FREEHOLD, NJ – May 2, 2015 – Habitat, the 1-2 favorite, brushed to the lead by the quarter pole and from there the outcome was not in doubt as he coasted to a three and three-quarter length victory in the $133,170 Dexter Cup, the featured tenth race on Saturday, May 2, 2015 at Freehold Raceway.
Yannick Gingras was at the lines as Habitat crossed the wire in 1:56.4 and paid $3.
Divisionist was second and it was five and a half lengths to Gabe The Bear Dean in third.
The 56th edition of the Dexter Cup is the first major stakes for three-year-old trotters on the road to the $1 million Hambletonian on August 8 at the Meadowlands.
“I like it that way, perfect for me,” said winning driver Gingras. “I just had to worry about the first turn, but once he was through there I know there would be no catching him. In the backstretch, I could tell they were coming a little bit so I just opened him up a little so I wouldn’t have to rush him in the last turn. He was never in doubt.”
Habitat, a son of Conway Hall – Habit’s Best, bred by Frederica Caldwell, was making his season’s debut and improved his career record to eight wins, two seconds and two thirds from 14 starts, lifting his career bankroll to $600,992 for the ownership of Burke Racing Stable LLC of Fredericktown, PA; Our Horse Cents Stables of Clifton Park, NY and Weaver Bruscemi LLC of Canonsburg, PA.
Habitat is trained by Ron Burke.
“It was a waltz around, which is great for his first start,” said Burke’s assistant trainer Shannon Murphy. “He didn’t have to get stressed out at all and he did everything right. A half mile track, he only raced once on it last year and he made a break, and we were a little concerned, but once Yannick scored him down he gave me the thumbs up.
“He raced on a bad track at Buffalo (as a two-year-old) so we decided not to race him on a half and just stuck to the big races so it worked out because he made so much money ($534,407),” Murphy noted. “He filled out (last year to this) and didn’t get really much bigger, but he’s matured mentally and we’re hoping for a big year with him.”
By Carol Hodes for SBOANJ [with quotes courtesy of Ellen Harvey, HRC/USTA