Hightstown, NJ — New Zealand-bred trotter Speeding Spur arrived in trainer Linda Toscano’s barn this summer and quickly made a favorable impression. He hopes to leave a winning one, as well.
Speeding Spur, who was last season’s Trotter of the Year in New Zealand, has raced twice in the U.S. and trotted 1:51.1 both times. The 8-year-old stallion was fourth behind Manchego, Marion Marauder, and Lindy The Great in his debut and this past weekend finished sixth in the Vincennes on Hambletonian Day at The Meadowlands.
On Sunday (Aug. 11), Speeding Spur competes in the $148,000 Crawford Farms Open Trot at Tioga Downs, where he is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line. Vincennes winner Mission Accepted is the 2-1 favorite.
For his career, Speeding Spur has won 27 of 58 races and hit the board a total of 48 times on his way to $1.09 million in New Zealand dollars ($804,240 U.S. equivalent). He is owned by Woodlands Stud NZ Inc. and will race in North America the remainder of the season before returning home for stud duty.
Speeding Spur, a son of Pegasus Spur out of the Chiola Hanover mare Della’s Speed, is eligible to a number of stakes, including the Maple Leaf, Caesars Trotting Classic, Dayton Derby, and Allerage.
“He’s a classy old horse,” Toscano said. “It’s not easy to make a million dollars in New Zealand and he was able to do that. You can’t ask for a nicer horse to be around. He’s a beautiful horse, a handsome horse. He’s a lovely horse to be around, you can tell he was cared for very well, like the champion he was down there.
“They would like to stand him at stud because he’s had such a nice career over there, but without North American credentials it’s difficult because we ship semen over there. They wanted to send him over and see what he could do. He’s eligible to everything from here on in. We’ll see if he can step his game up and compete with them. If we can get him a (win) record and make a little bit of money with him, I know the owners will be real happy.”
Speeding Spur was a nine-time Group 1 winner Down Under. He was trained by John and Josh Dickie, with Josh handling the driving in all but one of his victories. He finished his home career in May with a second-place finish in the Rowe Cup, a race he won in 2018.
Last week in the Vincennes, Speeding Spur and driver Tim Tetrick started from post eight in a 12-horse field and raced on the outside for the majority of the mile. Despite the trip, he was beaten only 3-3/4 lengths and only two horses trotted a faster final quarter-mile.
“He was unlucky last week, just a bad post,” Toscano said. “Four wide, three wide, and four wide around the last turn at The Meadowlands on Hambo Day is not exactly the most advantageous place, but Timmy had no choice. It’s what he had to do.”
This weekend, Speeding Spur will start from post six in a six-horse field with Brian Sears in the sulky. The field also includes Pinkman, Run Director, The Veteran, and Fiftydallarbill.
“His owners are thrilled with what he’s done,” Toscano said. “First and foremost, they want us to take care of the horse. The ultimate goal would be to see if he’s good enough to compete in the International Trot (at Yonkers) at the end of the year.
“I’m really impressed with his demeanor. He’s made it very easy to make the transition (from New Zealand to the U.S). He looks like a million dollars. The people down there absolutely adored him. He’s been a pleasure.”
Sunday’s card at Tioga Downs also includes the $132,000 Joie De Vie Stakes for older female trotters. Atlanta is the 6-5 morning-line favorite, followed by Manchego at 3-1.
Racing begins at 1 p.m. (EDT) and the Crawford Farms Open Trot and Joie De Vie are races eight and nine, respectively. For complete entries, click here.