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The story behind Pilgrims Chuckie

July 01, 2010

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Divisional champion Lucky Chucky will make his 3-year-old debut Friday night for trainer Chuck Sylvester in the $80,900 Dickerson Cup at Meadowlands Racetrack. But another colt will also represent Sylvester in the Meadowlands’ featured event: Pilgrims Chuckie. Sylvester co-owns the Hambletonian hopeful trotter trained by his friend, Scott Andrews.
“I train at the South Florida Training Center, and then ship them up to Magical Acres in Chesterfield, NJ [where Sylvester is stabled],” Andrews explained. “I’ve known Chuck Sylvester for about five or six years. When I first came up to the farm I was in his barn for a couple of years, we just struck up a friendship, and he’s a partner on this colt.”
Pilgrims Chuckie (sold as Man Of Wealth) was one of two colts Andrews selected out of the 2008 Standardbred Horse Sale in Harrisburg, PA. Ed Andrews, his father; Rod Andrews, his uncle; and their partner, Chuck Sylvester, paid $27,000 for the son of Broadway Hall-Woman Of Means. Co-owner John Licausi, who races as the Pinstripe Stable, purchased a 25 percent share of the colt last August. The other colt the Andrews family purchased that day was Pilgrims Taj (sold as Taj Mahal). They sold the eventual Breeders Crown champion prior to his career debut.
“Originally, my father and uncle had a stable name of Pilgrim Farms, and they’ve named all of their horses using Pilgrim,” he said. “So, the horses that could go behind the gate for the Hambletonian are Pilgrims Chuckie, Pilgrim’s Taj and Lucky Chucky. I like the sound of that. That means we’ll be in the dance.”
Pilgrims Chuckie hit the board in five of nine starts as a freshman toward earnings of $32,036.
“As a 2-year-old, Pilgrims Chuckie was just an immature colt,” Andrews said. “We were banking on him being a nice 3-year-old, and here we are. He made a few breaks early on, but that was just inexperience. In his third qualifier, he won and came home in :27.4, and we thought he was going to be a real nice colt. But when he qualified for the Valley Victory [finished second in his elimination at Harrah’s Chester], we figured he was something special.
“After the Valley Victory [final, in which he finished seventh] I wanted to shut him down,” Andrews continued, “but I took him to Lexington and then turned him out. He was just a big, growthy colt, and he’s finally grown into himself. He trained down super all winter long. In fact, I raced him with trotting hopples last year, and took them off. He’s just matured into a classy individual who handles himself very well.”
Pilgrims Chuckie broke stride in his first start this season, a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes division at The Meadows on May 18. He has been first or second in every start since then, including a 1:53 world record June 14 at Pocono Downs’ five-eighths track.
“Going into the turn, Mike Lachance thought another driver’s helmet hit him in the nose,” Andrews said of the colt’s sophomore debut.
“Going into his world record performance of 1:53 at Pocono, I thought he trained really well,” he added. “I figured he was going to race well that night, but I didn’t think he was going to go that fast. He did it pretty handily and we were quite pleased. His last start [June 26 at The Meadows] was a good effort. Cassis was following us the whole mile and just got us at the end. When our colt heard him coming, he dug back in.
“I haven’t had to tinker with his equipment, and he’s pretty set with the way we have him rigged right now,” he continued. “You can race him any way you want. Mike said he’s real comfortable doing anything you want with him. Handicappers might be a bit concerned he’s got six seconds, but he’s a colt just coming into himself. His last four starts have been 1:53.4, 1:54.2, 1:53 and 1:54. That’s pretty big.”
Pilgrims Chuckie will start from post seven with Mike Lachance at the lines in the Dickerson Cup, which is carded as the second race Friday night. Along with Lucky Chucky and Coco Lindy, he is part of a three-horse entry rated at 2-1 on the morning line. Holiday Road, the Peter Haughton champion, will also make his 3-year-old debut in that race.
“Those sires stakes races have been preps, but they ended up being hard races,” Andrews said. “Hopefully, he’s good enough to try the next level. We’ll found out how he measures up. He has to show us. I can’t compare him to classy colts like Lucky Chucky and Holiday Road. I’m anticipating with the experience edge we have over them this year, we’re at least ready to go a mile with them.”
The ultimate target for Pilgrims Chuckie is the $1.5 million Hambletonian on August 7.
“Our goal all winter long was to get him ready for it,” he said. “If he’s good enough, that’s where we want to go.”
Andrews, who owns a swimming pool construction company in his native Massachusetts, recently ventured into training horses full time.
“My uncle and my dad have always had horses,” the-46-year-old horseman explained. “They had horses with Billy Haughton like Bret’s Star, Bret’s Champ, Keystone Model and Ticket To Ride. I grew up watching them race their horses, and that’s how I got interested and involved. So, I did the horses on the side, and just came into it full time. Starting this year, I had 11 horses, including eight babies.” (Meadowlands)
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