After a stint in the breeding shed, 7-year-old trotter Wishing Stone is ready to make his 2014 racing debut in a conditioned handicap Friday at the Meadowlands.
Wishing Stone received post 10 in the race and is 9-2 on the morning line. He enters the race off one qualifier, a 1:55.2 effort on June 20 with Yannick Gingras driving for trainer Ron Burke. Undercover Strike is the 3-1 favorite, followed by Mistery Woman at 7-2 and Spider Blue Chip at 4-1.
Wishing Stone stood as a stallion at Deo Volente Farms in New Jersey. He fulfilled contracts for 331 doses of frozen semen overseas as well as being bred to some 30 mares in North America.
Although it is common for trotters overseas to breed and race in the same season, that is not the case in North America. Some well-known successes abroad include Ready Cash, who is France's richest trotter in history in addition to being a popular sire, and Coktail Jet and Mack Lobell, who both won the prestigious Elitloppet after performing stud duties.
"It's a fun experiment and I think it's going to work,” said Mike Gulotta, the CEO of Deo Volente Farms and head of the Wishing Stone Syndicate ownership group. "Actually, the first part of it has worked. We're excited.”
Gulotta hopes to see Wishing Stone get a boost as a stallion thanks to a new bonus program at the Meadowlands for New Jersey-sired horses.
"I think now that people see that things will be changing in New Jersey, there will be a lot more interest in him and other Jersey stallions next year,” Gulotta said. "Sometimes people need to see that something is actually happening in order to commit.”
Wishing Stone is well known in Europe, having competed there at ages four and five; he won the French trotting race Grand Prix du Sud Ouest at 1 5/16 mile and also the King's Trophy in Sweden. He was second in the Gran Premio Continentale in Italy.
A year later, he captured the Copenhagen Cup in Denmark at a distance of 1 1/4 mile. He finished his European campaign with a second-place finish in the Jubilee Trophy for 5-year-old trotters in Sweden. He returned to the U.S. in August 2012 to continue his career in North America.
Lifetime, Wishing Stone has won 21 of 69 races and earned $2.23 million, making him the richest offspring of sire Conway Hall. He has won multiple stakes in the U.S., including the 2010 Kentucky Futurity in straight heats at Lexington's Red Mile.
"We'll see now how he races,” Gulotta said. "He looks good. I think he's gained weight and grown up a little, actually, which may be helpful to him. We're happy.” (HRC)