Ron Coyne Jr. and his partners might reach for the sky with Ozone Blue Chip, but the ownership group will have a better idea of their horse’s future following Thursday’s (June 1) third round of Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action.
Ozone Blue Chip competes in the first of three Pennsylvania Sire Stakes divisions for 3-year-old male pacers at Harrah’s Philadelphia. He faces a field that includes Fear The Dragon and Ocean Colony, both unbeaten this season, and his performance will help Coyne gauge whether to send the horse to the upcoming Pepsi North America Cup.
“He’s going to have to step his game up to show whether he really deserves to go,” said Coyne, who owns Ozone Blue Chip with Canada’s Blair Corbeil and Florida’s Chris Mazzone. “We’ll see that on Thursday. He’s in a tough group. If he puts in a real sharp effort and is right there with those boys we might consider going.”
Eliminations for the C$1 million North America Cup are June 10 at Ontario’s Mohawk Racetrack. The 10-horse final is June 17.
All six horses in the first division of Thursday’s Pennsylvania Sire Stakes are eligible to the North America Cup, with Ozone Blue Chip joined by Fear The Dragon, Ocean Colony, Photobombr Hanover, R J P, and Eddard Hanover.
The second division features three North America Cup hopefuls in Darling’s Dragon, Mac Attack, and Filibuster Hanover while the third group has four in Blood Line, Normandy Beach, Perfectly Close, and Huntsville.
Ray Schnittker’s Huntsville was the 2016 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer. He was upset by Fear The Dragon in the second round of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes on May 21 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Ozone Blue Chip is a son of stallion Bettor’s Delight out of the Real Artist mare Soiree and was purchased for $30,000 at the 2015 Standardbred Horse Sale. His third dam, JEF’s Eternity, was a Dan Patch Award winner and the mother of Dan Patch Award honoree Immortality.
“You pick a handful you like and hopefully they fall into your price range,” Coyne said. “And he did. So it worked out good for us. Personally, I like Bettor’s Delights. I think being Pa.-eligible was a bonus. We liked that about him. I liked the Artsplace line on the mare’s side and he was out of a Real Artist mare. That was another plus I thought. I just liked the way he looked, the way he stood conformation wise. It was all good.”
Ozone Blue Chip won two of eight races last year and earned $40,760. His only open stakes start came in the Breeders Crown, where he finished fifth in his elimination and seventh in the final after starting from post 10. He was timed in 1:50.4 with a :27.2 last quarter-mile.
“His year was OK,” Coyne said. “He was a horse that kind of got better every time he went out there. At the end of the year, the Breeders Crown was really the only stakes he had left, so we took a shot. Unfortunately he drew the 10 hole in the final, but he held his own.”
This year, Ozone Blue Chip has one win in three starts. He began his campaign with a win in a conditioned race and in his most recent start was fourth in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at Pocono. He was sixth at the top of the stretch and made up 3-1/2 lengths in the lane to finish fourth, beaten by 2-1/2 lengths.
“He ended up having some traffic early; he was like third over at Pocono and that’s always tough with the short stretch, but he got in gear and finished up pretty good,” Coyne said.
“I think he fits. He might be a notch under the top, top ones but we’ll see how the season goes. Some of them fall by the wayside and others get better. He does act like a nice colt. He’s got a high speed and he’s got a little class to him. We’ll see how it shakes out.”
by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications