Washington, PA — T C I, who last year achieved one of the most amazing seasons ever by a freshman trotter, begins his quest for even greater gold and glory when he launches his sophomore campaign in Friday’s (May 31) $145,272 Pennsylvania Sires Stake, known as the Super Bowl, at Hollywood Casino at The Meadows.

The card also features a $100,000 PA Stallion Series event for 3-year-old colt and gelding trotters. First post is 5:10 p.m.

T C I banked $1,238,870 for his freshman year. Chris Gooden photo.

T C I not only won Pennsylvania’s sires stake championship, but he also took the Mohawk Million, the Peter Haughton Memorial and the William Wellwood Memorial, banking $1,238,870 for the year. Only one trotter in harness racing history earned more at 2; that would be Snow White, who won $1,252,646 in 2007. T C I put together a 10-race winning streak leading to the Breeders Crown. In virtually any other year, T C I would have been a shoe-in for the divisional Dan Patch Award.

As luck would have it, a 2-year-old colt named Karl was compiling his own gaudy statistics. When the two finally squared off in the Breeders Crown with Karl defeating T C I by three lengths, it assured Karl divisional honors and sent him over $1 million in earnings. It was the first time two juvenile trotters eclipsed $1 million in the same year.

Ron Burke, who trains T C I, doesn’t hide his disappointment in the way the season ended, but he’s looking forward to the renewal of the rivalry.

“It would be great for the sport if these two battle it out for the next two years. That would be really special,” he said.

Burke was drawn to the son of Cantab Hall-Nicole’s Promise at the Standardbred Selected Yearling Sale because Burke had trained the colt’s brother, the ill-fated Global Pandemic, a star at 2 who colicked and died after his freshman season. Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Hatfield Stables and Knox Services Inc. gave $150,000 for the youngster while Bud Hatfield re-christened him T C I after the auto magnate’s favorite vacation spot, Turks and Caicos Islands.

Burke, who has trained many top trotters, is lavish in his praise for T C I.

“He’s probably the best trotter I’ve had at this point in his career with the exception of Mission Brief. She was more dynamic, but he’s probably the smartest baby I’ve ever trained. He just doesn’t make a mistake.”

Burke says he deliberately bypassed some of this year’s early stakes action.

“He had a long year, and this will be another long year,” Burke says. “Nothing has gone wrong, so we’ve stuck to the plan.”

T C I goes from post three, race six, with David Miller aboard.

Another horse to watch in the Super Bowl has gone about things in a decidedly different way. Blackhawk Zette (race four, post two, Matt Kakaley) had a single win in four starts at 2 with a modest 1:59 mark. But trainer Robert Baggitt Jr. saw enough of the son of Cantab Hall-Zette Starlet to purchase him privately for owner JL Sadowsky LLC at the end of his freshman campaign.

The change has been dramatic. Blackhawk Zette won the $50,000 final of the Bobby Weiss series at Pocono, sweeping the preliminary legs, then finished second in the Dexter Cup, the most prestigious early-season trot for 3-year-olds. He’s already banked $110,725 this year. Needless to say, Baggitt is thrilled with the improvement.

“I liked his breeding,” Baggitt says, “but what I really liked was that he was lightly raced at 2. He showed speed, and he wasn’t abused at all.

“Still, we didn’t know what we had. He’s a nice-gaited horse, and his manners are impeccable. But he trained good rather than great. Now, we’re happy with what we have so far.”

Blackhawk Zette is not Hambletonian eligible, but Baggitt says he may supplement to rich stakes if the colt proves competitive at top levels.


Original Source Credited to ustrottingnews.com

Cover Photo Credit to Chris Gooden

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