DEXTER WINS FIVE US BREEDERS CROWN ELIMINATIONS, FINALS NEXT SUNDAY
By Jeff Scott
Kiwi superstar Dexter Dunn could potentially become a $US10 million man for the year in North America, as early as next Sunday (NZ time).
Dunn continued to wow the North American scene by bagging five $US32,500 Breeders Crown eliminations, and a support race, at Woodbine, Mohawk, on Sunday, October 20 (NZ time).
He also finished third well late in another Breeders Crown elimination with outsider Philly Hanover behind favourite, Warrawee Ubeaut, in the 3YO pacing filly elimination.
Next Sunday will be another huge mega-bucks bonanza for the former 10-time NZ champion driver in the big league of North American harness racing.
He moved to driving the winners of $US9.227,769 from 332 wins in 10 and a half months for the year, after eliminations day night at Woodbine.
The “down under wonder” will be driving for at least $2.6 million in Canadian purses on next weekend’s showcase programme,.
If he’s lucky enough to win three Crown Finals, Dexter will be on the verge of an unbelieveable $10 million milestone with 2 ½ months of the year remaining.
(Canadian purses are converted to US earning for the purpose of the US Trotting Association’s official statistics).
Dexter’s Breeder Crown Final drives include: Bettors Wish (heat winners to be drawn between 1-5 on Wed, $600,000 3YO Pacing Colts Final), Soul Strong (from barrier nine, $500,000 3YO Trot Colts/geldings Final), Millies Possesion, from barrier two, $500,000 3YO Trot Fillies Final), Manchego (from barrier four, $325,000 Trot Open Mares Final) and $US460,062 earner and 1:48.3 winner, Treacherous Reign (from barrier three, $550,000 3YO Pacing Fillies Final).
Dexter, and expatriate Kiwi trainer, Chris Ryder, have a great shot at winning the glamour event, $600,000 3YO Colts Final next Sunday, with top earning age group pacer Bettors Wish.
Co-owned by Chris Ryder, Bella Racing Ltd, Fair Island Farm Inca and Bettors Wish Partners, Bettors Wish has been something of a rags-to-riches story.
The Bettors Delight-Lifetime Star (by Western Ideal) colt, selected by Ryder for a bargain $20,000 from the yearling sales, has won $US1.3 million with 12th wins and four seconds from 16 starts for the year going into the Breeders Crown Final.
Bettors Wish, who has a mile best of 1:47.4 (fifths), showed his rivals a touch of arrogance in his Breeders elimination win.
Dexter eased to trail Cant Beach That over a 27.1 first quarter, then was relegated three back as 9-5 second favourite Southwind Ozzi took control and eased the second quarter in 29.2s through the opening half.
Dexter had Bettors Wish on the move first over parked on the turn, as joint leader reaching the three-quarters mark in 1:24.2.
In the home stretch, Bettors Wish, and Dexter, were poetry in motion as they drew clear to win by a length and a length in 1:51, from Southwind Ozzi, and a late-closing Covered Bridge.
The winner wasn’t all out over his final 400m in 26.2s.
In the post-race interview, Dexter said: “You can’ help but love him (Bettors Wish).”
“He is such a cool dude and had a great year. I said to C J (Ryder) it’s probably the best he’s felt all year, post parading. He’ just an awesome horse.”
“I’ve given him some hard runs the poor wee fella, but he just keeps bouncing back. It is a credit to Chris and the team what they do with him.”
Chris Ryder, when asked about the arrival of Dexter among North America’s best drivers, commented: ” He’s my boy and we’re very proud of him.”
“Bettors Wish had two good weeks in Kentucky and it’s my job he’s not messed up. He’s a beautiful horse. I kept my fingers crossed for another great week.”
“There is nothing complicated with him. He’s simple and easy on himself but I did have a bit of hiccup with a foot this week with him, but he came right. He’s a keeper and and a blessing to have him.”
Dexter’s other Breeders elimination wins came with a minor upset victory in the other 3YO Pacing Colts division behind minor upset winner, Dancing Lou, another easy win with Manchego in the Open Mares Trot in 1:52.3 (fifths), Dancing Mearas (16-1) in a second Open Mares Trot in 1:53.2 (fifths) and Millies Possesion in a 3YO Fillies Trot in 1:53.
Dancing Lou dented reputations when he defeated this year’s Meadowlands Pace winner Best In Show (1:48) and North American Cup winner, Captain Crunch (1:47.2), in the first 3YO Pacing Colts elimination.
A colt by Sweet Lou from a Cambest mare, this was his 10th win in 16 starts for $US264,171 for the year.
