Victor hopes for an ‘Explosive’ 2009 season

by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

Ken Weingartner

Freehold, NJ — Adam Victor Jr. knows what it’s like to have a top 3-year-old trotter. He is new, however, to the feeling of expecting to have one. That’s where Victor finds himself, though, as he waits for Explosive Matter to return to action.

Six years ago, the Adam Victor & Son Stable saw Mr Muscleman earn the Dan Patch Award as best 3-year-old male trotter after winning the Breeders Crown, Kentucky Futurity, and Canadian Trotting Classic. But despite winning five of his last six races as a 2-year-old, he was flying under the radar entering his 3-year-old campaign; Mr Muscleman was ranked No. 26 in Stan Bergstein’s annual Experimental Championship Ratings.

It is safe to say that Explosive Matter will not sneak up on anybody. The colt won five of six races last season, including the Matron Stakes, and was second to divisional champ Muscle Hill in the Breeders Crown. Explosive Matter, who became history’s fastest 2-year-old trotter on a five-eighths-mile track with a 1:55 victory at Dover Downs last season, was ranked No. 2 behind Muscle Hill in this year’s Experimental Championship Ratings.

The rankings appeared in the March issue of Hoof Beats magazine and attempt to predict the fastest times for the upcoming campaign. Muscle Hill was rated at 1:50.3 while Explosive Matter was at 1:50.4.

Fotowon photo

Explosive Matter won five of six starts as a freshman and banked $342,968.

“When Muscleman was 3, we didn’t really know what we were in for; that’s the difference,” the 22-year-old Victor said. “I’ll always regret that I wasn’t at the Futurity for Muscleman. We didn’t really understand what we had at the time. This time, I know the deal.”

Following the Breeders Crown in late November, Explosive Matter enjoyed time off in New Jersey and North Carolina before resuming his training in Florida.

“He didn’t really come back into the barn until February. He had a good long break,” Victor said. “We ran into a great horse in Muscle Hill, but (Explosive Matter) showed what he is, which is an amazing horse. He’s a world record 2-year-old with a gorgeous gait. We don’t think we (over-raced) him; he only had six starts. We’ve given him every chance to come back at 3, we think. We’ve got our fingers crossed.”

Explosive Matter, a son of Cantab Hall, was bred by the Victors. The colt’s mother, Fireworks Hanover, won two of four lifetime races.

“She was to this day one of the best, if not the best, yearlings we trained down,” Victor said. “She was just sore; right knee problems. But she was extraordinarily talented.”

Knowing what he knows now, Victor is looking forward to the stakes season.

“For us, we think about the Hambletonian and the Futurity and the Breeders Crown,” Victor said. “I do think about it. You have to, that’s why you’re in the sport. But I thought we ran into one of the better 2-year-old trotting colt groups we’ve seen in a while. There are five or six really good trotters and there is always one or two that step up from out of nowhere. I’m excited for our sport this year. There are good horses coming back.

“The main thing on everyone’s mind right now is you just want the horse to come back and be competitive. You want to make the dance. You want to get your share of fun; you want to get your share of big races. Step two is being one of the top ones and step three is being the champ. We just feel very fortunate; so far, so good.”

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