Valley Victory Likely Favorite in Hambletonian
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ Arlene Traub became interested in harness racing when she saw the name of the great pacer, Niatross in lights.
But it will be a trotter named Valley Victory who will keep Traub in the figurative spotlight this coming week.
Valley Victory should be favored to win the 64th Hambletonian next Saturday at the Meadowlands.
Valley Victory was unbeaten in his first seven starts going into Saturday night’s prep for the Hambletonian in the Beacon Course Trot at the Meadowlands.
Another major Hambletonian contender is Peace Corps, who could become the 13th filly to win the race, but only the third in the last 30 years. The last was Duenna in 1983.
In 1981, Traub and her husband, Murray, of New York, were in the Catskill Mountains and decided to go the races one night at Monticellow Raceway.
It was there she saw in lights a promo for an upcoming appearance of Niatross.
″The bright lights caught my eye and kind of peaked my interest,″ she said. ″It sat on my mind for about a year. When I was looking for something else to do, I decided to try harness racing.″
She doesn’t approach the sport as a hobby. She picks her yearlings and pays close attention to the operation of her stable. Currently, she has 14 horses.
″I’ve never really been a person to tell me what to do,″ she said. ″I listen to suggestions.″
She bought her first two yearlings in the fall of 1982 and has been very successful, in buying, racing and selling.
She bought Red Colt for $13,500 and sold him after he had earned $500,000 through his 4-year-old campaign.
Like most people in harness racing in the United States, Traub concentrates on pacers. Most of the races in this country are for pacers, who are less difficult to train.
She was aware, however, of the Scandavian interest in successful trotters. So she decided to buy one trotter a year.
One year she bought Skywatch Lobell as a yearling for $38,000. He earned $120,000 and she sold him for $325,000.
Traub paid $60,000 for Valley Victory, who earned $225,724 with four wins and one second in seven starts last year. One of those wins was in the Breeders Crown.
Valley Victory’s first seven wins this year were worth $259,583.
The colt, who is trained by Steve Elliott and driven by Bill O’Donnell, has won the Yonkers Trot, which is the first leg of the Trotting Triple Crown. The other two are the Hambletonian and Kentucky Futurity at the Red Mile in Lexington.
In winning his Breeders Crown race at Pompano Park Nov. 12 in 1:58 1-5 the colt set a world record for a 2-year-old trotting colt on a five-eighths-mile track. This year he has the fastest times so far on one-half, five-eighths and mile tracks.
″He’s the greatest horse I’ve ever had,″ Traub said.
Good enough, that she owns now owns two 2-year-old trotters.
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