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News and Insight On Winbak Farm

Read below for the latest on Winbak Achievements and graduates. Stories are from the leading industry news sources.

Muscle Hill Ready For Kentucky Futurity

Monday, September 28, 2009  By: Standardbred Canada

Trainer Greg Peck says Muscle Hill is ready to go for his first two-heat effort in Saturday's $700,000 (est.) Kentucky Futurity at The Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky.


The Futurity is the final jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown. Muscle Hill won the first, the Hambletonian, but skipped the second leg - the Yonkers Trot - which was won by Judge Joe. Entries for the Futurity close at 10 a.m. Wednesday.


For the last three years, the Futurity has been won by the Hambletonian champ - Deweycheatumnhowe in 2008, Donato Hanover in 2007 and Glidemaster in 2006. Windsongs Legacy, the 2004 Hambletonian winner, also won the Futurity. Glidemaster and Windsongs Legacy completed the Triple Crown sweep.


Muscle Hill has won all nine of his starts this year and 17 races in a row since finishing second in his career debut. He is coming off a victory in the $1,000,000 Canadian Trotting Classic on September 19 at Mohawk Racetrack. His lifetime earnings are $2.7 million for owners Jerry Silva, T L P Stable, Southwind Farm and Muscle Hill Racing LLC.


"He came out of Canada good," said Peck, who is a native of Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia.


"Sylvia (Hovde, his caretaker) even thought he gained weight up there, which is nice. It's that good Canadian air, I guess. He'll train lightly tomorrow (Tuesday); I'd normally go Wednesday, but you kind of don't know what the weather will do. With a clay track, you don't know if you'll be on the main track or not, so better to go when the sun is shining. Make hay when the sun is shining, like they say."


No horse has been nearer than one length from Muscle Hill at the finish of any race this year. In fact, other than his one-length victory over Southern Rocketop in the World Trotting Derby, which came with Luke McCarthy substituting for regular driver Brian Sears because of a six-hour rain delay, no horse has been within two and a half lengths of the colt. His average margin of victory in his nine races is four and a half lengths.


On Saturday, a horse must win two heats to be declared the Futurity winner. Twice in the last 10 years a third-heat race-off has been needed - last season with Deweycheatumnhowe beating Celebrity Secret and in 2005 with Strong Yankee beating Hambletonian champ Vivid Photo.


"(Muscle Hill) seems very, very ready and is in good shape and his appetite is great, just not a problem," Peck said. "The whole trip to Canada worked very well and we're just getting ready for the Futurity on Saturday."


Peck also trains two-year-old Holiday Road, who won the Peter Haughton Memorial to stamp himself as a 2010 Hambletonian hopeful. The colt is bouncing back after a sixth-place finish at The Red Mile last week in the Simpson Stakes; it was his first off-the-board effort in five starts.


"He made a break in the mud," Peck said. "He had a flat shoe on and it was a very greasy track. He trained well this morning and we'll go in the Bluegrass on Thursday and we'll see what happens there. The other night it was kind of one of those things where you would have had to change his shoes on the fly. I didn't realize what track conditions were going to be like."


Peck is looking high up and low down for more Muscle Hill bloodlines, to no avail. His dam, Yankee Blondie, has only one foal younger than Muscle Hill, a 2009 colt by Conway Hall.


"I don't see any pedigree in any sale with any reference to Muscle Hill," Peck said. "You'd think there would be something from a sister or a cousin or this or that - something. It was the same way last year - nothing. I've looked at every yearling sale catalog and there's none I can find. I looked at every pedigree at the sale in Lexington and Harrisburg and New Jersey. You'd think there would be something in a third dam or something, but no."


This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com


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