Schnittker hopes best to come for Wild Bill
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"He hadn't been racing that well," Schnittker said. "We scoped him and he was bleeding pretty badly so we put him on Lasix. I think it's going to make a big difference. He trained very well on it and I think it'll be a factor. It seems like it really made a difference, but we're going to find out quickly on Saturday."
The Messenger Stakes is the second jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. Stay Hungry won the first jewel, the Cane Pace, on Aug. 4 at The Meadowlands. The final jewel, the Little Brown Jug, is Sept. 20.
Stay Hungry and Wild Bill were among 11 horses entered in the Messenger. The top-four finishers from each of Saturday's two $40,000 eliminations advance to the $500,000 final on Sept. 1 at Yonkers. Racing begins at 6:50 p.m. (EDT), with the Messenger eliminations as races five and six.
Wild Bill won the first two races of his career -- including a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes division that included future open-stakes-winners Nutcracker Sweet, Hayden Hanover, and Dorsoduro Hanover -- before consecutive fifth-place finishes that proved to be his final starts of the season.
"He got a leg injury so we had to quit with him," Schnittker said. "He came back a hundred percent on that."
Wild Bill is a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of Schnittker's mare Wild West Show, who has produced stakes-winners Stevensville, Cowboy Terrier, Beachesofcheyenne, and Huntsville. In 2016, Huntsville paced a world-record-equaling 1:49 mile and was named best 2-year-old male pacer. In 2017, he won the Meadowlands Pace and Cane Pace before retiring in October because of injury. His best win time of the season, 1:47.4, led all 3-year-old pacers.
"He's definitely not Huntsville, but he's a pretty nice colt," Schnittker said about Wild Bill. "He's a lot smaller horse, but he's the same type of horse -- he wants to go. He's just nice to drive, two fingers and does everything right. He's a little smarter horse probably than Huntsville. I don't know if he's as fast. I think I'd rather have fast than smart."
Wild Bill has a full stakes schedule ahead of him and Schnittker hopes the issues that have hampered the colt are things of the past.
"If he can put it together here a little bit, I'd be tickled to death if he could hit the board in the final, we'll see what happens," said Schnittker, who will drive Wild Bill on Saturday. "I'd be surprised if he's not kind of right there. I'm looking for a strong second half of the year."
Following are the fields for the eliminations of the Messenger. Jimmy Freight was supplemented for $30,000.
First elimination: 1. Babes Dig Me, George Brennan, Tony Alagna, 3-1; 2. Wild Bill, Ray Schnittker, Ray Schnittker, 12-1; 3. JK Wildfire, Jason Bartlett, Brett Pelling, 7-2; 4. Topville Olympian, Brian Sears, Chris Oakes, 3-1; 5. Nutcracker Sweet, Jordan Stratton, Jimmy Takter, 3-2.