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A "hopskipanajump" into winner's circle?

March 28, 2013
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Given the choice between restaurant management and stable management, Lisa Zabielski prefers the latter.
 
"I like being in the barn, it's easier,” Zabielski said, laughing. "The horses don't talk back or complain. And it's definitely more fun, especially in the summer. You're not stuck inside.”
 
The 25-year-old Zabielski, from Greenfield, N.Y., hopes her outdoor fun continues Saturday night when she sends Hopskipanajump into the $60,850 Rags To Riches Series final at Meadowlands Racetrack. A 5-year-old pacer, Hopskipanajump won his division in the first two legs of the series and was second to favorite Cambassador in last week's third round.
 
Hopskipanajump, driven by David Miller, starts Saturday's final from post three. Cambassador, from the stable of trainer Mark Silva, has a win and two second-place finishes in the series and will start from post 10. Cane Ridge, who has two victories and a second-place effort in the series for trainer Doug Dilloian Jr., begins from post four.
 
"I'm really confident he should be right in there,” Zabielski said about Hopskipanajump's chances. "I think he can compete with all of them and he feels really good right now.”
 
The Rags To Riches series is restricted to horses that started for a claiming price of $10,000 or less at least once in their four starts prior to Feb. 16. Zabielski claimed Hopskipanajump from trainer Rene Allard for a $12,000 price tag on Feb. 26 at Kawartha Downs. The horse, now owned by Michael Calimeri, had been in for a $10,000 tag three starts prior to the cutoff date for the Rags to Riches.
 
"My owner had his eye on him, definitely for this series,” Zabielski said. "Looking at his (past performance) lines, we thought he had a good chance to get checks. Then after the first time he raced, I thought we really claimed a monster.”
 
Hopskipanajump won his Rags to Riches opener by a length over Cane Ridge in 1:52.4 over a sloppy track. He won in the second round by three-quarters of a length over Laguna Beach in 1:53.3.
 
For his career, Hopskipanajump has won 16 of 84 starts and earned $101,484. He got his start in Indiana, racing for Don Eash, and was second in the Indiana-sired Fair Circuit championship for 2-year-old male pacers in 2010.
 
"He's really a well-mannered horse,” Zabielski said. "I think he has a lot of potential. He's shown me so much, even if his lines previously don't look impressive. It seems like he's just coming around. I made a few changes to his equipment, but I think he just likes the extra attention he's getting.
 
"I have only 10 horses and sometimes that makes the difference. He's an upbeat horse. He's happy every day.”
 
Zabielski, who followed her father Paul into harness racing, would like to have more horses, but not a large stable. She got a business management degree from Schenectady Community College and worked in restaurant management before beginning to train horses in 2011. She has 92 starts under her belt.
 
"This is what I've wanted to do my whole life,” Zabielski said. "I'm getting my hands in it, little by little. I'm trying not to take on too many horses at once until I get my feet wet and know what I'm doing.”
 
Following is the field for the Rags to Riches final: P J Lucky, Laguna Beach, Hopskipanajump, Cane Ridge, Blade Runner, Tamayo, The Encounter, Bristle Ridge Bob, In Kenny's Honor and Cambassador. (HRC)
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