Corey Callahan will drive Hot Shot Blue Chip (post three--odds 8-1) in the $600,000 Breeders Crown for older trotters at Woodbine Racetrack this Saturday. Callahan is the 18th driver to compete with the speedy but inconsistent gelding.
The 6-year-old winner of nearly $1.2 million has vexed his connections (trainer Jonas Czernyson and owner Thomas Dillon of Anson, Maine) with brilliant performances followed by multiple races in which he makes breaks, a pattern that has held for years. Callahan has driven the horse three consecutive times with no breaks, a rare accomplishment.
"Jonas asked if I would go to Vernon and drive him there (in the $200,000 Credit Winner Stake on Sept. 7),” said Callahan. "There were only four horses in there so I felt pretty good about my chances. The last time I'd driven him, at the Meadowlands, even though he went a big first half, the whole time I was saying, ‘whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa (trying to keep him on stride).'
"He's got a lot of talent, but I think he likes getting out of work if he can. He's a very smart horse. Me, I prefer a dumb horse, because every time you tip them, they just go. It's probably why he's had so many drivers. I was joking with Jonas in Lexington, he was asking me about Googoo Gaagaa (a 14 for 17 3-year-old for whom Callahan is regular driver). I told him next year he was going to be racing in all of these races like Hotshot was in. His wife (Christine) was there and said, ‘We're going to need a new driver.' I said, ‘Well, that's no big deal, Hotshot needs a new driver all the time.'”
Callahan says that even though Hot Shot Blue Chip does not have eyes on the back of his head, he seems to sense who is driving him and what he might be able to get away with.
"He picks up on your tricks and learns how to take advantage of you, too,” says Callahan. "Knock on wood, I'm hoping he doesn't pick up on me just yet. I think he just wants to not have to work that hard. We need to be on our "A” game this week.
"He's been really good the last few starts. The last start at Lexington (in the $131,200 Allerage Stake), he left good, he felt good, when I turned Timmy (Tetrick, driving the race winner Chapter Seven) loose he wasn't even trotting right. He was all jammed up and felt like he was tied up in a ball. He wasn't stretching out, his gait was terrible. I said something to Jonas, he checked him out and turns out he had tied up (had muscle cramps). Here he is, shows you what kind of athlete he is, he trotted in 1:52.2 (to be fifth) and he wasn't on top of his game.
"He shocked a lot of people that day (the Credit Winner), beating Chapter Seven, other than Jonas and the horse's owner. The horse has a lot of talent, but he just doesn't always want to use it. He can trot very, very fast and is naturally gifted. He's made a million dollars; he's done the right thing enough times to make that money.”
Callahan says the addition of Commader Crowe will likely change the complexion of the Breeders Crown race.
"This will be a very interesting race. I've never seen a horse that can take the kind of air that horse (Commander Crowe) does. He just loves it and never goes away. It's going to make things interesting. I like it. If I was Chapter Seven, I might not like it. That horse will come in there and throw a wrinkle into the race.”(Harness Racing Communications)