04/23/2015 5:29PM

Freehold: Divisionist looks to build on success in Dexter Cup


With his first career win now under his belt, Divisionist heads to Saturday’s Dexter Cup elimination at Freehold Raceway looking to build on his success. And trainer/driver Charlie Norris believes the 3-year-old trotter is ready to put his best foot forward.

Divisionist was winless in 13 races last season, going off stride four times, but had on-the-board finishes in divisions of the Reynolds and Simpson stakes plus two divisions of the Kindergarten Classic and one of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. The colt broke his maiden on April 14 with a 1:57 2/5 triumph at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

“He had an issue last year with breaks, but he’s come back well this year,” said Norris, who trains Divisionist for owners Carrie Norris, G And B Racing and Acadia Farms. “It was just a matter of maturity. He was really good there in his first start. Physically he’s matured a lot and we’re definitely on the right track for this year.”

Divisionist will start Saturday’s single elimination for the $133,170 Dexter Cup – the first stakes test on the road to August’s Hambletonian Stakes – from post five. He is 4-1 on the morning line. The three-horse Ray Schnittker-trained entry of Switchblade Hall, HA Taylor, and Bavaro is the 9-5 morning line favorite.

Rounding out the field are Handover The Money and Southwind Mozart from the stable of trainer Ake Svanstedt, Jimmy Takter’s Apostles Creed, and Oyvind Hegdal’s Explosiveday.

The top four finishers in the $44,400 elimination will join Broken Record, Gabe The Bear Dean, Habitat, and Sixteen Encores in the Dexter Cup final on May 2 at Freehold. Those four horses received byes based on lifetime earnings.

Apostles Creed, Divisionist, Habitat, Handover The Money, Sixteen Encores, and Southwind Mozart are eligible to the Hambletonian.

Divisionist, who has earned $44,612 in his career, is a son of Andover Hall out of stakes-winning mare Only Lonely. He was purchased for $40,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale and his family includes former Ontario standout Beer Budget.

“He’s out of a decent mare and he showed a lot of athleticism in his video,” Norris said about purchasing Divisionist as a yearling. “I thought he might be OK. He wasn’t great last year, but at different times -- even at Lexington when he made a break -- he showed a lot of raw speed.”

Last year in a division of the International Stallion Stakes at Lexington’s Red Mile, Divisionist went off stride behind the starting gate, but rallied from more than 20 lengths back to get within a length of the lead while racing three wide on the final turn. He was unable to maintain his surge, but finished fifth.

“Hopefully he’ll just keep getting better,” Norris said. “If you’re in the business, everyone has high hopes. That’s why we’re in the yearling game. I don’t know if he’s a (1):51 trotter or a (1):52 trotter, but I think (1):53 is not out of his reach at all. If he keeps in the right spots and gets his confidence up, I think he’ll be alright.”

Norris raced Divisionist with trotting hobbles last year, but has taken them off this season.

“I’m going to leave them off unless he shows me otherwise,” Norris said. “He’s really come around. He’s coming into (the Dexter Cup elimination) good and he’s fit enough. I don’t know if he’s top caliber, but in the secondary stakes and some of the earlier ones here, I think he can prevail a little bit.”

-Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, please visit www.ustrotting.com