Indiana’s best takes on Hambletonian champ in Ohio

Chris Beaver trainee Custom Cantab to meet Hambletonian champ Atlanta Monday in $100,000 Miami Valley Distaff

by Jay Wolf

The Hoosier State’s 2018 “Trotter of the Year,” Custom Cantab will be facing the United States Harness Writers Association’s “Trotter of the Year” and last year’s Hambletonian champion, Atlanta, in the $100,000 Miami Valley Distaff on Monday afternoon (May 6).

Custom Cantab is the Indiana-bred daughter of Mr Cantab out of Custom Model. The mare has earned nearly $750,000 lifetime for owners Donald E. Robinson, R B H Ventures and trainer Chris Beaver.

Beaver has a knack for finding auction bargains. He bought Custom Model’s first foal, My Ghost Bi, for $3,000 at the 2011 Lexington Selected Sale and the gelding made $75,852 lifetime. Beaver bought Custom Cantab for $6,000 at the 2016 Hoosier Sale.

As a freshman, Custom Cantab won just twice in her 12 seasonal starts, but thanks to her consistent form and a 2-7-3 record, she earned $214,486.

Veteran reinsman Peter Wrenn has been Custom Cantab’s regular driver and will be the pilot in the Miami Valley Distaff.

“He drove her really well as a 2-year-old. He always gave her good trips. He was able to keep her brave. He didn’t race her on the front very much. He kept her close, kept her covered most of the way,” said Beaver.

As a sophomore, Custom Cantab dominated the Indiana Sires Stake series – winning all five eliminations, three $85,000 finals and the $220,000 Super Final. She finished 2018 with 13 wins in seventeen starts, earning $521,400.

Custom Cantab campaigned solely on the seven-eighths mile oval at Hoosier Park until she made her final 2018 start in the $183,900 Matron Final at Dover Downs.

Sent off at 8-1 by the bettors, Custom Cantab was driven aggressively by David Miller and scored a 1:53 1-5 victory, defeating a field of that included Plunge Blue Chip, Lily Stride and world champion Impinktoo.

The mare started her 4-year-old season with a third-place finish in the $20,000 open trot at Harrah’s Hoosier Park on April 24. The show finish kept her streak of ‘on the board’ results alive at 30 straight races.

“I thought she raced really well,” said Beaver. “We wanted to get her legs under her. We raced her a little conservatively the first time and tried to finish strong and I thought she did.

“I haven’t noticed too much different with her (since last fall). You couldn’t ask for anything better than what she was last year. She was phenomenal.”

The Miami Valley Distaff will be first of many stakes starts for Custom Cantab if she continues to show good form.

“There is an aged Sire Stake in Indiana. After the Matron win, I felt comfortable staking her to a lot of the aged mare races – the Graduate and the (Hambletonian) Maturity,” said Beaver. “She has a very full schedule of stakes races if she turned out to be that good.”

The Beaver Stable has been on fire lately. Friday night at Miami Valley, Beaver trainees dominated the two $50,000 divisions of the Ohio Sire Stakes for sophomore filly trotters, finishing first and second in the first division and sweeping the top three positions in the second.

Miami Valley Raceway’s closing day card also features the $100,000 Sam “Chip” Noble Memorial Pace with the defending champ and millionaire mare, Shartin N. The 14-race program will begin at 2:05 p.m.

The $100,000 Miami Valley Distaff (Race 8)

Approximate Post Time 4:25 p.m. (Eastern)
PP Horse (Driver/Trainer) Morning Line Odds

1. Weslynn Dancer (Matt Kakaley/Richard Banca) 8-1
2. Churita (Trace Tetrick/Matt Rheinheimer) 5-2
3. Custom Cantab (Peter Wrenn/Chris Beaver) 7-2
4. Red Rose Swan (Lewayne Miller/Lewayne Miller) 3-1
5. Atlanta (Yannick Gingras/Ron Burke) 9-5