Can Guardian Angel As go back to back in Maple Leaf Trot?
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Guardian Angel AS will attempt to become only the third horse in three decades to win the Maple Leaf Trot in consecutive years when he faces nine foes in Saturday’s $560,000 event for older trotters at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
A 6-year-old stallion, Guardian Angel AS heads to the Maple Leaf off a track-record 1:50.4 victory in the Crawford Farms Open Trot on Aug. 16 at Tioga Downs. For his career, he has won 25 of 61 races and $1.43 million for trainer Anette Lorentzon and owners ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johansson.
In the Crawford, Guardian Angel AS handed the sport’s then No. 1-ranked horse, Gimpanzee, his first loss of the season. A week earlier, Guardian Angel AS was in contention for the lead in the John Cashman Memorial at The Meadowlands but went off stride in the stretch and finished eighth.
“I honestly said (the Crawford) was our race to lose when I saw the draw,” Lorentzon said. “He raced really good at The Meadowlands and I thought he would have won or at worst been second when he made the break. He wanted to go a little bit too much, I believe, so when he got in the open in the stretch that’s why he made a break.
“I don’t want to say too much because then he might do it again, but he usually never makes breaks. It was unlucky that he did it there. That stinks, but he raced really good at Tioga. He came out of that race really good and he feels really good.”
Guardian Angel AS, a son of Archangel-Provide AS bred by ACL Stuteri AB, has won two of five starts this year including the June 20 preferred at The Meadowlands in a career-best 1:50.1. He got sick in July and spent a little more than a month away from the races prior to the Cashman.
“We wanted to give him some time and it looks like it’s paid off so far,” Lorentzon said.
Last year, Guardian Angel AS won the Maple Leaf with a Canadian-record-equaling 1:50.4 mile. His rivals this year include five horses from that race: runner-up Atlanta, third-place Marion Marauder, fourth-place Crystal Fashion, sixth-place Run Director, and seventh-place Manchego. Atlanta and Manchego both are 5-year-old mares.
Four-year-old Gimpanzee, who has won five of six races this season, also is among this year’s field, starting from post nine, which is the outermost spot on the gate. Completing the lineup are Soul Strong, Lindy The Great, and Marseille.
“It’s a very tough race,” Lorentzon said. “It’s all top horses and you can’t count anyone out. It’s all how the horses are that day, the trips; there’s a lot that plays into it. I’m just hoping for a lot of racing luck and that he is in good form. That’s all you can hope for.”
Jody Jamieson will drive Guardian Angel AS, subbing for regular pilot Tim Tetrick because of pandemic-related international travel restrictions. Guardian Angel AS will leave from post three.
“I’m very happy with the draw,” said Lorentzon, who also will remain in the U.S. for the race. “I wish we could go up there with him ourselves, but it is what it is. At least we are racing. Jody knows how to drive horses, so I’m not worried about that. I’m sure he’s going to do a great job.”
The last horse to win the Maple Leaf in consecutive years was San Pail, who won three in a row from 2009 through 2011. The only other horse to accomplish the feat since 1990 was Mr Muscleman in 2004 and 2005.
“Winning last year meant a lot,” said the 37-year-old Lorentzon, who set career highs with 160 victories and $2.98 million in purses in 2019. “It’s the biggest race that we’ve won. I spent a lot of time in Canada before and during the summertime and it’s a huge race. I was super excited.” (Ken Weingartner/USTA)