Battle lines have been drawn

Battle lines have been drawn

June 9, 2022

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A pair of Canadian based pacers look to take the $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie.

by Jay Wolf

The Battle of Lake Erie was one of the biggest naval battles and U.S. victories during the War of 1812, which pitted the US against the British and their then colony, Canada.

Some 210 years later, a pair of Canadians – Jimmy Freight and Tattoo Artist – will be invading MGM Northfield Park Saturday night (June 11) looking to capture the 36th edition of the equine battle.

Owned by Adriano Sorella, Jimmy Freight comes into the Battle as the top-ranked horse in the first Hambletonian/Breeders Crown poll of 2022 and is currently on a six-race win streak.

The 7-year-old is fresh off a first over victory in the $117,000 Camluck Classic at The Raceway at Western Fair District, defeating the pacesetting Tattoo Artist by two lengths in 1:50.2.

“The one thing about him since his comeback is that he’s able to race from off the pace, or on the front. He’s become very versatile and that kind of helps,” said Sorella. “There was speed on the inside, so we figured there was no way we were going to leave and get to the front.”

“(Driver) Louis (Roy) made the move nice and early and knew he had a good horse. Louis told me that he knew he had it won at the three-quarter pole. He knew what type of horse he was sitting on.”

Sorella has tapped fellow Canadian, Billy Davis, Jr. to drive his colt and Northfield Park’s leading conditioner Cory Kreiser to train.

“We knew going into this race that we would have (competition) with the eliminations for the NA Cup, the Fan Hanover and Roses Are Red, so we knew that even though we wanted Louis (Roy), we knew we had some competition from those elimination races,” said Sorella.

The Sportswriter stallion is currently pulling double duty — racing and breeding. He retired from racing after his 2019 season but was brought back to the track in 2021, winning 10 of his 18 starts since the comeback.

Jimmy Freight has been acclimated to his new surroundings, arriving at the Kreiser barn well in advance of the event.

“Jimmy is not a very good shipper anymore. Ever since he went to stud duty, he becomes rambunctious when he goes to ship very far. He thinks he’s going to the stud barn and gets worked up,” said Sorella.

Jimmy Freight is quite familiar with the Northfield Park oval. He was second in the 2019 Battle of Lake Erie and the 2018 Carl Milstein Memorial.

“He’s always done well on a half-mile track. As I said, he can race on the lead or off the pace now. He does it his way now. He’s a pretty handy horse.”

Jimmy will have to be handy on Saturday. When the post positions were drawn for the invitational on Tuesday, Jimmy Freight found himself with the outside, post #8.

“When the posts came out, I starting getting messages saying he could overcome (the poor post). I know those people were just trying to cheer me up,” said Sorella, laughing. “We got post 8. It is what it is. It’s post 8. People are expecting a lot of speed on the front end. I don’t see it that way.

“It seems like any time we draw into a final on a small track, it is not the best conditions. In the (2018) Messenger, he set the track record at Yonkers in the elimination and drew the 8 hole in the final and just gets beat by a head to Stay Hungry.

“Can he overcome the eight (hole)? I don’t know, there are some good horses in there. We are not going down there to score around that racetrack.”

Tattoo Artist, a Dr. Ian Moore trainee, is coming off a gate-to-wire victory in the $46,800 free-for-all pace at Woodbine Mohawk Park on June 4 in 1:48.3.

The 5-year-old stallion by He’s Watching and Stylish Artist is owned by the Let It Ride Stables Inc, Frank J. Cannon and Diamond Creek Racing and will leave from post 6.

Tattoo Artist has won 23 of 57 lifetime starts and more than $1.145 million. He has been on the board in nine of his 10 2022 starts.

Mark MacDonald will pick up the driving assignment from his brother, James, who will be staying in Ontario for the Woodbine Mohawk Park card.

“Tattoo is just a super little horse who gives his all every time he sees a starting gate,” said Moore. “I think the Northfield track should suit him very nicely and we are looking forward to racing there in the Battle.”

Northfield’s director of racing operations, Dave Bianconi has put together another deep Battle field, The field of nine includes Ocean Rock (the 2021 Breeders Crown Aged Pace champion), Nicholas Beach (the fastest performer in 2022), Funatthebeach N (the richest pacer this season), Leonidas A (the second richest horse in 2022), Catch The Fire (another double duty performer), This Is The Plan (winner of $2.6 million in career earnings) and Sectionline Bigry (10 wins in 17 seasonal starts).

The Battle undercard will include the second leg of the $110,000 (div) Ohio Sires Stakes for three-year-old male pacers and the inaugural $35,000 MGM Buckeye Distaff, an invitational for veteran Ohio-sired pacing mares.

Eleven 3-year-old colt entries caused a split in the OhSS. The second division is headlined by the 2021 Breeders Crown runner-up, Gulf Shores (Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.), Sling Shock (Dan Noble) and Barry’s Berries (Tony Hall), a winner in the first OHSS leg.

The post time for the 15-race card is 6 p.m.


$200,000 Battle of Lake Erie Invitational

PP Horse (Driver/Trainer) ML Odds

1 Sectionline Bigry (Brett Miller/Steve Bauder) 10-1

2 Nicholas Beach (Joe Bongiorno/Jennifer Bongiorno) 7-2

3 Funatthebeach N (Jordan Stratton/Mark Ford) 20-1

4 Ocean Rock (Dan Noble/Christi Noble) 3-1

5 This Is The Plan (Ronnie Wrenn, Jr./Ron Burke) 8-1

6 Tattoo Artist (Mark MacDonald/Dr. Ian Moore) 9-2

7 Leonidas A (Austin Siegelman/Matthew Medeiros) 15-1

8 Jimmy Freight (Billy Davis, Jr./Cory Kreiser) 4-1

9 Catch The Fire (Trevor Smith/Todd Luther) 6-1

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