Guardian Angel AS has been on a roll of late and is heading into Plainridge Park’s $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot razor sharp. He had won four consecutive stakes races against some of the best older trotters in North America before bad racing luck snapped his streak. After having started from Post 9 at the Meadowlands Racetrack, Guardian Angel AS finished fourth off of in a trip in which he was parked the entire mile.
Guardian Angel AS was dynamite leading up to his tough night at the ‘Big M,’ as his racelines (which appear below) clearly indicate.
In the $30,000 Great Northeast at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Guardian Angel AS dropped in second from Post 5 and then took the lead by the half. From there, he trotted away to a four-length win in 1:53.1 over a ‘sloppy’ track.
Two weeks later, it was the $100,000 Maxie Lee at Harrah’s Philadelphia, where he once again led most of the way and drew off to an easy 1:51 victory. He defeated Pinkman and Fiftydallarbill in the process.
Then, in a $40,000 leg of the Mr Muscleman at the Meadowlands, Guardian Angel AS cruised on the lead and then dug in to hold off a very gritty stretch bid by Cruzado Dela Noche. Guardian Angel AS hung on to win by a half length in 1:52.1 via a swift :26.3 final quarter.
His next start would make history.
On June 29 at Northfield Park, in the $175,000 Cleveland Classic, Guardian Angel AS was parked out for seven eighths of the mile, but he turned that into a wrapped-up win. He stopped the timer in 1:52, which lowered the world record for five-year-old and older trotting horse on a half-mile track. The mile rewrote Crazy Wow’s 1:52.3 standard, which had been set in 2017.
Anette Lorentzon trains Guardian Angel AS. She is well aware of his speed and versatility after having raced him for five years.
“We always knew he was a really good horse, but what surprised us most at Northfield is the way he did it,” said Lorentzon. “He never pulled the plugs after being parked three quarters of a mile. I wasn’t really sure how he would be there because he has such a big gait. But I also knew It’s a very good half-mile track at Northfield and he got around it fine.”
The 1:52 clocking on the half was amazing, let alone the trip he went to get it. Guardian Angel AS has always had a lot of speed, and he showed it in the 2018 Allerage Trot at the Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky.
Guardian Angel AS finished second to Homicide Hunter in 1:48.4, which was the fastest trotting mile in the history of the sport. Guardian Angel AS came first over at the half and had taken the lead in the stretch before Homicide Hunter blistered home in :26 flat outside of him. Although he finished second, Guardian Angel AS still trotted in an unbelievable 1:49.2.
The other asset that makes Guardian Angel AS, a five-year-old son of Archangel, special is his ability to strike from anywhere in the mile.
“He’s the kind of horse that can race from any position,” Lorentzon explained. “He likes to be up close, but he’s good if you also sit behind horses. He'll do what you want, but he doesn’t really have much patience. He is a stud and he knows it and he wants it his way.”
There will be over two weeks between his last start and the Spirit Trot, but Lorentzon said Guardian Angel AS will come in on his regular schedule.
“He raced really hard at Northfield and at the Meadowlands he had the nine hole and got away way back, so we took it easy with him after that. Now he’s been back to training normal this week. He’ll go two trips on Thursday to get ready for Sunday. We don’t really train him too hard between races."
As far as the outcome of the race on Sunday, a lot depends on where the horses start from, according to his trainer.
“It’s always tough when you go for this kind of money; there are always going to be good horses in the race. What I’m hoping is he gets a good post position so he has a good chance and he races well. A lot of how the race goes will depend on post position.”
Tim Tetrick, who will be in town to drive Shartin N in the Clara Barton Pace, will be at Guardian Angel AS’ lines.
It's interesting to note that coming into the Spirit of Massachusetts Trot, Guardian Angel AS seems to do his best work on a three-turn oval. He has won 20 out of 46 starts lifetime, but nine of those wins came in 12 starts on five-eighths-mile tracks, which gives him a 75 per cent win percentage for those outings.
Guardian Angel AS also trotted the two fastest winning miles of his life on the five-eighths surface at Harrah’s Philly, as he won in 1:50.4 in 2018 and 1:51 this past May.
The current all-time track trotting record at Plainridge Park is 1:51.2, which was set by JL Cruze when he beat Hannelore Hanover and Crazy Wow in the inaugural edition of the Spirit of Massachusetts Trot in 2017.
The $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot and $100,000 Clara Barton Distaff Pace will be held at Plainridge Park this coming Sunday (July 28). Post time for the first race will be at 2 p.m. Both stakes are sponsored by Plainridge Park and the Harness Horseman’s Association of New England (HHANE).