Met's Hall, Prospect Hill delight Miller
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"He's been a pleasant surprise," Miller said. "He always had talent and ability, but would kind of lose focus and act like a typical juvenile out there on the track. He's got a refined body and nice gait, but he wasn't always thinking about trotting; he was all boy out there. But he's blossomed into a nice horse and done well."
Met's Hall, owned by Stroy Inc. and Andy Miller Stable, came into 2018 with high expectations after winning five of 11 races last year and finishing second in the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male trotters, but was plagued by soundness issues. Miller consulted with numerous veterinarians and revamped the colt's training program to get him back on track.
"I'm very fortunate," Miller said. "I had three or four of the top vets in the country give me guidance. Andy and I kept talking about his training regimen. We put him in the (swimming) pool and changed up how we do things with a trotter. We had to try other things and it seemed to work."
Met's Hall, with Andy Miller in the sulky, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in Saturday's Simcoe Stakes, which is the final prep for the Canadian Trotting Classic (eliminations Sept. 8; final Sept. 15). The 11-horse field also includes You Know You Do (7-2), Lawmaker (9-2) and Alarm Detector (5-1). The race is part of a Woodbine Mohawk Park card that includes the Canadian Pacing Derby and Maple Leaf Trot.
For his career, Met's Hall has won seven of 17 races and earned $723,908. The son of Cantab Hall-Met's Inn finished second to Atlanta in the Hambletonian before winning in a career-best 1:52 in the Zweig, where he led gate-to-wire and fought off a challenge from Six Pack before holding off Manchego by a nose.
"We really targeted the Hambletonian with him," Miller said. "To get second, we were very pleased. And to race in the Zweig and hold off Six Pack and Manchego that last quarter, I was really proud of him. I don't think he prefers to race on the front, but he can. I think he's more of a grinder. But it's however the race unfolds."
Prospect Hill, a son of Muscle Hill-Louise Kemp, was purchased for $130,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by Stroy Inc. He finished third to Peter Haughton Memorial winner Don't Let'em in his debut, but has since won five in a row -- a division of the Pennsylvania All-Stars followed by four divisions of the sire stakes. His most recent victory was by a neck, but the rest were by at least one length.
"He leaves the gate so effortlessly," Miller said. "Andy said he's really comfortable on the front. I'm just happy he doesn't seem to have to exert a lot so far to race at this level.
"And when a horse has come at him, he's responded well. Twice he's done that. I'm glad that he's game and gutsy. Instead of throwing in the towel, he wanted to put his head back in front and win. You like to think you teach them that, but I think it's all on their own. They have to want it and he wants it." (Ken Weingartner/USTA)