Archive for October, 2009
October 29, 2009
Nice guys don’t always finish last. On Breeders Crown night, trainer Mike Keeling finished second, desperately close to first, and still kept a broad smile on his face.
It was the second time this year that Keeling’s Elusive Desire (above, Dave Landry photo), last year’s O’Brien Award winner as Canada’s two-year-old trotting filly of the year and this year’s frontrunner for an O’Brien repeat, had been nudged out of the limelight by divisional rival Broadway Schooner, who passed Elusive Desire in the last four feet to claim the Crown on Oct. 24 at Woodbine Racetrack.
In the Hambletonian Oaks in August, Elusive Desire finished third, just a head behind Broadway Schooner. Despite losing the division’s top two races by less than a length, combined, to the same rival, Keeling wasn’t devastated by the deja vu.
“No disappointment here. She raced well and it was just a head bob, basically,” said Keeling, who lives in Cambridge, ON, in the paddock after the race.
The Breeders Crown title may have been cruelly elusive, but Keeling certainly didn’t go home empty-handed after the race — he brought home a millionaire.
With her second-place effort, Elusive Desire (Angus Hall—Valley Amber) has now earned $1,136,348 in her career and has a record of 13-8-7 in 31 lifetime starts, including winning multiple Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Gold Final titles, the SBOA and Canadian Breeders Championships and last year’s OSS Super Final, a title she intends to defend on Nov. 14 at Woodbine.
“She’s the first one. I hope not my last one, I hope she’s a stepping stone, but it’s pretty exciting," said Keeling, 40, of the million-dollar milestone.
“You see a lot of million-dollar winners, but when you actually look at it and get some perspective most trainers only get one or two or three in their career. The great ones get a few more, but when you only deal with 15 horses and you get one, it’s a pretty good feeling.”
Keeling, who trains Elusive Desire for his partner Paula Wellwood, Charles Armstrong and Robert Fasken, is especially proud of reaching the magic number with a trotting filly, a group that doesn’t have the luxury of a bunch of million-dollar purses on its calendar.
For Elusive Desire, it’s been all about consistency, good competition, longevity and her fighting spirit — ingredients that Keeling hopes will combine for more happy days in 2010.
“I think she’s easy to cheer for. When people see her, they see that she’s not a big horse and they learn about her personality — she loves to race — and that makes her easy to cheer for,” he said.
“She’s been her best at the end of the season. That’s the great thing about her. And she’s raced against the Grand Circuit horses so no one can say that she’s just made a ton at home. It’s been a fun ride and I can’t wait do it next year with her again at four.”
October 29, 2009