01/24/2018 5:16PM

Bergman: Tritton stable powering on despite the loss of Mossdale Conner N

Ken Weingartner
Mossdale Connor N had to be put down after a battle with cancer.

Many have tried and many have consistently failed to harness top pacing talent from Australia and New Zealand. One man, Peter Tritton, has displayed an uncanny knack for importing reliable and high-class horses that have remained healthy and earned at the top levels at Yonkers Raceway. Bit Of A Legend N and Mackenzie A have each captured a signature Yonkers event, with ‘Legend’ taking the George Morton Levy in 2016 and Mackenzie A scoring in last year’s Blue Chip Matchmaker.

Tritton’s success has been a quiet one to say the least as his small stable has rarely gone too far from home and the conservative conditioner has managed to increase his horse’s earning power despite a lack of stakes payments.

But in 2018 much of that is about to change, as Tritton believes he’s sitting on a powerhouse.

“Mackenzie A is the best pacing mare in North America. Unless something comes along that I haven’t seen yet,” Tritton said. “We really haven’t seen the best of Mackenzie A yet.”

Those were pretty powerful words, but Tritton at this time a year ago had suggested that the imported daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven might need some time to acclimate and was cautiously optimistic as to whether she would blossom at all in 2017.

The timetable obviously advanced and with a lack of stakes races Mackenzie A didn’t have much to shoot for after capturing the Matchmaker and instead took some time off before capturing three straight Yonkers Open events at year’s end and taking a rest until this spring.

“I’m definitely going to pay her in to more stakes races,” said Tritton. The lone 2017 start away from Yonkers came in May at Harrah’s Philadelphia in the $150,000 Betsy Ross. Mackenzie A had not raced in a month following her Matchmaker victory and was taken off the pace yet finished sharply in a 1:49 mile with a back half close to 54 seconds to cross the line fourth and be advanced to third.

Tritton put Mackenzie A away for some time after that, along with the powerful Mossdale Conner N, who captured the Ben Stafford Jr. Memorial on that same afternoon in a breathtaking 1:49 effort.

“He’s the best horse I’ve ever had,” said Tritton of Mossdale Conner N.

Like Mackenzie A, Mossdale Conner N was put away with no major races to compete in and Tritton already having a solid Bit Of A Legend N in action.

“It was definitely by design to give him some time off,” said Tritton of Mossdale Conner N. “We brought him back and he was OK the first run (qualifier). The second time he was a little better.”

Mossdale Conner N paced in 1:52 2/5 in his first start off the shelf but was not as sharp the second time around on November 11.

“We noticed there was a trickle of blood coming from his nostrils,” said Tritton.

Mossdale Conner N, an 8-year-old son of Bettor’s Delight, would not get better. Tritton would try to jog him lightly but kept noticing trickles of blood.

Eventually the vets found that Mossdale Conner N’s lungs were filled with blood. “It’s amazing what kind of horse this was,” said Tritton. “To be able to race in 1:52 while in that condition.”

Needless to say Mossdale Conner N’s condition worsened and after blood was drained from his lungs and he received a transfusion, he did not improve. Inevitably the horse became too weak and had to be put down.

“They did an autopsy and discovered he had cancer,” Tritton said, well aware of the recent passing of champion Somebeachsomewhere to the same disease.

“It’s the kind of thing that happens rarely,” said Tritton. “But it’s not something that you will find out. A horse starts racing badly and you get rid of him without asking questions. In this case we did an autopsy.”

Looking back, Tritton thinks there may have been some signs of trouble. “He had a bump on his leg that he had from the time we got him,” said Tritton. “It wasn’t bothering him and we let it go.”

With 10 solid horses in his stable, Tritton appears to be moving forward and hoping that he can somehow fill the void with his pacing mare and obviously the exceptional Bit Of A Legend N.

“We’ve started back with Bit Of A Legend N and he’ll be ready for the Levy,” said Tritton. “I think I’m going to pay him into a few more stakes races this season.” Bit Of A Legend N has been more of a half-mile track specialist and there are usually Invitational races available to Tritton along the way. Yet given the uncertainty in this year’s aged division, Bit Of A Legend N’s earning power is likely to be enhanced.

Tritton also recognizes the value in horses that have had to race distances and that may prove better suited for the miles once in North America.

Additionally, Tritton understands the conditioned system. Two years ago he paid $40,000 for the veteran trotter Springbank Sam N. The investment has paid off handsomely with the now 11-year-old earning over $250K since arriving. “We’ll see how he comes back,” said Tritton. “I may have to race him in claimers.”

Currently the trainer has his eye on a 4-year-old Somebeachsomewhere-sired mare that is still in the process of being checked out. “She’s only won one time, so we could bring her over and race her up to non-winners of eight,” said Tritton.

It’s still early in 2018 but Peter Tritton appears poised for a very big year.