sired horses at that time. “A month ago, he was not among the top O.S.S. horses but it wasn’t his fault because there were a few issues.” It took some time, but Bettor Sun has regained the form that he left off last year.

Although Bettor Sun had slight struggles during the early part of the 2021, he had a stellar two-year-old campaign. He won more than $270,000 in only 10 starts in 2020. As part of that solid rookie season, Bettor Sun currently sports an undefeated streak on half-mile tracks that started when he won the 2020 Battle of Waterloo elimination and finals at Grand River Raceway, capturing the final in 1:53.3. He also came up with a win at Flamboro Downs last October making him a perfect three-for-three on a half-mile tracks like the one he'll be competing over on Saturday in Ohio.

McNair is the one usually in the sulky for Bettor Sun and has been there for all five of his lifetime wins. The O'Brien Award winner believes that the young gelding's natural ability gives him an advantage over the smaller tracks. “He paces his turns nicely. He paces the turns better than the straight away. He’s always been handy and well gaited.”

Although heading into Saturday’s race at 8-1 on the morning line, McNair feels that he and Bettor Sun have a very good chance at hitting the board. “I think Northfield Park is a fast track. You see some of the horses from there head north and race slower at Mohawk.

Having the rail gives McNair an edge and allows him more control over how the race will set up. “Bettor Sun has had some pretty big miles and how the race will set up, I think he will get a piece of it. As long as he behaves, he has the speed off the gate to sit wherever we want, and we can figure it out from there.”

The future is still somewhat unclear for Bettor Sun, a North America Cup-eligible sophomore, with McNair more focused on a good performance this weekend. A win in this event would surely continue Bettor Sun into the direction of a North America Cup appearance at the start of September.

“The last few starts he has been going the right direction. But he is a lot different from a horse on the half-mile track, so I think he has a real decent shot in this race. We’ll look at the North America Cup when it comes.”

The complete field for the Milstein is as follows:

1. Bettor Sun (Doug McNair, Gregg McNair) 8-1
2. Water Sports Teen (Joe Bongiorno, Jennifer Bongiorno) 3-1
3. Rockin On Venus (Ronnie Wrenn Jr., Kelly O’Donnell) 10-1
4. Alilthundadownunda (Ronnie Wrenn Jr., Jessica Johnson) 20-1
5. Bayfield Beach (Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke) 6-1
6. Mysweetboymax (Aaron Merriman, Sam De Pinto) 12-1
7. Charlie May (Brett Miller, Steve Carter) 5-2
8. Chase H Hanover (Brian Sears, Scott Cox) 15-1
9. Heart Of Chewbacca (Dan Noble, Ron Burke) 9-2

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Trey Colbeck)

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