Maybe it was the food on the plane, or a little jet lag, but something didn’t agree with Wishing Stone after his trip back from Europe to the United States.
Whatever it was, he got over it.
“He seems the same now,” trainer-owner Dewayne Minor said. “When he first came back, he was a little angry. But now he’s gotten settled in and is more like himself.
“I’m looking forward to next year, seeing him have a good year next year. He’s staying here.”
Before getting started on next season, the five-year-old Wishing Stone will complete this year in Saturday’s American-National Stakes for older trotters at Balmoral Park after skipping the Breeders Crown due to health issues. Entries for the American-National closed late Wednesday morning.
A multiple-stakes winner and winner of $1.83 million in his career, Wishing Stone had a lengthy stay in Europe, where he began racing at the end of his three-year-old season. He won six of his final eight starts that season, including the Kentucky Futurity, the Matron Stakes and the American-National for three-year-old male trotters.
During his pop across the pond, the trotter won the French trotting race at Grand Prix du Sud Quest at 1-5/16 mile, took the Kings Trophy in Sweden and won the Copenhagen Cup. He was second in the Gran Premio Continentale in Italy and second in his European finale – the Jubilee Trophy for five-year-old trotters in Sweden on Aug. 15.
Wishing Stone returned to Lexington’s Red Mile in late August and, after several days in quarantine, began getting his Yankee Doodle Dandy legs back.
In his first start in the States, Wishing Stone finished fourth in the Allerage Farms Open Trot, behind Chapter Seven, Mister Herbie and Arch Madness, on Oct. 7 at The Red Mile. His time was 1:51.2, which equalled his career-best mark that he took in winning the final heat of the 2010 Kentucky Futurity at The Red Mile.
“I thought he was fantastic,” said Minor, who owns the Wishing Stone with TLP Stable, Deo Volente Farms and Jerry Silva. “To be off six weeks and come back off one qualifier and trot back to his lifetime mark was great. That was fantastic.
“It gave me some incentive that he would be competitive with the aged group. We’re going to finish the year out with the American-National and prepare for next year.”
The original plan was for Wishing Stone to race in the Breeders Crown, but considering a high temperature and all he had been through, Minor thought it best to keep him out.
“He had a fever and he wasn’t just right,” the trainer said. “I didn’t think it would be a good thing to try to race him there. He had to be at a hundred per cent to go at that level.
“I think it was the best thing not to try him in there, but to get him well enough to finish out the year right.”
Minor was encouraged by Wishing Stone’s most recent performance, a second-place finish in the Preferred at Woodbine Oct. 29.
“He raced on a bad night, with 60 mile an hour winds,” noted the trainer. “It was minus-one [temperature] with the wind. He got away fourth and came first up and then hit that sharp wind, which kind of took it away from him. He only got beat by a neck, so he raced good that night.”
All things considered, Minor likes what he is seeing from a horse he says “is such a pleasure to be around."
“Right now he’s doing good,” Minor said. “He trained good before I left Canada; he trained back in :56 and was acting like his old self. He’s preparing for the American-National. We’ll see how we draw and we’ll go from there. But I think he’s in good shape right now.”
This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.