Yannick Gingras knows Cannibal has physical talent, but what he most enjoys about the three-year-old male pacer is between the colt’s ears.
“He’s got the ability, the skill, but he’s also got the brain to let me do what I want to do with him,” said Gingras. “That’s a big edge. He’s very easy on himself, easy to drive; you can do whatever you want with him. He has great speed, but his brain and his versatility are what make him the horse that he is.”
Cannibal, trained by Nancy Takter, will look to end his career on a winning note when he meets seven rivals in Wednesday’s $260,000 Progress Pace at Bally’s Dover. The colt, who won one of last week’s two eliminations, will start from post four and is the 5-2 morning-line favourite. Stockade Seelster, the other elim winner, will leave from post eight and is 7-2.
“We got lucky with a good post,” said Gingras. “It’s a great spot at that track. Post four gives me options. Most likely, we’re going to be going forward out of the gate, but then you see how many other leavers are out there, who’s doing what, and you decide what to do from there.”
Cannibal has hit the board in 16 of 18 races this year, winning 12 and earning $640,942. He is tied for seventh in victories among all three-year-old pacers in North America and ranks fourth among all male three-year-old pacers for U.S. earnings. His best win time of 1:48.1 puts him tied for fourth among the sophomore boys.
The colt began this season in the Pennsylvania Stallion Series, where he went two-for-two before heading to the Grand Circuit and Kentucky Sire Stakes. Gingras started driving Cannibal in July and, in 13 races, has posted eight wins and a total of 12 top-three finishes.
Their six Grand Circuit scores together include the Adios final, divisions of the Bluegrass Stakes and Tattersalls Pace, and an elimination of the Little Brown Jug. They were second in the Hap Hansen Matron Stakes and third in the Breeders Crown.
“He’s had a great year,” said Gingras. “He might have overachieved a little bit from what people were expecting at the beginning of the year, but he’s delivered each and every time. He’s definitely been a pleasant pickup. He’s a very nice horse. I like everything about him.”
Cannibal, a son of Sweet Lou-No More Losses bred and owned by Diamond Creek, will retire to stallion duty after this season. He heads to the Progress Pace final off a nose elimination victory over Why Not Now in 1:51.
“I thought he was good, probably not great, but he got the job done,” said Gingras. “The first quarter was pretty hot [:26.1] and he was a little bit tired the last sixteenth. But he’s in good form and I think he’s going to have a good chance. I wouldn’t trade him for anybody else, that’s for sure.”
Racing begins at 4:30 p.m. (EST) at Dover. For a free race program, click here.
(With files from USTA)