Hightstown, NJ — Iteration, a full sister to multiple Dan Patch Award winner Gimpanzee, heads to Vernon Downs this week to begin her 2021 campaign in the opening round of the New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old female trotters. The Marcus Melander-trained filly, who won the series championship at age 2, competes in the second of two divisions on Friday.
“It’s her first start but I’m very happy with how everything has been going,” Melander said. “She’s filled out very nicely and she feels like she’s more mature. She had speed and she had ability last year, but she didn’t really understand everything. The money she earned was almost like a bonus because she was a little bit immature mentally.”
Iteration, by Chapter Seven out of Steamy Windows, won five of 10 races and $315,009 last year for owner Courant Inc. In addition to winning the NYSS final, she was victorious twice on the Grand Circuit, capturing the Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes and a division of the International Stallion Stakes.
In the NYSS championship, Iteration went off stride before the start and trailed by more than a dozen lengths at the quarter-mile point before rallying with regular driver Brian Sears to win by a nose over Aela Jamieson at Yonkers Raceway.
“She could definitely go, but Brian had to work with her and teach her,” Melander said. “When she had a closed bridle, sometimes she got a little too grabby. And sometimes when we opened her up, she got a little bit too lost. Otherwise, she was a real nice 2-year-old. She proved she could go on the Grand Circuit, and I’d be surprised if she wasn’t that kind of horse this year as well.”
Before tackling the Grand Circuit this season, Iteration will focus on New York, where she will try to follow in the footsteps of her brother Gimpanzee as a two-time NYSS champion. Melander also had a two-time filly champ in Hypnotic AM.
“We’ve been very fortunate in New York,” Melander said. “Obviously, you have to find the right horses. We have a half-mile track that we train the horses down on, so when they start racing on those half-mile tracks in New York it feels like our horses have learned how to go around the half. I don’t know if that has something to do with it. But we’ve been lucky, and it’s a real good program.”
On Friday, Iteration faces a field that includes Aela Jamieson as well as Kentuckiana runner-up Big City Pearl and Breeders Crown third-place finisher Splash Blue Chip, who is a half-sister to world-record-setter Plunge Blue Chip.
“It will not be a walk in the park, there are some nice horses in that field, but it’s perfect to start in the New York Sire Stakes, especially at Vernon on a big track,” Melander said. “I really like Vernon. It’s a nice track, a nice place to race.”
Melander also sends out a filly in the NYSS first division. Debtors Adversary, by Chapter Seven out of Met’s Rival, was unraced at 2 and enters her start Friday with three starts in maiden races this season. She has a second and two thirds.
“She’s a little green,” Melander said. “She felt good as a 2-year-old but got a little sore when we got down in times. I think she’s a pretty nice horse, but she needs a little bit more experience. I think she will be a good horse for New York; maybe not a Grand Circuit-type horse. Hopefully if she’s sound and fresh all year she can make some money in New York. It’s always tough when they haven’t raced as a 2-year-old, but we’ll do our best.”
In addition to the two NYSS divisions for fillies, Vernon hosts two splits for 3-year-old male trotters — headlined by returning series champ Steel and Dexter Cup winner Incommunicado — as well as multiple Excelsior A and Excelsior B divisions. Racing begins at 6:10 p.m. (EDT). Complete entries can be found here.