Millionaire pacing mare Monkey On My Wheel is gearing up for her aged campaign and after winning her first qualifier of 2012 on Thursday morning at Mohawk Racetrack, she is one step closer.
The Travis Umphrey pupil, who won the O’Brien Award as Canada’s top three-year-old pacing filly last year, got away second behind six-year-old mare Adaymer Seelster. She stayed in the pocket until driver Jody Jamieson was able to tip the Breeders Crown champion off the rail in the stretch to capture the qualifier in 1:55.4.
“She was very strong today and finished with a bit in her mouth,” said Umphrey of the mare, who has crafted a lifetime record of 10-11-1 in 25 outings with career earnings of $1,031,034. “Jody drove her great. He just sat with her and let her pace home. He was very happy with her.
“She has been tearing the barn down, so we had to start her back maybe a bit earlier than I planned,” he continued. “We were worried she might hurt herself.”
The plan is to qualify Monkey On My Wheel at least one more time.
“We will see how she is next week,” said the conditioner. “Jody said she was strong today. He said, ‘Travis, we are going to have to release her pretty soon.’ That’s nice to know that she finished strong and we will go from there.”
According to Umphrey, the four-year-old daughter of Mach Three-Legislation hasn’t changed much in stature compared to last year, but her attitude certainly has.
“She is a lot crankier this year. I really have to be careful around her, she recognizes my green suit,” he laughed. “She is also a lot more mature on the racetrack. We have been very happy with the progress so far.”
Monkey On My Wheel, who has a 1:49.3 speed badge set in her dazzling performance in the Breeders Crown at Woodbine, has a stakes-filled calendar ahead of her.
“[She is paid up to] everything here in Canada and also down at The Meadowlands she’s got the Lady Liberty and the Golden Girls in the summertime,” said Umphrey, who co-owns the bay with Mac Nichol of Burlington, Ont. “Her stakes schedule starts the first of June with the Ellamony at Flamboro and goes on right through. We’ll race her lightly up to that point and then go from there.”
The big question, Umphrey acknowledged, is if his mare can handle competing against aged company.
“I like what we see so far,” stated the Guelph, Ont. resident. “There are some good mares out there and I guess time will tell.”
Stablemates Gable Blue Chip, Twin B Wrangler and Solana Beach also qualified at the Campbellville, Ont. oval for Umphrey. Gable Blue Chip won his qualifier in 1:56, while Twin B Wrangler and Solana Beach finished third in their respective dashes.
“I was very happy,” he said. “We have a nice American Ideal colt that’s come back very well, Gable Blue Chip. He’s liked his time off and he is a gelding this year. He looks strong so far.”
The horseman is eager to see his trainees back in action.
“It has been a long two or three months for sure,” said Umphrey. “It is an exciting time of year to have these three-year-olds and her coming back. You look forward to this time of year. It is long days, but hopefully it pays off in the end.”
Gable Blue Chip and Twin B Wrangler are both eligible to the North America Cup and have been assessed at odds of 60-1 and 48-1 respectively in Trot Magazine's annual Spring Book, released in April's edition. Another Cup eligible at 60-1 Special Blend, trained by Ben Wallace, finished third to Gable Blue Chip.http://www.standardbredcanada.ca/news/4-5-12/no-monkeying-around.html