Randy Waples is heading into this weekend's Metro Pace eliminations at Mohawk Racetrack in an enviable position. The 49-year-old reinsman is not just in both eliminations, he is sitting behind Nassagaweya Stakes winners.
Last Saturday night, Waples guided Traceur Hanover and Sports Bettor to victory lane in their respective Nassagaweya splits, setting him up with two contenders for this Saturday's Metro eliminations.
The victory with Traceur Hanover did not come as a surprise to many as the son of Western Ideal-Transference had shown a lot of promise and had won two of his first three starts heading into last Saturday's race.
However, Sports Bettor's maiden-breaking victory in the Nassagaweya came as a surprise to the public, as he was 69-1, and a mild surprise to his driver
"I didn't really know what to expect," said Waples. "I liked him right from the very beginning, but then it seemed like he didn't really seem to get a whole lot better from when he was baby racing."
Sports Bettor is trained by Mark Austin for owner-breeder Frank Gentile and had shown a ton of promise in his two baby races by winning both of them with good final quarter speed.
A son of Sportswriter-Shellys Delight, Sports Bettor finished second in his first three races before finishing a disappointing eighth in the Battle of Waterloo final on Aug. 4.
In his last start before the Nassagaweya at Georgian Downs in an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold leg he finished off the board, but Waples said he was filled with pace.
"At Georgian he got locked in and finished fourth, but he had all kinds of go, so I thought if he got a good trip he could definitely get there."
Sports Bettor got a two-hole trip in the Nassagaweya and was able to nail a tiring Lyons Levi Lewis at the wire for the upset victory in a career best 1:53.2.
Sports Bettor will start from post seven in the first $40,000 elimination Saturday night.
In the second elimination, Waples will sit behind arguably the most consistent 2 year old on the local scene, Traceur Hanover.
Trained by Normand Bardier Jr. for owner Richard Berthiaume, Traceur Hanover has shown high end talent since his first baby race on July 8.
After baby racing twice, Traceur Hanover won his first two starts at Mohawk July 22 and 29.
"He's been great since the time he baby raced," said Waples. "Smart colt, you can do anything you want with him."
After suffering his first defeat, a second-place effort with a :27 last quarter on Aug. 7 at Mohawk, Traceur Hanover turned in another brilliant effort in the Nassagaweya Stakes.
The $100,000 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale purchase got a perfect two-hole trip and grinded by Go Daddy Go in the stretch to win in career-best 1:53.3.
In just four career starts, Traceur Hanover has shown Waples he can be a grinder, but that he does have quick speed.
"He's just a perfect all-around nice horse."
Traceur Hanover's toughest challenge to date will come this Saturday in his elimination for the Metro Pace and Waples believes he will be up to the task.
"He's one of those horses that just does what he has to do, so he's never going to do it flashy or anything like that," said Waples. "He's got a big motor and his desires good, so if he gets the right kind of trip he should be good."
Traceur Hanover will start from post seven in a field of eight for his Metro Pace elimination.
The duo of Sports Bettor and Traceur Hanover offer Waples a great one-two punch to get to the $667,000 final on Saturday, Aug. 30. If Waples' pair can get through this Saturday, he will be set up for a great shot at capturing his first Metro Pace. (WEG)