Trainer Marcus Melander admitted he was a bit nervous before the start of the $400,000 William Wellwood Memorial on Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park. As it turned out, he didn’t need to be. In the seconds leading up to Canada’s richest race for 2-year-old trotters, Melander, who conditions top flight trotter Green Manalishi S, admitted he was battling butterflies before the field of 10 got underway. A three length triumph, timed in a career best 1:53.4, changed that trepidation to pure elation.
"He was very good tonight as well," said Melander, of the horse that took one of two Wellwood eliminations last Saturday. "I’m very happy to win this race. I was a little nervous before the race, actually. I’m not normally like that. After that race last week, he was really impressive. I was just very happy that we could show them that he’s as good as he was last week."
Sent off as the 3-5 mutuel favorite, Green Manalishi S, with Tim Tetrick in the sulky, got away third as Swandre The Giant and Yannick Gingras powered to the front as the trotters made their way into the first turn. After a quarter-mile in a tepid :28.2, Tetrick made the decision to go for the front after Union Forces, a 33-1 upset winner in the other Wellwood elimination, broke stride.
With a confident Tetrick at the controls, Green Manalishi, who reached the half in :57.1, began to dash away from Swandre The Giant, who broke stride as the field turned for home. Easily keeping his rivals at bay, the son of Muscle Hill, who won his Wellwood elim seven days ago, flexed his muscles down the lane, crossing the wire the easiest of winners.
"That was really fun," said Tetrick. "First off, I just want to say it’s a great honor to win the Wellwood race. A great family and proud to get to win this race.
"I was going to go ahead and go," continued the veteran reinsman of his decision to push for the lead prior to the mid-way point. "I wanted to get through the first turn clear and safe. Down the backside, I let him trot. We got a good half and from there it was his race to win or lose."
The longshot parade for second, third and fourth spots went to Smart As Hill (27-1), Okeanos (50-1) and Kings County (27-1), respectively.
Green Manalishi S paid $3.30 for the win, combining with Smart As Hill for a $45.40 exactor. Okenaos capped a $378.80 triactor, while a $1 superfecta (Kings County) returned $2,876.45.
Members of the Wellwood family were on hand to make the trophy presentation.
It was the fourth win from six starts for the bay colt that had a runner-up finish in the $422,350 Peter Haughton Memorial on Aug. 4 at the Meadowlands.
"He’s special," praised Tetrick. "He trots beautiful and he acts like an 8-year-old out there. He loves his work. Marcus and the crew have done a great job with him. He makes me look really good out there."
Owned by Courant Inc. and bred Ab Svensk Reklamfinans of Solne, Sweden, Green Manalishi S will now set his sights south of the border.
"We’ll ship him down to Lexington next week and he’s going to race there one or two times," noted Melander. "We’ve got the Breeders Crown left and I think we have the Valedictory as well. But we’ll take one race at a time. He’s a very nice horse." (WEG)