Well Built looks to bounce back from going off stride in the Dexter Cup elimination at Freehold on April 26 when he faces 10 rivals in Friday's $51,543 John Simpson Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters at Meadowlands Racetrack.
Part of a Chris Ryder-trained entry with Walk The Walk, Well Built is 7-2 on the morning line and will start from post 1 with driver John Campbell.
The field also includes, in post order, Sarcastic Man, It Really Matters, Lukas Hall, Deweykeepumnwhy, Keystone Wasabi, Who Wants Soup, Hot Type, Flyhawk El Durado, Trixton, and (from the second tier) Walk The Walk. Trixton is the 5-2 morning line favorite from post 10.
Last year, Well Built won a division of the Simpson and his elimination for the Matron Stakes. He is a son of Muscle Hill, who was the 2009 Horse of the Year, and his dam is Working Girl, who is a half-sister to stakes-winner Poster Pin Up.
"He got jammed up in the Dexter,” said Ryder, who owns Well Built with Robert Mondillo. "I was mortified about that. But he's fine; he's training fine.
"I like the horse. He's got good speed. He doesn't usually make a break. I'm not going to say he's reliable – he was just unreliable – but he shouldn't have made a break. He had a horse alongside him and got a little anxious.”
Walk The Walk, owned by Ryder, Mondillo, Sidney Korn and Max Wernick, was unraced as a 2 year old. The son of Muscle Hill-Letsjustalkaboutme has won two of four starts and $13,500 this season.
"He's coming out of weaker company, but I like him,” Ryder said. "He just didn't make it last year. He was ouchy last year, a big growthy horse. But here he is. I like the horse. He's alright. He might be a little understaked for what I think he might be, but we'll see. He's still immature. He'll be a good 4 year old, I think.”
Ryder's Odds On Amethyst, owned by Diamond Creek Racing, is not eligible to the Simpson and is preparing for the start of the New Jersey Sire Stakes on May 16 at the Meadowlands. The gelding is a son of Muscle Hill out of the standout mare Mystical Sunshine, who was trained by Ryder during her racing career.
"I'm really looking at the Hambletonian with that horse,” Ryder said about stakes-winning Odds On Amethyst, who made his 2014 debut on May 2 by winning in 1:53.2. "I'm not going to say he's a top one, but he's got a shot. I think he's going to improve on his (1):53. I know he's going to have to, but I think he will. If he gets much better he's right there.
"He's been a bit of a problem child. He's his own worst enemy,” Ryder added. "The last two or three weeks he's improved. He's starting to realize he's a racehorse.”
Trixton, the Simpson favorite, finished second to Odds On Amethyst on May 2, also in his seasonal debut. Trixton is a son of Muscle Hill out of the mare Emilie Cas El, who was Canada's Horse of the Year in 1994. Trixton's family also includes past stars Andover Hall, Conway Hall and Angus Hall.
Flyhawk El Durado, trained by Mark Ford for owner Martin Scharf, was the New York Sire Stakes champion last season and also captured a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes. He finished third in the May 2 race that included Odds On Amethyst and Trixton.
Sarcastic Man, bred and owned by Bob Key, won the Dexter Cup elimination on April 26 at Freehold Raceway. He finished fifth in the final after getting stuck outside for the entire mile from post eight. Ron Pierce will drive for trainer Gail Wrubel. Sarcastic Man is 4-1.
Lukas Hall is owned by New Meadowlands Racing Chairman Jeff Gural and former New York Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet. His second dam is stakes-winner Mars Bar, who is a half-sister to Dan Patch Award winner Pizza Dolce. Trained by Kevin McDermott, he won twice on the New York Sire Stakes circuit last season.
Keystone Wasabi, owned by Peter Gerry's Kitefield Stable, last year won a Landmark Stakes for trainer Janice Connor and won twice on the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes circuit. (HRC)