‘Landen’ set to go in Graduate

Ken Weingartner

Hightstown, NJ — Fox Valley Landen might have had difficulty traveling a straight path as a 2-year-old, but he got moving in the right direction last season at age 3, winning 11 of 14 races and being named Illinois’ best sophomore male pacer.

That success has propelled the gelding on to the Grand Circuit this year, with the trail leading Fox Valley Landen and driver Kyle Husted to Ontario’s Woodbine Mohawk Park for Saturday’s opening round of the Graduate Series.

It will be the first trip to Canada for Husted, an Illinois native who began his driving career by participating in amateur races at the age of 15 in 2006.

“It’s exciting,” Husted said. “I’m definitely looking forward to it. To me, (Fox Valley Landen) is a really good horse. I think after last year he deserves a shot to see what he is. We’ll just go from there.”

Fox Valley Landen finished the 2023 season with $140,550 in purse money. Patricia Fryman Photography.

Fox Valley Landen, a son of Somestarsomewhere-Oozie’s Finale, was purchased for $22,000 at the 2021 Walker Standardbred Sale. His second dam, Ooh’s ‘N Aah’s, was an O’Brien Award winner and the mother of Omen Hanover, a mare that earned more than a million dollars on the track and produced 2016 Breeders Crown winner Someomensomewhere.

“I loved his pedigree,” said Husted, who owns Fox Valley Landen with David Brigham and John Schwarz Jr. “For Illinois, that was a superb pedigree. And he’s really a gorgeous horse. He had all that going for him. I thought for Illinois, he checked all the boxes.”

Fox Valley Landen, trained by Husted’s wife, Amy, won two of 11 races as a 2-year-old, earning $29,461. After an offseason of maturing, he returned at age 3 to realize the potential Husted had seen in the horse the previous year. He finished fourth in his seasonal debut in a conditioned race at Harrah’s Hoosier Park, then won 11 of his next 12 starts, with only a second-place finish preventing the streak from reaching a dozen.

His top win came in the $105,000 Robert F. Carey Jr. Memorial Championship at Hawthorne Race Course, and he finished the season with $140,550 in purse money.

“I tell everybody I thought he was a really good 2-year-old, I just could never steer him,” Husted said. “He had no power steering whatsoever. I was really disappointed with his 2-year-old year. Not to sound arrogant, but his 3-year-old year he was the horse I kind of thought he was.

“He really grew up as a 3-year-old, and knock on wood, we haven’t had very many issues. He’s super manageable now. He does anything you want him to do, and he gets home well.”

Fox Valley Landen has finished off the board in two races so far this season but was facing older rivals in the opens at Hoosier Park. In the Graduate Series, he will meet only 4-year-olds. On Saturday, he will leave from post seven in the second of two C$66,500 divisions for the pacers and is 15-1 on the morning line.

Juravinski Memorial Cup winner Huntinthelastdolar is the 2-1 favorite from post eight, with Yannick Gingras driving for trainer Per Engblom.

“It’s not an easy race by any means, but it’s certainly easier to at least be in with your own kind,” Husted said. “(Fox Valley Landen) is a horse that takes a lot of work to get ready and he’s just now getting tight. He’s still got room to improve.

“I wasn’t disappointed about drawing the seven-hole. He’s a horse that doesn’t need to be that close to the front. If you look at his lines from last year, he came some really big halves. He definitely races from well off the pace better than he does from up close.”

It’s My Show, last year’s North America Cup and Little Brown Jug winner, is the 9-5 favorite in the first Graduate division for the pacers. He will leave from post five with Scott Zeron driving for trainer Linda Toscano.

In addition to the two divisions for the pacers, there will be one Graduate division for trotters Saturday at Mohawk. Osceola is the 3-1 favorite for driver Doug McNair and trainer Gregg McNair. He will leave from post four.

Mohawk also will host the second round of the Miss Versatility Series for older female trotters and two divisions of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes for 3-year-old male pacers on Saturday.

M-M’s Dream is the 6-5 favorite in the Miss Versatility while Legendary Hanover and Captain’s Quarters get the morning-line nods at 6-5 in the Somebeachsomewhere splits.

Racing begins at 7:10 p.m. (EDT) at Woodbine Mohawk Park. For free programs, visit the track’s website here.

Back to Top

Share via