NZ HOY Christen Me wins US debut in 1:51
May 15, 2017
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The wait was finally over. The long-awaited debut of The Wonder from Down Under happened Sunday, in front of a sizable and vocal crowd at Harrah's Philadelphia.
Christen Me N, the 11-time Group One winner, and New Zealand's 2015 harness horse of the year, qualified impressively two weeks ago over the Philly oval. He did so in a 1:53.4 clocking, under minimal urging. Sunday's test was a non-winners of $21,100 in their last 5 starts, going for a purse of $17,500.
His debut wasn't without drama however, as the 9-year-old gelded son of Christian Cullen-Splendid Dreams interfered with Scott Rocks before the start, causing a recall. Trainer Jo Ann Looney-King took little time to ponder an equipment change for his next start.
"We probably wont be putting anymore murphy blinds on him for starters," Looney-King said after the race.
As the wings folded, Christen Me N (Tim Tetrick) settled into an early fifth, as Always At My Place (Joe Bongiorno) was sent hard to the lead. As they approached three-eighths, the 32-time winner edged to the outside, where he traveled uncovered to the five-eighths marker. The Josh Green trainee Poisonous (Brett Miller) angled off the cones from the 3 hole, towing Christian Me N into striking range. Tetrick bailed on cover at the eighth pole, sweeping past for the victory under minimal urging in a time of 1:51 flat. The official margin of victory was a head. Poisonous fought gamely for place, while Scott Rocks (George Napolitano Jr.) was third. He paid $6.20 to win.
"Tim (Tetrick) loves him at this point, and we are pleased," Looney-King continued. "When you get a horse from the other side of the world, there is a certain amount of uncertainty, so now we can continue on." As far as the future is concerned, the husband/wife team are excited. "We are looking forward to having a lot of fun with him and butting heads with the big boys in the future."
The future may arrive in two weeks time, as Christian Me N has been invited to the Ben Stafford Jr. Memorial for aged pacers, which will take place on Sunday, May 28, at Harrah's Philadelphia. The purse for that event is $150,000. (Harrah's Philadelphia)