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Durand taking his Hambo shot with Whiskey Tax

August 04, 2011

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After having two strikes against him heading into this Saturday’s $1.5 million Hambletonian at the Meadowlands, trainer Tom Durand is hoping the tables will turn as he sends out Whiskey Tax in the richest race of the conditioner’s career. Durand, a resident of Puslinch, Ont., has faced a rocky road with the
son of Revenue S-Bourbon Belle, but the veteran conditioner is confident his charge will produce a stronger effort on August 6.
"I do think we will be much better this week for a couple of reasons,” Durand said. “First of all, my horses didn’t race for 28 days and that was only because I had to scratch him the week before [the elimination] because of the heat wave. I didn’t get a prep race into him, so in that regard, he should be better."
Whiskey Tax also faced some misfortune in his elimination when he was tracking Big Rigs at the top of the stretch until the horse made a nasty break in front of him, which Whiskey Tax barely avoided.
“We were just able to get around him,” Durand said. “But, by that time, it was too late to amount to anything. Yannick (Driver Yannick Gingras) said he just let him coast to the wire because he knew we’d get fifth and couldn’t catch anyone.”

Durand did receive some racing luck when the draw took place this morning at The Meadowlands as he received post six. “Considering post one and two were taken [by the elimination winners], I thought it was a pretty good draw for us. It could have certainly been a lot worse,” he said.
Durand has had success in the past in big-money races as he conditioned Casual Breeze to multiple stakes victories and over $1.3 million in earnings.
Whiskey Tax, who has $148,578 banked lifetime, was an $18,000 yearling purchase, but it was Durand’s wife, June who eyed the horse at the Harrisburg yearling sale in 2009. "I have to credit my wife, because she fell in love with him the most,” Durand admitted. “The reason why I looked at a Revenue S to begin with is because of our success with Tall Cotton ($162,190). We went to the yearling sales specifically looking at the Revenue S. This horse is out of a productive maternal line, so we were happy to buy him.”
With just two victories in 16 career starts, most trainers would consider that statistic unappealing, but Durand admires his gelding’s consistency. “He’s kind of surprised us all along, because whoever you race him
against, he’s able to go with them," said Durand.
Driver Yannick Gingras steered the bay in his elimination, but Randy Waples will handle the lines in the rich final. “Randy is such a patient stakes driver,” said Durand. “He seems to have this gift of putting horses in the right spot and knowing where to be.”
Whiskey Tax will not be the post time favorite come Saturday afternoon in East Rutherford, New Jersey, but Durand is hoping his Hambo hopeful can once again live up to his reputation.
“My horse came out of the elimination without really being used and I’m hoping that translates into a really good race on Saturday. If most people don’t watch the replay, he will likely go off at very high odds, but he’s probably worth less than that.” (WEG)

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