San Pail, the 2011 Horse of the Year in both the United States and Canada, won a qualifier at Mohawk Racetrack Thursday morning in his first appearance of the year. With Randy Waples driving, San Pail scored a 1:55.3 victory, besting by one length Canada's 2010 Two-Year-Old Colt Trotter of the Year Blue Porsche, who was also making his 2012 debut.
Scheduled to qualify last Thursday but scratched by trainer and co-owner Rod Hughes due to poor track conditions, San Pail got away fifth at the opening quarter and then worked his way up first-over toward the lead. San Pail took control at the three-quarters and then held the Blair Burgess-trained and driven Blue Porsche at bay to the wire.
Now eight, San Pail won 14 of 16 starts last year on his way to double Horse of the Year honors. He finished his season with seven consecutive victories, a streak that began with the $766,500 Maple Leaf Trot and ended with the $600,000 Breeders Crown Open Trot on Oct. 29. San Pail brings career earnings of $2,888,506 into 2012 for Hughes and co-owner and breeder Glenn Van Camp.
Hughes indicated earlier that San Pail will make his 2012 pari-mutuel debut in the opening round of the Glorys Comet Series on March 24 at Woodbine. The son of San Pellegrino is the defending Glorys Comet champion.
As for Blue Porsche, the 4-year-old son of Glidemaster followed up his award-winning freshman season with three victories last year that included the $353,940 Goodtimes final. The qualifier was his first racetrack appearance since last September.
In other qualifying action, the 2011 William Haughton Memorial winner Alexie Mattosie had to settle for a second-place finish in his seasonal debut, but it took a final quarter of :25.4 from an 8-year-old Down Under-bred who was making his first-ever appearance in North America to beat him.
Alexie Mattosie was driven by Paul MacDonell, and the 6-year-old son of No Pan Intended had the lead before getting caught in the final stride and coming up a nose short to the Doug McNair-driven Georgetown N in 1:53.2. Trained by co-owner Isaac Waxman, Georgetown N rallied from sixth to post the victory.
An 8-year-old son of Washington Vc, Georgetown N had made all of his career starts Down Under prior to Thursday's qualifier. His resume includes 12 victories and $382,093 in earnings.