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Harness Racing: Schnittker speaks out about Check Me Out, heat racing
By Jay Bergman
Ray Schnittker has a plan for Check Me Out this Sunday afternoon at the Red Mile. And that plan has nothing to do with tradition.
Sunday marks the 47th edition of the Kentucky Futurity for fillies. It’s a race that requires a horse to win two heats to be declared the champion. Check Me Out, the leading standardbred in North America and a world champion, is favored to win the $64,575 second elimination division of the first heat, race four on the card, then pack her bags and head out of town.
Schnittker has plans for Check Me Out’s future but as far as racing in heats that is strictly out.
“I want her to race in the Breeders Crown, American National and Matron and then bring her back next year,” Schnittker said.
The idea of racing two or more heats is something that might force him to alter his course and that’s not something he’s willing to do.
The trainer, who has earned a handsome living over the years because of his expertise with trotters, will have a dilemma next year when the Hambletonian reverts back to its former self in some ways. The sport’s premier prize will be contested with both eliminations and final to take place on the same first Saturday in August 2013, unlike the current format that separates eliminations and final by a week.
“I don’t know what they are trying to do,” said Schnittker. “I know Jeff (Gural) is trying to change the game but no one is going to be happy if some horse dies racing in two heats and PETA shuts us down.
“The only thing people know when you mention heats is whether their dog is in heat,” Schnittker said with a note of sarcasm.
But Check Me Out will race for the fans in Lexington on Sunday afternoon and face a field of six rivals as Schnittker and driver Tim Tetrick hope to bag some traveling money before they journey to Woodbine for the Breeders Crown at the end of the month.
Check Me Out, a daughter of Donato Hanover, set a world record in last week’s Bluegrass at The Red Mile trotting a 1:51 2/5 mile.
“She’s been perfect. I think she’s more relaxed now maybe than she was earlier in the year,” said Schnittker.
Sunday’s field, in which Check Me Out drew post five, includes Hambletonian Oaks winner Personal Style (post four), recent world record setter Bluff (post 3) and the extremely fast Win Missy B (post 6).
None of those fillies have been able to match strides with Check Me Out this year and all could have a much longer day ahead. That’s because they are not likely to defeat Check Me Out in the first heat and if any of them are fortunate to win the second heat it would force a third heat to be contested.
In the end Schnittker may have in fact softened up his future competition by bowing out of the Kentucky Futurity for fillies one or two races early.
I guess he was worried about his big horse dying but he didn't care about Real Babe.
When was the last time a horse died after racing two heats? Is this something that occurs often?
You don't like heat racing, then don't enter the race..
- 1.Posted 12/11/2013 03:00PM
- 2.Posted 12/10/2013 02:23PM
- 3.Posted 12/10/2013 02:25PM
- 4.Posted 12/11/2013 03:32PM
- 5.Posted 12/10/2013 07:22PM