Story by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA
FREEHOLD, NJ – July 24, 2015 -- James “Friday” Dean says it might have been ambitious to send lightly raced Split The House to the North America Cup earlier this year, but the trainer is looking forward to seeing the colt return to action against some of the best 3-year-old male pacers in North America in Saturday’s $200,000 Anthony Abbatiello SBOA New Jersey Classic at the Meadowlands.
Split The House drew post seven in the seven-horse field and is 9-2 on the morning line. Regular driver Randy Waples will make the trip from Ontario to New Jersey to drive the horse, who has posted six wins in eight starts this season.
New Jersey Sire Stake champion Artspeak, who was the 2014 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer, is the 8-5 morning line favorite in the New Jersey Classic. He will start from post five with Scott Zeron driving for trainer Tony Alagna.
Split The House was unraced as a 2-year-old because of a fractured pastern bone, but opened this year with four victories heading into the North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack in June. Split The House finished fourth in his North America Cup elimination, just missing out on advancing to the final, and a week later finished fourth in the North America Cup Consolation.
He bounced back from the setbacks by winning a preliminary leg and final of the Summertime Series at Mohawk.
“I think if the North America Cup wasn’t in our backyard I wouldn’t have raced him in it,” said Dean, who is based in Ontario and owns Split The House with Scott Horner and Peter Milligan. “We kind of threw him to the wolves a little early. He didn’t embarrass himself though and he rebounded well. He’s pretty sharp right now so we’ll take another crack at the big boys.”
Waples left no doubt of what he thought about Split The House following the Summertime final, which Split The House won by 2-3/4 lengths over Rockin In Heaven in 1:50.2.
“In my estimation he’s one of the best 3-year-olds out there, it’s just the truth,” Waples said. “He was kind of misbehaving a little bit behind the gate (in the North America Cup) and Friday put a screen on him and he’s just a different horse now. The last couple of weeks he seems like he’s turned a corner.
“I think he definitely deserves to be with (the Grand Circuit pacers). If you’ve got a good field of horses you can find one to follow and I just think this horse is going to go a big mile before the year is up.”
Split The House was purchased as a yearling under the name Current Course for $60,000. He is a son of Rocknroll Hanover out of the mare Shake That Junk, who raced for Dean and was successful on the Ontario circuit.
“We really liked the look of this colt,” Dean said. “Then he cracked a pastern behind and stood in a stall for four months. But he was really patient about it.
“But we really liked what we had seen from him (prior to his injury). He loved his work. He was a natural. He’s a real good horse to train.”
Split The House is staked to a number of major races, including the Battle of the Brandywine, Simcoe, Little Brown Jug, Bluegrass, and Breeders Crown.
“If we’re good enough, we’ll show up,” Dean said.
Artspeak heads to the New Jersey Classic off a sixth-place finish in the Meadowlands Pace last weekend. He was second in the Hempt Memorial on July 4 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and fifth in the North America Cup.
For the year, Artspeak has won three of eight races and earned $255,135 for owners Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Joe Sbrocco, and In The Gym Partners.
Dealt A Winner is the 5-2 second choice in the New Jersey Classic. He will start from post four with John Campbell driving for trainer Mark Silva. He was fourth in the Meadowlands Pace and a multiple stakes-winner in 2014.
Saturday’s Meadowlands card also includes the $100,000 Thomas D’Altrui SBOA Miss New Jersey for 3-year-old female pacers. The Show Returns is the 5-2 morning line favorite, starting from post seven with John Campbell driving for Chris Ryder.
The field for the $200,000 Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic [11th race] with drivers, trainers and morning line: 1-Pierce Hanover, Douglas McNair, Ken Sucee, 6-1; 2-Revenge Shark, Brett Miller Tony Alagna, 8-1; 3-Badix Hanover, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 20-1; 4-Dealt A Winner, John Campbell, Mark Silva, 5-2; 5 Artspeak, Scott Zeron, Tony Alagna, 8-5; 6-Hurrikane Ali, Jim Marohn Jr., John McDermott Jr., 10-1, and 10-Split The House, Randy Waples, James Dean, 9-2.
Pierce Hanover, Revenge Shark and Dealt A Winner are by Cam’s Card Shark; Badix Hanover and Artspeak are by Western Ideal; Hurrikane Ali and Split The House are by Rocknroll Hanover.
The field for the $100,000 Thomas D’Altrui Miss New Jersey [seventh race] with drivers, trainers and morning line: 1-Lindys Old Lady, Douglas McNair, Frank Antonacci, 6-1; 2-Thirty X, Vincent Ginsburg, Richard Silverman, 20-1; 3-Stacia Hanover, Scott Zeron, Steve Elliott, 3-1; 4-Cheyenne Robin, Randy Waples, Robert Siegelman, 20-1; 5-Strut My Stuff, Jim Marohn Jr, Ross Croghan, 15-1; 6-Happiness, Joe Bongiorno, Ron Burke, 10-1; 7-The Show Returns, John Campbell, Chris Ryder, 5-2; 8-Crescent City, Steve Smith, Chris Ryder. 12-1; 9-Ideal Nuggets, Mike Simons, Ed Lohmeyer, 8-1, and 10-Wicked Little Minx, Brett Miller, Nancy Johansson, 9-2.
Stacia Hanover, Strut My Stuff and Ideal Nuggets are by Western Ideal; all others by Rocknroll Hanover.