Stakes-winner EL Titan has been absent from the Grand Circuit this season, but that is soon to change.
The 3-year-old male trotter, who won three of five starts last season, including divisions of the International Stallion Stakes and Madison County, made his 2014 debut earlier this month and is getting ready for the Simcoe Stakes and Canadian Trotting Classic, both at Mohawk Racetrack.
Riina Rekila, who trains EL Titan for breeder/owner Erkki Laakkonen, qualified EL Titan on July 4 at Mohawk, where he won in 1:57.4, but didn't see the colt make his first start until Aug. 9, when he was victorious by 4 1/2 lengths in 1:54.2 in a conditioned race at Mohawk.
"He had little issues, but we decided to start a little bit later with him,” Rekila said. "He was staked to the Hambletonian too, but I entered him in a few overnights here and they didn't use the class, so I just came late with him. I can't just go and race (in the Hambletonian) without any normal races.
"We hope he's good now until the end of the year.”
EL Titan is by Muscle Hill out of the mare Courtney Hall, a stakes-winning full sister to millionaire Cameron Hall. EL Titan is Courtney Hall's fourth foal and the previous three -- EL Rock, Appomattox and EL Rocket -- each earned at least $233,000. Appomattox, who finished second in the 2012 Kentucky Futurity, leads the group with $414,548.
Last year, EL Titan won his division of the International Stallion Stakes by a neck over Trixton in 1:53.4. The time was fifth fastest among all 2-year-old male trotters last season. He also finished second to Father Patrick in a division of the Champlain Stakes.
"I really liked him,” Rekila said. "He's lazy training, so you can't tell too much. We were very surprised he raced that well (on Aug. 9) because he had only one qualifier. At home, I just train him under saddle or on my sand track. I don't train him too fast, so I was happy he went (1):54 pretty easy at Mohawk.”
Rekila drove EL Titan as a 2 year old, but Chris Christoforou was in the sulky for the colt's first start this season. Rekila hopes Christoforou will drive EL Titan again in the Simcoe, which is Aug. 30.
"If he doesn't take him, I'll take him,” Rekila said with a laugh. "I like Chris. He's nice with the horse and he's one of the best drivers up here.
"I like to drive 2 year olds because maybe they are not so handy to drive,” she added in explaining why she gave up her seat behind EL Titan this year. "I know them, so it is easier.”
Following the Simcoe and Canadian Trotting Classic, EL Titan's stakes schedule includes the American National, Galt, Yonkers Trot, and Breeders Crown.
"I'm racing him lightly because we would like him to race as a 4 year old as well, maybe when he's a little older,” Rekila said. "The owner is the nicest person ever, so we can do whatever we want. He doesn't want me to push the horse. If there are issues we can wait and race the horse whenever he's ready. We just want to have a nice horse.
"I like him,” she added about EL Titan. "They're all horses, so you never know, but I think he's a very nice horse.” (HRC)