Freehold, NJ — It is unusual for a horse to have his first major stakes win come in the Maple Leaf Trot, but 6-year-old Mambo Lindy will try to do it Saturday. If he does, he will join impressive company.
The most recent horse to win the Maple Leaf Trot without any prior unrestricted major stakes experience was San Pail in 2009. It was the first of three consecutive victories in the Maple Leaf Trot for the “Pail,” who in 2011 was named Horse of the Year in both the U.S. and Canada and finished his career with $3 million in purses.
Mambo Lindy, who was unraced at ages 2 and 3, will attempt to join San Pail in moving from winning predominately at the open level of competition to capturing one of harness racing’s top events for older trotters. Last week, Mambo Lindy won his Maple Leaf Trot elimination at odds of 26-1 in a lifetime-best 1:52.2. He is 9-2 on the morning line for Saturday’s C$593,000 final at Ontario’s Mohawk Racetrack.
Hannelore Hanover, a 5-year-old mare who won the first of the two Maple Leaf Trot eliminations in 1:52, is the 5-2 favorite. Swedish-bred mare Pasithea Face, also a 5-year-old, is the 4-1 second choice. Hannelore Hanover finished second to Resolve in last year’s Maple Leaf Trot. Resolve failed to advance to this year’s final.
Scott Zeron will drive Mambo Lindy in the Maple Leaf Trot. Tim Tetrick drove the gelding in his elimination, but will drive Pasithea Face in the final.
“I think he’s coming in as sharp as anyone in there, as far as current form,” said Frank M. Antonacci, the co-owner and trainer of Mambo Lindy. “I wouldn’t want him sitting on my back turning for home. He knows how to go by horses in the stretch, so if he’s anywhere in striking distance I would be surprised if he’s not moving forward.
“If it’s enough to get him the win, I don’t know. But he’s a real good honest horse. We’ve mainly been racing him every other week. This time he’s racing in back-to-back weeks and whenever he’s done that before he’s put forth a razor-sharp effort. Hopefully that’s the case again.”
Mambo Lindy, a son of 2007 Horse of the Year Donato Hanover out of the Dan Patch Award-winning mare Rum Boogie, has spent the majority of his career competing at Plainridge Park in Massachusetts. He has won 22 of 36 career races, with 19 of the victories coming in his 30 starts at Plainridge. He has earned $169,260 in lifetime purses.
A lack of maturity and an injury prevented Mambo Lindy, owned by the Antonacci family’s GreatHorse stable, from getting to the races until he was a 4-year-old.
“He was very difficult to get going as a 2-year-old,” Antonacci said. “He always had high speed, but he paid attention to everything but his business. We knew he had a lot of talent, so it was very frustrating.
“We gelded him, and that was one thing that made a big difference. But I think it’s really just age. We worked him through the ranks at Plainridge and he learned how to be a nice horse and win races. Now he’s the ultimate professional; you can do anything you want with him.
“He’s the pride of Massachusetts. He’s just a really cool horse.”
Antonacci credited driver Greg Merton, who has driven Mambo Lindy regularly at Plainridge, for assisting with the horse’s development.
“He’s always taken care of him, put him in the right spots, let him learn how to be a racehorse,” Antonacci said. “He’s done a really good job bringing him along as well.”
Although this will be Mambo Lindy’s first major stakes appearance, it is not for a lack of trying. Antonacci hoped to send Mambo Lindy to the Spirit of Massachusetts and the John Cashman Memorial, but the horse was shut out because those races were filled based on earnings.
“It’s a pet peeve of mine,” Antonacci said. “I think too many of these races have gone to the earnings instead of eliminations. A horse like this guy, he hasn’t had a chance to race anybody because those open races are based on lifetime earnings. I understand the reason some races are like that, but I’m glad the Maple Leaf is not one of them.”
In addition to the Maple Leaf Trot, Antonacci will have his eyes on the C$684,000 Canadian Trotting Classic for 3-year-old trotters. Antonacci’s International Moni is the 3-1 morning-line favorite from post five and his Lindy The Great is 15-1 from the outside post 10.
“I think International Moni is in a great spot,” Antonacci said. “He shows up every week. He’s just a tough, consistent horse. I think he’ll be right there. He’s had a good week and he seems good and healthy right now. I expect him to be good. I would have liked a better draw with Lindy The Great, but he’s a pretty fresh horse. If he can somehow find a trip and work it out, he’s a big strong powerful fresh horse that can unleash some big miles the rest of the year.”
Click here for Saturday’s complete card at Mohawk, which also includes the finals of the Milton and Elegantimage stakes, plus eliminations for the Metro Pace.
Following is the field in post order for the Maple Leaf Trot, with drivers, trainers and morning line.
1. Windsun Revenge-Rick Zeron-Jeff Durham-8/1
2. Odds On Amethyst-Patrick Hudon-Patrick Hudon-20/1
3. Pasithea Face S-Tim Tetrick-Jimmy Takter-4/1
4. Mambo Lindy-Scott Zeron-Frank Antonacci-9/2
5. Hannelore Hanover-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-5/2
6. JL Cruze-David Miller-Eric Ell-8/1
7. Warrawee Roo-Sylvain Filion-Luc Blais-12/1
8. Homicide Hunter-Brett Miller-Chris Oakes-5/1
9. Musical Rhythm-Mario Baillargeon-Benoit Baillargeon-12/1
10. Gural Hanover-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-15/1
By Ken Weingartner – Harness Racing Communications