Wygant Prince certainly had decent credentials going in to the Billings Trot at Freehold Raceway on Saturday (May 10) but it didn’t appear that he was a ‘stick-out’ As he was rated second choice on the morning line at odds of 7-2. However, the bettors seemed to like the trotters chances and sent him off the odds-on 3-5 favorite and the horse and his talented amateur driver “Coach Paul” Minore solidified the backing supplied by the bettors and went wire to wire to win by two lengths in a time of 2:00.
Minore, a now retired high school coach whose most famous pupil was Carl Lewis, the track and field athlete and winner of 10 Olympic medals including nine Gold, drove like an Olympic champ himself.
“I figured I had a good chance and the bettors must have remembered that my horse won here (at Freehold Raceway) a month ago in (1) :58 and a piece, so as long as they had confidence in my horse I drove him like he was the best. And he was,” Minore remarked.
“Smokin’ Joe Faraldo, on the pylons with Rodeo Red, left like a runner and parked all comers, Wygant Prince included. After most settled in behind him Faraldo grabbed leather and let Minore take command.
“I saw that he (Minore) was 3-5 on the (tote) board so I let him go but we still smoked by the quarter in :28.3,” Faraldo related. “I thought if I followed him (Minore) I get a good trip. I did, but heading to the final turn my horse started to lag so I tapped him a bit, something I never have done to him. He’s racehorse sound but at that point he began to feel his aches and pains but he hung game and we did get third money.”
Bob “the Head-Hunter’ Heckhoff finished second but his trotter, Tagmaster, went a tough trip.
Riding along in third position Hechkoff moved Tagmaster first-up in the :59.3 half and they spent the remainder of the mile on the limb. Although Tagmaster and Wygant Prince raced side by side into the final turn Minore’s trotter was the strong horse in the lane and finished a two length winner over Hechkoff’s.
Owned by Minore and trained by Taylor Gower, Wygant Prince paid $3.20 for win.
Next Billing’s action in the east region will again be at Freehold Raceway on May 17. However, Thursday, May 15 there will be a Billings trot at Northfield Park in the series mid-west region.