Beegle looks to challenge the best with Arctic Warrior

by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

Ken Weingartner

Freehold, NJ — Arctic Warrior will get a chance to take on the best 3-year-old male pacers in North America. Whether he can handle the challenge remains to be seen, but his campaign from a year ago gave trainer/co-owner Sam Beegle every reason to be hopeful.

The homebred gelding won six of 10 races last year and finished no worse than third in any start on his way to $121,888 in purses. He set a track record at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and was among just five 2-year-old male pacers (three of which were from Pennsylvania) to win on a five-eighths-mile track in less than 1:52.

A son of Blissfull Hall, Arctic Warrior could make his 2009 debut later this week at Harrah’s Chester and is being pointed toward the $225,000 Berry’s Creek in early May at the Meadowlands Racetrack. He also is eligible to the North America Cup and Meadowlands Pace, among other stakes.

Arctic Warrior, driven by Tim Curtin, has prepped with two qualifiers at Chester, winning the first and finishing second to Bunkmeister (beaten by a neck) in 1:53.4 on April 10.

“He seems to be doing all right so far,” Beegle said. “We’ll take each step as it comes. There were some nice colts here (in Pennsylvania) last year and I just thought I ought to give him a shot. I put him into whatever I could. Is he good enough? I don’t know. We’ll give him a shot and see what happens.”

Chris Gooden photo

Arctic Warrior won six times as a freshman and banked $121,888.

Last year, Arctic Warrior started his career by finishing third and second in two purse baby races at Chester. He then won six in a row, including his 1:51.4 track-record win in an Arden Downs division at Pocono, before ending the season with two second-place finishes to Panmunjom. Their final encounter came in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final at Chester, in which Panmunjom set a track record with a 1:51.2 victory.

“If he had one fault last year, it’s that he would get up on the muscle from time to time,” Beegle said. “We worked hard this winter. I’ve taught him to sit on the outside and sit in a hole, and do all that kind of stuff. Not that he wouldn’t do all that stuff before, but he is a little bit of a hothead.”

Arctic Warrior’s family is filled with consistent performers. Half-brother Bret’s New Journey has won $151,275 and his mother, Bret’s Grand Finale, had a dozen siblings that combined to win 209 races and $1.1 million. Arctic Warrior’s third dam, Good Tidings, was the mother of 1981 Graduate winner Safe Arrival.

Bret’s Grand Finale was the last foal out of Bret’s Journey, who died during the birth. Trouble with her joints prevented Bret’s Grand Finale from racing.

“I trained her and just wanted to see what kind of talent she had; she had a ton of talent,” Beegle said. “So, I made a broodmare out of her.”

While Beegle plans to give Arctic Warrior his chance against the sport’s top level, he will not sacrifice the horse’s ability to be successful.

“I can’t eat those trophies,” Beegle said, laughing. “I’m just looking to race him and make money with him and let each start dictate the next start. I don’t care if it’s at the Meadowlands or where it’s at. If he gets a bad trip, that’s one thing, but if he shows that everything is fine and I’m getting my butt kicked, then we need to step back and re-evaluate. This isn’t about my ego.”

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