Until recently, Staffan Lind figured if he was ever going to win a million-dollar race, it would be with a trotter. But that could change Saturday.
Lind, a native of Sweden known for his work with stakes-winning trotters such as Celebrity Secret, Celebrity Deville, and Celebrity Bombay, sends Beat The Drum into Saturday's $1 million North America Cup for 3-year-old pacers at Mohawk Racetrack.
Beat The Drum finished second to Lyonssomewhere in his North America Cup elimination last weekend, covering the final quarter in :25.4 to rally from fifth place and advance to the final. Beat The Drum will start from post one with driver Yannick Gingras and is 20-1 on the morning line.
The long odds don't concern Lind.
"He raced good (in his elimination) and came out of the race good,” Lind said. "Hopefully he can do alright next week. He woke up. I knew he wasn't going to be ready for a couple races, but he woke up in the (New Jersey) Sire Stakes final and came home really good. That's why we took a shot.”
Beat The Drum finished third in the New Jersey Sires Stakes championship, again closing with a fast final quarter of :25.4 as he rallied from seven lengths back to miss by two.
For his career, Beat The Drum has won three of 17 starts, hit the board a total of eight times, and earned $164,574. He won a division of the Reynolds Stakes at Tioga Downs last September and capped his 2-year-old campaign with a fourth-place effort in the Governor's Cup. He is owned by Bender Sweden Inc.
Beat The Drum, purchased for $17,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale, is a son of 2007 North America Cup winner Tell All out of the mare Pop Diva. His family includes stakes-winner Art's Conquest.
"I think he has developed mentally a lot from last year,” Lind said. "That's the biggest part. He's more racy now. He's always been good gaited and strong. Some of the other horses may have a quicker turn of speed, but he came home :25.4 again and you can't ask much more than that.”
Only once has Beat The Drum been better than third in the opening quarter of any race and only twice has he held the lead at the half (and he won both those races). Lind, though, was pleased with Beat The Drum's ability to get good position in his North America Cup elimination and is hoping for a repeat.
"He hasn't been able to leave (the starting gate) that good, that's why he always comes off the pace, but in the last race I thought he got away pretty good without being used,” Lind said. "Hopefully he can get to position this time. He's a strong horse. For him, it's probably better when they go fast. I think he'll be alright.”
As for getting a million-dollar win with a pacer rather than a trotter, Lind laughed.
"I wouldn't have thought it,” he said, "but I'd take it.” (HRC)