Cecere looks for big year with "Team Lindy"
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The Antonacci family, which owns Lindy Farms and competes under a variety of stable names, enjoyed a strong 2017 thanks to trotters such as International Moni, Lindy The Great, Mambo Lindy, Shake It Off Lindy, and Night Rhythm. And Cecere hopes more good times are on the horizon.
"I'm very happy where we are," said Cecere, who guided seven horses through qualifiers Saturday at the Meadowlands Racetrack. "I feel good. I think we have a nice group of horses. We are very excited, me and Frank and all the team. We need to keep doing a good job, hard work, and we will get results.
"I don't feel more pressure," Cecere said about his new role. "We have always been close, me and Frank. It's exciting to see your name on the program; it's nice. But we've been working together for 10 years; I don't see much different. He trusts me, I trust him; whatever we do will be together. That is great. That is a team. It makes you strong."
Mambo Lindy, a late-blooming 7-year-old trotter, is expected to make his 2018 debut this week as he prepares for a possible trip to the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial on May 5 at the Meadowlands.
Stakes winners International Moni, Lindy The Great, and Night Rhythm were among Cecere's seven horses that qualified Saturday. International Moni and Lindy The Great, both 4-year-old stallions, are preparing for next month's start of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old trotters.
"They will stay with the 4 year olds to start the year," Cecere said. "There are nice aged horses out there and we don't want to push these nice 4 year olds that we have. When we see that we can compete, then we will go. I'm not saying we'll not, but not right now. The year is long."
International Moni qualified in 1:56.1 with a final quarter-mile in :28.1 as he faced a group that included defending Horse of the Year Hannelore Hanover, who won in 1:53.2. Lindy The Great also faced a seasoned group, including Crazy Wow and Caprice Hill, as he trotted in 1:55 with a final quarter of :28.4.
Both horses were qualifying for the first time this year.
"I'm in no rush," Cecere said. "Just do your mile. Let (others) go fast. We don't need to go fast right now. We will start to build on the qualifiers. When it is time for the money, we'll be there."
Night Rhythm, a 3-year-old trotting colt, is among a group of Cecere trainees eligible to this year's Hambletonian Stakes, the sport's top prize for 3-year-old trotters. Others include American Moni -- the final foal from the great mare Moni Maker and a half-brother to International Moni -- as well as Eurobond, Kinda Lucky Lindy, and Hat Trick Habit, a Kentucky Sire Stakes champion owned by Fred Monteleone Stable.
Eurobond, who finished second in 1:57.3 in his qualifier Saturday with Cecere at the lines, was winless in six races last year but is an unheralded colt to keep an eye on.
"He was green and made breaks last year; this year he is better," Cecere said. "He will learn. He has a lot of talent." (Ken Weingartner/USTA)