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

Play Trix On Me is hitting his stride heading into Matron

Thursday, November 12, 2020  By: Paul Ramlow


Trenton, NJ — After nearly flying to a comeback win against Amigo Volo in the Breeders Crown last month, Play Trix On Me will try to close the deal this time around. Starting from post seven, trainer Linda Toscano’s colt takes aim at Amigo Volo once again Thursday (Nov. 12) in the $162,350 Matron Stakes 3-year-old colt-and-gelding trot at Dover Downs.

With Joe Bongiorno finding an inside path, Play Trix On Me closed furiously and the 27-1 shot forced the favorite into a photo finish before settling for second at Harrah’s Hoosier Park Oct. 31. Bolstered by that performance, Toscano looks for another competitive race in Delaware.

Play Trix On Me is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. Amigo Volo is the 9-5 favorite.

“By far Amigo Volo is the hose to beat,” she said. “He’s one of the stars of the division and he’s as consistent as the day is long.

“But (Play Trix On Me) came within an inch of beating him in the Breeders Crown. I believe he’s got a good shot, he’s got to get a good trip and things have to work out. He’s coming into it sharp and happy. I’m not vain or cocky enough to say he can go out there and beat him but I certainly know he can go with him.”

Back Of The Neck, who upset Amigo Volo in a Bluegrass division at Lexington, is another top challenger.

With four wins, seven seconds and $433,843 in earnings over 14 season’s starts, Play Trix On Me started to find his stride when Bongiorno became his regular driver four races ago. During that time he has won twice to go along with the Breeders Crown place, and is coming off a victory in a career best 1:53 in the Carl Erskine Memorial at Hoosier Park last week.

He also won his second straight New Jersey Sire Stakes final in July with Scott Zeron in the sulky. Zeron was one of seven drivers this season behind the colt, who was lightly staked by his previous owners before Renee Spahr bought him in July 2019.

"I can’t blame the drivers,” Toscano said. “He wasn’t staked at all and that’s through no fault of his current owners. The drivers kind of stayed with horses that were Hambletonian eligible. So he’s been bopping from driver to driver to driver, so no real driver has gotten used to him.

“Joey had not been in the 3-year-old ranks and we asked him to go down and drive him (in an Oct. 15 overnight at Hoosier) and they clicked together. He’s been driving him since and they’ve been very, very good together. Things worked out well.”

Bred by Steve Jones and sired by Trixton out of Lima Playmate, the horse was a $4,500 yearling purchase at the 2018 Goshen Yearling Sale.

He had an excellent 2-year-old campaign with five wins in six starts and $122,100 in earnings. In seeing what he accomplished in his first four career starts (all wins), Toscano was all in when it came time for Spahr to make the purchase.

“He won by open lengths every start,” the Hall of Famer said. “He had dominated his New Jersey Sire Stakes when they bought him last year, so he had just gone through 2-year-olds and gone fast and dominated. I got him after the Sire Stakes. They bought him with the intentions of racing him lightly, shutting him down and bringing him back this year and that’s exactly what we did.”

And while the horse seems to have hit another level, Toscano feels it has been a solid campaign throughout. After suffering an equipment malfunction in the Goodtimes final he bounced back to take second in the Canadian Trotting Classic.

And now, with Bongiorno in the bike, the colt is hitting his stride.

“This is a horse that’s always been knocking at the door, unfortunately everybody that’s driven him has driven him for the first time, and we’d have to start him all over with another driver,” Toscano said. “Just having a consistent driver has made a huge difference. On top of it, he’s lightly raced because he was not heavily staked. So at the end of the year fresh legs seem to win races. So it’s worked to his advantage.

“He’s been real good. Every time he’s had a big race to go in he’s given us his best effort. He’s been kind of peaking. Things have finally come together at the last minute. He’s been very, very good his last few starts.”

Toscano noted he “was very noisy and very colty,” when she first began working with him in the barn, but eventually became a pleasure to deal with. As far as how he prefers to drive, it doesn’t really matter.

"He’s pretty multidimensional at this point,” the trainer said. “He can race on the lead, he can race from the back. His technical gate speed works in his favor. He’s a pretty easy horse to race that way. Just put him in the race and he’s good to go.”

Dover on Thursday features four Matron Stakes for 3-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. In addition to the 3-year-old colt trot, the 3-year-old colt pace carries a purse of $179,600, the 3-year-old filly trotters will race for $163,050, and the 3-year-old filly pacers will race for $154,450.

For complete entries for the races, click here. Post time is 4:30 p.m.

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