For the second consecutive year, harness racing traineris bringing a son of stallion and the mare Celebrity Liza on to the trail, but there is little family resemblance between last year’s colt, Boots N Chains, and this year’s hopeful, Hititoutofthepark.
“It’s kind of like watching “Twins” with Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger,” Butenschoen said with a laugh. “Physically they’re nothing alike. Hititoutofthepark reminds me more of the Yankee Glide colt I had, (state-bred stakes-winner) Valley Of Sin; kind of about the same gait, same size.
“Boots N Chains was a little heavier, thicker type of horse. He was really kind of laid back. This horse here can get a little aggressive on the track at times. They’re two completely different kinds of colts.”
Hititoutofthepark is among 15 Hambletonian-eligible trotters competing in Saturday’s (May 14) Pennsylvania Sire Stakes divisions at The Meadows. Hititoutofthepark is in the third of four $41,000-plus divisions and will start from post five within the sulky. He is the 5-2 morning line favorite.
The seven-horse field also includes Hambletonian hopefuls Granite State, Treasure Keys K, Milligan’s School, and Desert Runner. Milligan’s School, a multiple open stakes winner last season, is the 7-2 second choice.
Hititoutofthepark won his 2016 debut on May 7 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, beating defending Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion Lagerfeld by a head in 1:55.
Last year, Hititoutofthepark won five of 11 races and earned $128,820 for owners Give It A Shot Stable, Kurt Welling, and VIP Internet Stable. His victories included divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, Pennsylvania All-Stars, and Tompkins-Geers Stakes.
He was scratched sick from the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship because of a 103-degree temperature. In his start prior to the PaSS final, Hititoutofthepark won by three-quarters of a length over Lagerfeld despite going off stride early in the race.
“He had a real good year last year,” Butenschoen said. “We could have had a little bit more money on his card. We didn’t really know what we had. We raced him in Pennsylvania mainly and gave him one shot in Lexington. He raced well there (finishing second in an International Stallion Stakes division) and we turned him out.
“Hopefully he’ll be OK for this summer and we’ll have some fun with him.”
In addition to the Hambletonian, Hititoutofthepark’s stakes schedule includes the Arden Downs, Currier & Ives, Keystone Classic, Matron, and Yonkers Trot.
“We’re not trying to gear up only for the Hambletonian,” Butenschoen said. “It’s just a shot at it. There are a bunch of partners in on him and we thought we’d give it a try and see what happens. We try to zig when other people zag. If it fits his schedule when it comes up we’ll take a look at it then.
“I’ve looked forward too many times in the past. I’ve had all kinds of great plans coming out of (winter training in) Florida and horses get sick or making breaks and you’re left scrambling, so I try not to look too far ahead. I kind of knew where his first three starts where going to be and then we’ll see what happens afterwards.”
Butenschoen hoped to have Boots N Chains pointed toward last year’s Hambletonian, but the colt never got on a roll after a 2-year-old campaign that saw him win a division of the Simpson Memorial Stakes and post runner-up finishes to French Laundry in the Kindergarten Classic championship and Muscle Diamond in a division of the International Stallion Stakes.
“I thought he was going to come back really well, but he just didn’t seem to get any faster from (age) 2 to 3,” Butenschoen said. “He didn’t make that next jump up. Hititoutofthepark, we’ll see. Hopefully he’ll make that jump. But they’ve both made money for me, so I’m not going to complain about either one.”
Other Hambletonian-eligible trotters competing on Saturday in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes are morning line favorites Tight Lines (3-1 in the first division) and Mikkeli Hanover (5-2 in the second division) as well as Alexander Hanover, Breedlove, Hollywood Highway, Lagerfeld, Love Matters, Marion Gondolier, Sliding Home, and Southern Cross.
Tyson is the 2-1 morning line pick in the fourth division, followed by Lagerfeld at 4-1.
by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications