Courtly Choice to supplement to Cane Pace
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Trainer Blake MacIntosh has confirmed to Standardbred Canada that the 2018 Meadowlands Pace champ Courtly Choice will be supplemented to the upcoming Cane Pace at the Meadowlands. The first leg of pacing's Triple Crown, the Cane takes place as part of the Hambletonian Day card of harness racing on Saturday, Aug. 4.
Courtly Choice has won six of eight starts as a sophomore, including his two most recent outings in the elim and final of the Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace—a race his connections anted up $61,690 to participate in. He won the final in a time of 1:47.1, just two-fifths off the stakes and world record for a 3-year-old pacing colt.
MacIntosh trains Courtly Choice for owners Hutt Racing Stable, Mac & Heim Stables (MacIntosh and Steve Heimbecker), Daniel Plouffe and Touch Stone Farms (Barb & Joe Intine). The trainer said the decision to pay the $35,000 supplement was made last week.
"Late last week I talked to everybody and they were in agreement to go there instead of going to Yonkers," said MacIntosh. "We're committed now that Yonkers has drawn...we'll take our shot and see what happens."
MacIntosh noted that a stakes schedule for Courtly Choice remains undetermined. The win in the Meadowlands Pace gives the connections the option to supplement to the 2018 Little Brown Jug should they chose, with the New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) circuit still an option as well.
"There are two races left in the NYSS if we want to go that route. We're considering the Jug, we'll see how we do in the Cane," said MacIntosh. "We have the Empire Breeders after this week...from there we have a NYSS race at Yonkers, I believe, and then we'll decide from that race on what we do.
"They're animals, you have to play it ear and make sure they're healthy. We'll do what's best for the horse."
MacIntosh noted that he'll have Courtly Choice out for a training mile at the Meadowlands this Saturday to ensure his prized pupil is all systems go before dropping him in the box on Tuesday, July 31. All entries for the Cane are due that day, with the number of entries dictating the distance of the race. If the race receives 10 or fewer entries, the distance is one mile. The distance extends to 1 1/8 miles should the race receive 11 or 12 entries. (with files from SC)