Massachusetts champ Keep Asking comes home for Battle of Bunker Hill Trot

Plainville, MA — The Grand Circuit returns to Plainridge Park on Thursday (May 16) featuring the $100,000 Battle of Bunker Hill Trot for 3-year-olds. Six have entered the race, but one of the key players is a hometown hero, born and raised.

Keep Asking won six times as a freshman and banked $283,813. Tom Melanson photo.

Keep Asking (Chapter Seven-Sensibility) was foaled in Rochester, Mass., in April 2021 and was destined for dual stakes eligibility, a result of Massachusetts’ resident mare program. And the colt took full advantage of all his opportunities during a freshman year that ended with him becoming a Massachusetts Sire Stakes champion.

George Ducharme, who is also from Massachusetts (namely Walpole, just a few pylons down the road from Plainridge), trains Keep Asking and he looked back on his star trotter’s first year on the track.

“He’s a little on the smaller side, so we kept him for just New York and Massachusetts and it worked out fine. He turned out to be a pretty good horse. He earned some money and everyone was happy,” said Ducharme.

His first six lifetime starts were in the New York Sire Stakes where he earned $148,813 by winning twice, finishing second and third one time each and never missing a check. He made the $225,000 final but drew post eight in adverse weather, got caught third over in traffic and eventually finished eighth, but only beaten 3-3/4 lengths.

“He had done everything we’d asked him to do. When he got good at the end, he drew the eight hole for the (NYSS) final and it came down pouring buckets that day at Yonkers. He really had no chance that day,” said Ducharme.

At that point, Keep Asking’s stay in New York had ended for the year, but his season was far from over.

Ducharme and Keep Asking headed back home in late September to compete in the Massachusetts Sire Stakes, which turned out to be a series he would go on to sweep.

The trotter won all three preliminary legs by a combined margin of 15 lengths and entered the $150,000 final as the prohibitive 1-9 favorite. And Keep Asking didn’t disappoint as he closed out his year with a 1:55.4 victory and put another $135,000 in the bank for his four week stand in the Commonwealth.

“We went back to Massachusetts and he dominated there and did it easily. He’s good and strong, finishing his miles. We didn’t have to stretch him out chasing and shipping him all over the country. That really made a difference and his confidence level really perked up at the end. He knew he was a good horse at the end, winning all those races. We’re happy with him that way,” said Ducharme.

“We raced the mare (Sensibility) so it’s a good story that our homebred turned out to be what he is so far. I really like his attitude and he really likes his job. He was very willing every time we asked him to make the next step and did it easily.”

Keep Asking will be making his first start of this year in the Bunker Hill Trot and looks to be a major contender coming off an easy gate-to-wire qualifier in 1:54.2 at Vernon Downs. But this may only be the start of something big as the colt is heavily staked this season.

“He’s filled out and matured. He’s Hambo eligible. We paid him to the Canadian Trotting Classic, Breeders Crown, all that stuff. He’ll tell us what he’s ready for but if he’s good enough, we’re going to give him a go for sure. We’ll get him over the big track and stretch him out a bit,” said Ducharme.

“I think he’s going to improve. Whether he can make the next step this year? We’re going to give him a chance to find out and let him tell us where he fits best. It looks like two of them (Karl and T C I) are heads and shoulders above everyone else, off of last year anyway.

I think he’ll be able to play with that group below Karl and T C I but we kept New York and Mass, so if he’s not good enough, he falls back into that league,” said Ducharme.

The $100,000 Bunker Hill Trot is carded as race five on Thursday with an estimated post time of 5:20 p.m. Post time for the first race at Plainridge Park is at 4 p.m. For the complete field for the race, click here.

— Ken Weingartner also contributed to this story

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