Springbridge Duel and Desperate Man repeat in Gold action

Milton, ON — One was a trainer’s worst nightmare, the other a dream, but both Springbridge Duel and Desperate Man have done nothing but win since making their Ontario Sires Stakes debuts two weeks ago.

Back in Gold Series action at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Saturday (July 18), the freshman pacing males were sent off as heavy favorites in their respective $79,328 divisions and proved that their victories in the season opener had nothing to do with luck.

Springbridge Duel eventually shifted into high gear and sprinted away from his peers to a two length victory in 1:53.1. New Image Media photo.

Starting from the outside post nine, Springbridge Duel got away fourth as Twin B Heart Throb led the field to a :26.3 quarter. Next Big Thing took over on the front before the :57 half, but driver Bob McClure was content to let Springbridge Duel hover in fourth waiting for a wind break that came from Twin B Fighter heading for the 1:25.1 three-quarters.

Just over five lengths behind the leader at the top of the stretch, Springbridge Duel eventually shifted into high gear and sprinted away from his peers to a two length victory in 1:53.1. Avion Seelster closed well for second and Next Big Thing stayed game for third.

“Once Bob got his attention, he was really motoring that last eighth, but he definitely scared me at the head of the lane where it looked like he was kind of hanging a little bit,” said trainer Casie Coleman Herlihy. “But I’ve got to remember he’s green too, he doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

After Springbridge Duel’s 1:51.3 win on the front-end in the July 3 season opener, Coleman Herlihy opted to switch him to an open bridle in an effort to keep the fractious youngster calm, cool and collected. While she was pleased with his effort, she is not sure the new equipment will remain in place for the Big Jim-Stonebridge Damsel son’s next start in the Battle of Waterloo eliminations at Grand River Raceway on July 27.

“I was kind of worried he was too quiet,” she admitted. “I’m not a trainer that ever uses an open bridle much, I like a horse up on the rigging and I like keeping their attention, but saying that this horse is extremely hot, he’s hard to handle, and when he gets mad he’ll get chucking his head and he will make a break if you get fighting him. So you’ve got to keep him happy and kind of do things the way he wants so he doesn’t get upset with you.

“Bob gave him a perfect trip, he couldn’t have got a better trip, where we finally got to sit for a while and then come second over, that was a really good learning experience for him. “Now I’ve just got to figure out a happy medium with the horse.”

Coleman Herlihy trains Springbridge Duel for West Wins Stable, Steve Heimbecker and Mark Kantrowitz. The partners offered up $40,000 for the pacer at last fall’s Standardbred Horse Sale and wondered all winter whether they would even see the horse race, let alone recoup any of his purchase price.

“Casie sent me two really funny videos — funny now that the colt has shown what he can do — and he was not a friendly animal at the start and we really didn’t have any high aspirations for him,” said Heimbecker. “He’s definitely proven us wrong. I’m very excited to see what this colt can do for the rest of the year. And I know it’s a little early to say, but I am excited about next year too.”

Kathy and John Cecchin and their daughter and son-in-law, Nicole and Paul Davies, are also excited to see what else is in store for Desperate Man after the Shadow Play-Dreamlands Latte son cruised to a three length victory in Saturday’s second division.

Starting from post four with regular reinsman Trevor Henry, Desperate Man got away fifth and watched the fans’ second choice Uncontrollable reach the quarter in :27.2. As the pace eased Henry sent Desperate Man after the lead, achieving that goal just after the :57.1 half. On top by 2-3/4 lengths at the 1:24.3 three-quarters, Desperate Man sailed down the stretch to the three length victory in 1:52.3. Ucanttouchthis was second and Socrates Blue Chip finished third.

“I don’t think that we really ever thought, I mean John liked him and everybody liked him, but you know when you go to baby race you find out that everybody’s got a super nice colt, so we really didn’t have those kind of expectations at all,” said trainer Kathy Cecchin. “We’re happy that we have him and we really like him, but there’s a lot of nice colts out there and we’ll just hope for the best.”

Where Springbridge Duel was a headache for Coleman Herlihy and her team all winter, Desperate Man was a model student for the Cecchins, learning his lessons almost effortlessly.

“Super smart, John said all winter he’s much more like a 4-year-old than he is like a 2-year-old,” said Cecchin. “He just doesn’t do anything wrong really. He wears two head poles, but he doesn’t wear any big equipment, he’s just a pretty easy-going guy.”

Desperate Man was a $20,000 acquisition at last fall’s Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, with Henry, John MacLeod and Jim Fleming responsible for bidding on the youngster for the Cecchins, and soon after he arrived in Arthur the couple gave half-ownership of him to the Davies as a wedding gift.

“We were looking for a horse from the family of Outlawgrabbingears, and his mother is a sister to Outlawgrabbingears’ mother. Outlawgrabbingears is their good horse, maybe a horse of a lifetime, and so I said, ‘Dad and I will give you money when you buy a house or we’ll give you half of the colt, whatever you want,’ and they said that they wanted half of the colt so that’s what they got,” said Cecchin. “They’re pretty pleased about the whole thing I think. But like I said, it could have legitimately been half of nothing, because you don’t know, right.”

Through just two starts Desperate Man has earned $77,916 and while he is not eligible to anything other than the Ontario Sires Stakes, he will have ample opportunity to pad the Davies’ down payment fund. His next start comes on Aug. 21 when the 2-year-old pacing colts return to Woodbine Mohawk Park for their third Gold leg.

Video: Race 4 – Springbridge Duel; Race 6 – Desperate Man

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