Wake Up Peter is stirring at The Meadowlands. The four-year-old pacer, who was winless in 19 starts at the sport’s top level last season, brings a three-race victory streak to Saturday’s opening round of the Clyde Hirt Series at the Big M.
Wake Up Peter races in the third of three $20,000 divisions, starting from post nine with driver Scott Zeron, and is the 7-5 morning line favourite. The series, which concludes March 29 with a $75,000 estimated final, is for three and four-year-old male pacers that had fewer than three wins or $75,000 lifetime prior to Dec. 16.
Although Wake Up Peter ended last year with $596,766 in career purses, he had just two wins. Last year, he banked $309,741 despite going winless in his 19 starts -- and no three-year-old pacer in history has ever earned as much money while failing to win a race. He was third in the North America Cup, Cane Pace and American-National Stakes.
Wake Up Peter started 2014 with a win on Jan. 18 in a conditioned race at the Meadowlands, which was sort of a parting gift to trainer Tony Alagna and owners Wake Up Peter Partners, Brittany Farms, Andy Willinger and Eagles Soar Partners. Two days later, the connections put the horse through the auction ring at the Meadowlands January Select Mixed Sale presented by Tattersalls.
Brad Grant of Milton, Ont. bought Wake Up Peter for $210,000 and turned the horse over to trainers Ray and Larry Remmen. A month later, Wake Up Peter won his debut for his new barn. He followed up with another victory March 4 at Yonkers, pushing his earnings this year to $24,250.
“So far he’s been a nice addition,” said Larry Remmen. “There’s nothing flashy to him, he’s just a nice big horse, and pleasant to be around.
“I think this is a situation where everyone can do well. I think we got a nice horse and the former owners were able to make money with him and then get a good price for him.”
Last year, Wake Up Peter spent much of the campaign chasing his famous stablemate Captaintreacherous, who captured 13 of 16 races and was named U.S. Pacer of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Due to his limited number of wins, Wake Up Peter was able to start this year in conditioned races rather than having to face open-caliber competition right off the bat.
“He didn’t have to jump right into the fire and face [top] older horses, so that’s been a help,” said Remmen. “But he’s no surprise. Everything that Tony [Alagna] said about the horse is true. He was no match for [Captaintreacherous], but he might have won some of his other races if he’d had a little bit better luck.”
In addition to the Clyde Hirt Series, Wake Up Peter was eligible to the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series at Yonkers. The connections decided to keep Wake Up Peter at the Meadowlands because Grant is planning to send Apprentice Hanover and Word Power to the Levy.
“We thought the [Hirt] was a better spot,” said Remmen. “Plus a lot is decided by post positions at the Levy. This worked out well.”
Remmen said Wake Up Peter was ready to go soon after joining his new stable, but was kept out of action so he could remain eligible to the Whata Baron Series that follows the Clyde Hirt. The Whata Baron Series is for non-winners of four races or $175,000.
“It was tough not to race him, especially when you’ve got a nice horse sitting there,” said Remmen. “He’s eligible for most races [later in the year], but we’ve got to pick our spots.”
This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.