After extending his career undefeated streak to 25 races on Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack, the question of where he will attempt to increase that total
to 26 is uncertain as of Monday morning as owner John Barnard weighed his options.
St Elmo Hero returned from a five-week layoff on April 2 to extend his career-long win streak to 25 races with a triumph at Woodbine. The five-year-old pacer won Saturday by 1-3/4 lengths over Rock Me Please in 1:51.1 in the $28,000 Preferred 2 Pace to improve to 6-for-6 this season and increase his career earnings to $216,950. Jody Jamieson handled the driving for Meg Crone, who is training the horse in Canada.
“I want to make sure the horse is in good shape before I make any decisions,” Barnard said from Canada. “The horse doesn’t need to race this weekend, anyway. I just want to make sure everything is fine with him. He came out of the race great from what I can see. We’re taking it slow with him; I don’t want to go faster than I need to.”
St Elmo Hero was scratched from the Cam Fella series at Woodbine because of illness, at which time an infection caused by a quarter crack was discovered.
“There is always a concern when you have a horse off five weeks, but Meg and Anthony (Haughan) did a great job getting the horse ready,” Barnard said. “I’ve raced this horse off of layoffs in the past. We just couldn’t get him ready for the Spring Championship (won April 2 by Hypnotic Blue Chip at Woodbine). It just didn’t work out.
“We took it slow with him and made sure he was right. Jody protected the horse real nice; it was the kind of race he needed. I was very happy with the results, obviously.”
Barnard, who is from Illinois, said St Elmo Hero’s next stakes race will be the Graduate in early May at the Meadowlands. In the meantime, the horse could race in Canada or the Midwest, with Indiana being a possibility. Of course, the future of the Meadowlands’ racing season will impact Barnard’s decisions.
“We keep taking them one at a time; that’s all I can do,” Barnard said. “Once I got him here in Canada, I wanted to get him a race here, which I accomplished. I originally planned on going back to Illinois and then taking him to Indiana to race him. Then, eventually, he will be heading back east.
“A lot of my plans center around the Meadowlands and (driver) Tim Tetrick. Jody did a nice job with the horse on Saturday. If Jody were available to drive, I could use Jody as the driver. I have not made a commitment one way or another. If I race him in Canada, I would want either Jody or Tim to drive him. If Jody is not available because of prior commitments, it would require Tim coming up here.”
Barnard is in no rush to push St Elmo Hero, who was unraced until last July. Barnard got the horse out of a claiming race at Chicago’s Balmoral Park in his first start and has since seen St Elmo Hero win series finals at Indiana Downs, Harrah’s Chester and the Meadowlands.
“He’s still kind of a green horse in a lot of ways,” Barnard said. “He’s only been doing this for about eight months and we’re asking a lot out of him. I’ve got all the confidence in the world in this horse, but I want to take him in reasonable steps.”
So far in his career, St Elmo Hero has shown no signs of disliking travel. He has won at five different racetracks both north and south of the border.
“He probably travels better than I do,” Barnard joked. “He’s been good at that.”
Barnard tries to keep St Elmo Hero’s win streak out of the decision-making process. According to U.S. Trotting Association records, Carty Nagle holds the sport’s longest winning streak. The pacer won 41 consecutive races from 1937-38. Hall of Fame pacer Bret Hanover holds the mark for most wins to begin a career, having won his first 35 races in 1964-65.
“I’m just letting the horse tell me where he needs to go next,” Barnard said. “We still don’t know how good he is. If he continues to progress, he’s obviously going to move up and go against some of the better horses in the country. I just want to keep him sound and keep him racing. I’m trying to do what’s best for the horse. If the horse is ready to go and the right race is out there, I’ll go with it.”
This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit ustrotting.com.