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Will ‘Cheddar’ Get Better With Age?

O’Brien Award finalist Betterthancheddar ended his sophomore year at the top of his game and trainer Casie Coleman says the late bloomer is champing at the bit to pick up where he left off.

Despite being unraced at two and requiring a mid-season break to really get rolling at three, Betterthancheddar put all the pieces together at the end of the year to earn an O’Brien Award nomination in the Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt category up against North America Cup winner Up The Credit. He earned 17 votes for his contributions to Canadian harness racing while Up The Credit took home the trophy last weekend with 30 votes cast in his favour.

A standout fall campaign during his three-year-old season helped boost Betterthancheddar’s bankroll to $777,116. He won 10 of his 18 races including his last five. Among his biggest accomplishments were victories in the Cane Pace, American National, Windy City Pace and a thrilling victory in front of a hometown crowd in the 2011 Breeders Crown final.

While Betterthancheddar didn’t take home any hardware at the O’Briens this year, there is no doubt the Bettors Delight-Lady Ashlee Ann colt will be one to watch as he transitions into the aged ranks.

Coleman told Trot Insider that Betterthancheddar was shipped to Hunterton Farms in Lexington, Kentucky for about five weeks following his Windy City Pace victory before returning to work mid-December.

“I planned to give him time off until the New Year, but he was too sharp and I didn’t want him to hurt himself,” noted Coleman. “He was climbing the fences at Hunterton Farms so I brought him back early.”

Coleman says she and her partners plan to map out a stakes-filled 2012 campaign for the frisky four-year-old.

“I haven’t decided when I’m going to bring him back. I’m going to discuss it with my partner Steve Calhoun. I’m not too worried; I’ve been in 2:34 with him now so he’s ready to rock and roll.

“We plan to stake him pretty aggressively,” added the Cambridge conditioner, who is already sizing up her competition in the aged pacing ranks, which includes the recently crowned Older Pacing Horse of the Year, Foiled Again. “We know he’s a four-year-old squaring off against the big dogs, but he went faster than Foiled Again that night [of the American Nationals] in Chicago. He’ll be in all the Open events in Canada and we’ll probably do the same in the U.S.”

Coleman is well aware of the horse's quirks, hopeful that 'Cheddar' takes more bites out the competition than her stable staff.

"One thing he had a habit of doing was making a quick break at the start of a training mile or warming up. He’s even looked awful post parading some nights. He doesn’t have many problems at all, but he jerks around like that for no apparent reason," said Coleman. "Something else he’s known for is being a bad biter. We have signs all over the place at the barn. We’re not going to geld him so we’re going to have to deal with it."