Dexter drove him for luck, settling four back on the markers, then took the short way home with a blazing marker pegs finish to score in 1:50.1 (fifth).
He exploded along the cones to win by a length and a half from Best In Show, a late closer from the eight barrier, and Captain Crunch, who led early, trailed and had every chance.
Dancing Lou, Canadian-owned but trained in the USA by Tahnee Camilleri, a former Australian lawyer, who had a brief stint in the US in 2010, made a permanent move from New South Wales to New York last year.
She had good results last year with two former smart Australian horses, Ideal Lifestyle A (1:50.2, fifths) and Constantlysideways A (1:49.1, fifth), but stakes colt Dancing Lou presented her with her first Canadian win.
“I’m speechless,” Camilleri said in a post-race interview.
“I’m really proud of the horse. When we found the winner’s circle at Lexington, I only then decided to go for the Breeder Crown.”
“He has been a dream. It’s an uphill struggle to get recognized, so I am very happy the owners gave me a shot.”
Dexter said: “He was good at his last start at Lexington, but better tonight. We took our shot and got up the lane. He’s a versatile little guy, who led then trailed at Lexington.”
“There was a bit of action up front tonight and he sprinted home a good last quarter (25.4s).”
Dexter has top chances in next Sunday’s Crown Trot Finals with the world’s fastest mare Manchego and one of the best 3YO Trotting Fillies, in Millies Possesion, who also won their eliminations easily.
Manchego (1-5 favourite) thundered out from from the eight with a 27s opening quarter and took no prisoners in her elimination, winning as she liked by a length and a quarter in 1:52.3.
Dexter was able to back off and set up an easy win with a breather over the second quarter in 29.4s.
She picked up the speed again in 55.6s to jog home a length and a quarter to the good of trailer, Emoticon Hanover, in 1:52.3.
This was the sixth win in 14 starts this year for Manchego for $US322,388. A four-year-old Muscle Hill mare, she has won 25 times lifetime and is marching toward $2 million in lifetime earnings.
“She has put in two great performances her last two starts. Her last mile at Lexington (1:49) was a hard mile,” Dexter said.
“She is in great form at the moment. She gets her head round left a little bit so I just let her do her thing but she was doing it easy.”.
Trainer Nancy Johansson described Manchego as being “just exceptional.”
“There are no other words to describe her,” she said.
Johansson said her in-form team had acclimated well in Canada for the Breeders Crown series, a week, after leaving from Kentucky.
“They should be just fine for next week,” she said.
Millies Possesion, after disappointing at Lexington at her previous start, bounced back from sickness to win at 5-1 in her 3YO Fillies Trot elimination.
“She’s a great filly and she’s proved that all year long. I knew when I post-parade her after her last start Lexington. She has put in some great runs. She felt great and when the speed went off, I decided to move her,” Dexter said.
After improving from sixth early to lead at the half in 56.1s, she was strong winning by a length in 1:53. She has a mile best at three of 1:51.1 (fifth).
“I told Jimmy that is the best she has trotted and steered this year. She felt great and it gives you a lot of confidence.”
“Except for her last start she has never got tired over a mile and just keeps trucking.”
Jim Campbell, who trains Millies Possesion, says Dexter has done a tremendous job with this year’s near $US500,887 winner, who has won 11 of 14 starts for the year.
“She scoped sick after Lexington, but was good training this week and and it showed tonight,” Campbell said.
Dexter’s other Open Trot Mares elimination winner, Darling Meares S, was a near 7-1 winner.
A Swedish-owned daughter of Cantab Hall trained by Ake Svanstedt, she sprinted best from the trail to win in 1:53.2 (fifths).
Soul Strong, Dexter’s drive in next Sunday’s 500,000 3YO Trot Colts/geldings Final, has a 1:52 mile mark this year, having won three and been four times second in 11 starts for $227,747, is a stablemate of Darling Meares S in the Ake Svanstedt barn.
His non-Breeders Crown win on Sunday and the first of six wins on the programme came behind Pointomygranson ($13,000 pace from the outside eight gate), surging to the lead at the half-mile and holding the former useful NZ Paul Court-trained pacer, Mongolian Hero, by a head in 1:49.4 (fifths).
Dexter, making a big splash in his first US Breeders Crown Series, says It’s a pleasure to be there and exciting to haves so many great drives in the Finals.
To check out Dexter and Bettors Wish in their Breeders Crown elimination win, go to this U-tube link
To see Millies Possesion bounce back with an authoritative win in her 3YO Filly Trot elimination, go to this link.
And to watch Dexter win from the barrier eight with Manchego in the Open Mares elimination, please go to this link.