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Sears, Coleman and Dr. Moore Comment On Qualifier

Thursday, May 13, 2010  By: Standardbred Canada

Keen eyes were on both Mohawk Racetrack and the Meadowlands Racetrack this morning, as harness racing newsmakers Sportswriter and Auckland Reactor both qualified victoriously.

With the Mohawk track rated 'fast' yet one second slow, the O'Brien Award-winning Sportswriter, who has been gauged as the 3-1 favourite in Trot Magazine's 2010 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book, put in his second qualifying mile of the season in Race 5, this time for new driver Brian Sears, who was got up behind the son of Artsplace for the first time.

After starting from Post 3, Sears and Sportswriter worked their way into the two hole behind the Dr. Ian Moore-trained and driven Bettors Delight colt Malicious (15-1 in Spring Book), who was putting in his second qualifying effort of the year. Malicious cut the opening quarter in :27.1. Dr. Moore and Malicious geared the tempo down in the second quarter of the dash, as they went on to trip the second timer in :58.4.

Sears called on Sportswriter in the third quarter, as he tipped his charge out of the hole and clicked off the three quarters while overland in 1:29.1. Sears and Sportswriter finished their mile off with increased speed, as the duo came home with a :26.4 final quarter en route to a one-length victory in 1:56. Malicious and Dr. Moore finished second, pacing their final quarter in :26.4 and overall mile in 1:56.1. Affleck, (110-1 in Spring Book) the Blair Burgess-trained son of Real Desire, finished third in Race 5.

Race 5 - Sportswriter - 1:56

"The colt handled well and had good manners," Sears told Trot Insider. "It would have been nice for the fractions to be a little faster, but my intentions were to race him out of a hole, and that we did accomplish. I feel he is still a few races away from being very sharp, but he does feel like a very nice horse."

In a post-race interview with Greg Blanchard of the Woodbine Entertainment Group, Coleman was asked for her assessment of the mile.

"We wanted to go a mile in (1:) 52 or 53 today. When I saw Malicious in here I thought we'd get those wicked fractions; he's usually pretty hot on the front-end I thought. So Brian said before that we'd tuck in behind him and sprint home -- mind you we thought the fractions would go a lot more."

In terms of what the near future holds for Sportswriter, Coleman said that he will be back next week.

"We'll be coming back and qualifying again next Thursday. We can't race off a mile in (1:) 56 -- I could've just left him at home and did that at the training centre. I wasn't really happy with the qualifying mile. It's not [that I was unhappy with] 'Sports.' Sports qualified as good as he could; he was very good, but I was not expecting 1:29.1 to the three quarter pole in a qualifier, that's for sure."

Although the time in which Coleman was looking for Sportswriter to go this morning did not come to fruition, the multiple O'Brien Award-winning trainer explained that she was pleased with her stable star.

"Brian said that he was steering great, pacing great. He said that when he moved him he made a big surge just when he went by everybody like Sports always does. Brian said that right at the wire he gave him a couple of reminder taps; but that's Sportswriter, he'll haul the competition down, but as soon as he thinks his work is done he thinks his work is done. Brian needed that to get used to him.

"I can't be any happier with Sports. As you can see here he's not blowing out a match. He's was very good, it's just that we could've gone to the front, I guess, but we'll have to come back next Thursday and 'give er' another whirl."

When asked whether or not today's qualifying outcome will throw off Sportswriter's schedule going forward, Coleman explained that she had readier herself for all possible scenarios.

"We were going to enter for a Three-Year-Old Open next week. I didn't think that they would fill it. I was hoping that they would, but we had planned that we'd qualify him for a third time if it (the Open) didn't go. It's not a big deal. Obviously I wanted a faster mile under him today, but listen, I could've stayed at home and done that at the training centre. I wasn't happy with a (1:) 56 mile, but nothing against Sportswriter. So we'll probably have to whack it out ourselves next week."

Blanchard also spoke with Dr. Moore afterward, and the trainer of Malicious shed some light on where he thinks his charge is in terms of health right now.

"He was a little bit flat today," he explained. "I may have come back with him a little too soon. It's actually been 22 days or more since he qualified in Florida. So since that time, to truck up and everything, he really hasn't -- other than jogging -- done a whole lot of training.

"He'll sit down on the front-end, anyway. I did that a bunch last year some times. He didn't seem right into it today like he normally is."

When asked where he will go from here with Malicious, Dr. Moore said it might be up in the air right now.

"I'm not sure. I'll have to think about it today. I may qualify him again, perhaps. It'll depend on how he comes out of this one first and I'll make a decision tomorrow."

Dr. Moore also explained that Malicious did have a health issue last weekend, one in which he thought the colt was over.

"He seemed to recover very quickly. He spiked a bit of a fever there on S