This year’s deep crop of free for all pacers just added another world champion to its ranks.
Hypnotic Blue Chip has come out of retirement and will make his 2012 debut in Saturday’s tenth race at the Meadowlands Racetrack. The six-year-old son of Art Major, who holds a 1:47.2 world record and earnings of $1,532,752, will start from post five with Hall of Famer Mike Lachance in the sulky.
Owner Francis Azur of Coraopolis, PA, and trainer Kevin McDermott are hoping to turn their disappointment in the stallion’s brief stud career into a fun and lucrative season with their star pacer.
“We originally sent him to Fashion Farms in New Hope, Pennsylvania, and it just didn’t work out,” explained McDermott. “He wasn’t getting a lot of breedings, so we decided [after four months] to put him back in training. I think we only got about four matings with him from Hanover Shoe Farms. It’s just tough right now. So, we brought him back to New Jersey and put him back in training. We bred a couple of our own mares to him, and he picked up another eight mares [at Walnridge Farm in Cream Ridge, NJ].”
Hypnotic Blue Chip carved out a career best season in 2010, winning the U.S. Pacing Championship in a world record of 1:47.2, and equaled the 1:49.4 track record at Northfield Park in the Battle of Lake Erie. He was also second in the William Haughton Memorial, Canadian Pacing Derby and Bettors Delight.
Azur purchased Hypnotic Blue Chip from the 2010 Tattersalls Mixed Sale at the Meadowlands for $325,000, and more than doubled his purchase price during his first season under the training of McDermott.
“His world record in the U.S. Pacing Championship was absolutely the greatest moment of my life,” recalled McDermott. “I love this horse. He’s like a son to me. I don’t know if he’s the best horse I’ve ever had. Yes It’s True [$883,028] was a great mare, and Mac Action [$489,470] has a lot of sentimental value to me. Blueridge Western [$1,538,764] and Noble Falcon[$926,441] are a couple of other good ones we’ve had.”
To tune up for his return to the races, Hypnotic Blue Chip qualified twice, finishing third on May 26 [timed in 1:51.4], and winning on June 1 in 1:53.1 [final quarter in :27], both with Tim Tetrick driving.
“Tim was very happy with him,” said McDermott. “In the first qualifier, we didn’t want to be on the lead, but he just got up in the rigging. In the stretch, Tim was trying to restrain him and look after him. Then, in the second one, we didn’t want the front end no matter what, but the pace so slow and Tim said he was super.
“He’s ready to go and ready to win right away. He’s sounder, he’s bigger, and he’s staked to everything, but we’re going to let him tell us what he is. If things go well we’re going to race him all summer, but I really don’t know what to expect. If he’s not what he was two years ago, then he’ll leave for Australia to stand stud in September. We got a great offer from Yirribee Stud and that’s probably where he’ll end up going.”
In 2011, Hypnotic Blue Chip won the Spring Pacing Championship at Woodbine and recorded three sub-1:50 wins. However, he didn’t perform up to expectations and this is his chance for a measure of redemption.
“The race I’d really like to win this year is the tenth on June 9,” joked McDermott. “Seriously, last year we put too much pressure on him. We thought he was going to be the best open pacer in the world. In his first start, he got knocked down going into the first turn. We rushed him back, and at this time last year he already had 15 starts. This year we’re just going to have fun and take care of him.”
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