Dunn reunited with Christen Me after Yonkers claim

Gordon Waterstone

Lexington, KY —¬†Prior to arriving in the United States in late summer 2018 and taking the North American harness racing world by storm with back-to-back Driver of the Year titles from the U.S. Harness Writers Association in 2019-20, Dexter Dunn was a 10-time Driver of the Year in his native New Zealand. One of the stars that propelled Dunn to quick success Down Under at an early age — he is still just 32 —¬† was Christen Me N, who was named New Zealand’s 2015 Horse of the Year.

And now Dunn owns Christen Me, claiming the now 13-year-old pacer for $30,000 on Sept. 15 at Yonkers Raceway. And while it’s likely Christen Me — who has earnings of $2,396,484 racing on two continents — will now be retired by Dunn, he has left open the possibility of continuing to race the pacer.

Christen Me N has won 17 times since his arrival in the USA, with earnings of $408,870. Fotowon photo.

“I’ve been thinking about (claiming him) for a while now, and I thought the time was right,” explained Dunn, who has won nearly 1,300 races and $33 million in purses since he came on the scene in August 2018. “I feel like I’m his family. He’s from back home and I’m from back there. He was Horse of the Year one year and to say that I own him now, that’s pretty cool.

“The horse means a lot to me as he won every major race in Australasia for me. When he was four and five he was unbelievable. His speed was phenomenal.”

Christen Me was an 11-time Group One winner in New Zealand and Australia, with his 32 wins in 58 starts including the Miracle Mile, Auckland Cup, Victoria Cup, Hunter Cup and Easter Cup helping bring his Down Under earnings to $1,987,614. The son of Christian Cullen was purchased at the age of nine in early 2017 by Richard Poillucci and sent to trainers Jim King Jr. and Jo Ann Looney-King, the connections of another Down Under import, the 2019 Horse of the Year Shartin N.

Christen Me won his first-ever start in the U.S. on May 14, 2017, where he captured a Harrah’s Philadelphia overnight in 1:51. Overall, Christen Me has won 17 times since his arrival, with earnings of $408,870. His lifetime best of 1:49.2 came in a Preferred Pace on Dec. 7, 2017 at Dover Downs.

Ironically, Dunn claimed Christen Me after his 100th career start in the U.S. Interestingly, Dunn only drove Christen Me once in those 100 starts, that being an off-the-board finish on June 1, 2019, at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

Christen Me has been racing primarily at Yonkers Raceway this year, where he had been claimed three times — twice for $25,000 and once for $30,000 — in his last six starts before Dunn made it a fourth time. Prior to the claiming binge that began on July 5, Christen Me had been in the barn of trainer Scott DiDomenico since the start of the year, and Dunn said that is where the pacer currently is before he sends the horse to the farm of Michelle and Al Crawford in Lexington, Ky.

“I talked to Scotty D when he had him, and he said he’d look after him,” said Dunn. “Scotty helped me out and took him back to his place. I think he is going to come down (to Kentucky) and do some riding trails, with Michelle Crawford looking after him for me.”

Dunn added that while Christen Me is likely to be retired, he hasn’t totally ruled out continuing to race the horse. He said one option is to send Christen Me to Ohio to trainer Stacey Van Huizen-Miller and her husband, driver Brett Miller.

“We also have the option to race him in Ohio a little bit on his way out,” said Dunn. “They have conditions for him. He’s looking great and he’s looking healthy so he may race out there.”

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