Columbus, OH --- He wowed those in attendance by winning a qualifying contest by 15 lengths, followed that performance with a dominating debut score of 1:51.4 and became North America’s swiftest 2-year-old of the season with a new stakes record time of 1:50.3 in the $31,442 Dream Maker final at Mohawk on Aug. 7.
Despite these already impressive achievements in his young career, Summer Travel’s conditioner views the colt’s appearance in the second of two divisions of the Nassagaweya Stakes on Saturday (Aug. 26) at Mohawk Racetrack as an occasion that could reveal just how talented he truly is.
“We’ve liked him from Day One,” said Casie Coleman. “In fact, we saw him turned out a month before the sale as a yearling at Winbak and liked him a lot then; he’s a gorgeous horse with a big shoulder and butt. He has done everything right so far, but he has yet to face top, top horses like he will this weekend.”
Installed as the 4-5 morning line favorite, Summer Travel will have David Miller holding the lines as the two leave the gate from post position seven in the 10-horse field. Right beside him in post eight will be Pedro Hanover (Andrew McCarthy, Andrew Harris, 9-2) and California Cruisin (post six, Yannick Gingras, Nancy Johansson, 5-1). Another horse that has flashed potential is Odds On Lauderdale (Scott Zeron, Tony Alagna, 6-1) who possesses the coveted rail position.
Owned by Coleman’s West Wins Stables, Mac Nichol and Calhoun Racing LTD, Summer Travel was purchased for $35,000 at the 2016 Standardbred Horse Sale. A son of Western Ideal-Shark Tail, the colt, whose record stands at 3-3-0-0 with $26,781 in the bank, hails from an extremely prolific family.
His unraced dam is a full sister to 2004 older pacing Horse of the Year Four Starzzz Shark and she has foaled Art Two D Two (Art Major, $422,035), Majority Rules (Art Major, $124,887), Jokerman (American Ideal, $125,774) and Tech Trade (Western Ideal, $108,337).
“We were expecting to go higher for him,” Coleman said. “But we were very happy when the hammer came down and that is what we got him for. I’m not sure how it happened but we definitely were pleased; especially with his family and how he looked. He was Hip 22 in the sale though and sometimes things can go that way early on with people still looking at horses, or not arriving until that first day. And I have always had good luck with Western Ideals and American Ideals. He (Western Ideal) might not be as popular now because he is getting older.”
Although Summer Travel is a Pennsylvania-bred, Coleman, Canada’s leading trainer on five occasions, opted to follow the same course with him early in his career as she has with several of her other previous stable stars.
“We decided not to go in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes because we did not want to take the chance of traveling him too much or picking up sickness,” she said. “That’s just one of the things I do. We were fortunate with Betting Line; he was Ontario-sired and if that was the case with this horse we would have raced him here, but I followed the same program with Sportswriter, Betterthancheddar and Art Colony as far as keeping them out of those programs they were eligible to.”
Summer Travel is not only blessed with speed and strength, he also owns a tremendous disposition.
“He went as fast as he did with the plugs still in and well within himself,” Coleman said. “But he is also a sweetheart around the barn. He never gets studdish like many of them can and never gets worked up in the paddock getting hot or screaming and roaring. If you walked by him you would think he is a gelding. He does buck and play when he’s on the track and feeling good, but not in the barn.”
Although she acknowledges a young horse like Summer Travel that has already been impressive at such an early stage can make one look towards the future with high expectations, there is another element involved in Coleman’s assessment of her emotions towards what could very well be a budding star.
“It is exciting and scary at the same time,” she said. “He has actually been fighting some allergies but we think we have him over that. He is still staked to a lot of big races like the Metro, Governor’s Cup and Breeders Crown, but we have this kind of competition first this weekend.”
Saturday evening’s card also includes two C$40,000 eliminations for the Canadian Pacing Derby and the Eternal Camnation.