by Ray Cotolo, for The Red Mile
Sweeping to command off a 55.1 half, Walner gradually drew clear of his rivals and sprinted home in the stretch to win one of five divisions for the $280,000 International Stallion Stakes in a world-record 1:51.3 Thursday (Oct. 6) at Red Mile.
The time beat Southwind Frank’s world record of 1:52.2 set in the International Stallion Stakes last year.
Dover Dan grabbed the lead through a 28.1 opening quarter, with Fraser Ridge trotting second and Muscles Jared in third. Walner flew from fourth to the lead marching into the far turn. Leading by three-quarters in 1:23.3, he kicked away from Dover Dan, who drifted enough to allow Fraser Ridge room to trot at the pylons.
Fraser Ridge got up for second with Dover Dan third.
Linda Toscano trains Walner, a Chapter Seven colt out of the Ken Warkentin mare Random Destiny. A winner of four in five starts, he has earned $78,750 for owner Kenneth Jacobs. Tim Tetrick drove the $2.40 winner.
“I told Linda that it felt like I was at [the half] in 57 and three-quarters in 1:25,” Tetrick said. “But when it flashed up :23, I thought ‘Oh shoot!’ He went to the wire, plugs in, and I asked him a bit, but he trotted all the way to the wire.
“He’s a great colt; I’ve liked him from day one. Even when I got to sit behind him down at [Pinehurst Training Center] I’ve liked him. He only had one little mistake, but he’s a good horse.”
Toscano also trained Chapter Seven, and compared this first-crop colt favorably to his sire.
“He acted like the real deal right from the first day,” she said. “He has a lot of the same traits his father does; he loves his work, he’s a big, beautiful-gaited horse, and he gets over the ground so easy that you have to be careful you don’t go too fast with him.”
“I figured [he’d go] 1:52, and I would’ve been happy with that, but 1:51-and-a-piece is just unbelievable,” Jacobs said. “We were very patient with him, and now we’re waiting for the Breeders Crown if we can get lucky enough to win that.
“I’ve never had a trotter this good.”