This time last year, trainer Gord Irwin wasn’t very optimistic when it came to his prized pacer, Bigtime Ball.
The 2009 O’Brien Award winner for Canada’s Older Pacer of the Year was trained down to 2:00 in the spring of 2011 in Florida, before suffering an injury to the gelding’s sesamoid bone, which caused him to be sidelined until the fall months.
The eight-year-old bay raced just six times last season and earned $52,000 in purses, but Irwin is confident better things are in store this year for the 36-time winner.
“He had an absolutely terrific winter at Southern Oaks Training Center and he’s been trained down to 2:08,” Irwin said. “We are back in Ontario now and everything seems great. In fact, ‘Ball’ arrived last night at Classy Lane (Training Center) and Paul [MacDonell] jogged him a few miles this morning.”
Bigtime Ball, an Ontario Sires Stakes graduate, has banked $1,436,673 in his career and holds an impressive speed badge of 1:48.2.
“He’s just in terrific shape right now,” Irwin said. “Things can always go bad in a hurry, just like what happened last year, but as of right now, everything is on schedule. With a little bit of luck, we should have a prosperous summer with him.”
Irwin is also in no hurry to qualify the son of Presidential Ball.
“We won't rush him," he said. “It will be at least three weeks before he qualifies and we will qualify him twice. He'll tell us when he’s ready.”
Bigtime Ball never posted a pari-mutuel start south of the border, and that plan will continue.
“He’s staked to pretty much everything in Canada,” he said. “We won’t go to the Molson Pace, but I staked him to races at Rideau Carleton, Georgian Downs and obviously the big races at Mohawk and Woodbine. His first test will be in the Gold Cup on June 16 at Mohawk.”
Bigtime Ball is also a half-brother to OSS graduate Invitro, who banked $2,383,597 lifetime.http://www.standardbredcanada.ca/news/4-18-12/having-ball.html