05/06/2013 5:18PM

Harness Racing: 'Tornado' watch for Simpson Stakes at Meadowlands


An ill wind swirled around Tornado last season. Trainer Don Swick hopes the colt’s woes are in the past and Tornado can blow away the competition this year.

Tornado, a 3-year-old trotter entered in Friday night’s (May 10) John Simpson Memorial Stakes at the Meadowlands Racetrack, was limited to six starts last season because of illness. He debuted in mid-August and failed to pick up a win, but ended the campaign with a third-place finish in a division of the International Stallion Stakes.

“He was a little late coming around last year,” said Swick, who trains the horse for owner Bill Peshina’s Royal Wire Products Inc. stable. “We had trouble with him; his immune system was horrendous and he was sick all the time. Every time someone in the barn coughed, he got sick.

“We have high hopes for him, but he’s still green and needs some racing.”

[DRF HARNESS: Sign Up for the FREE DRF Harness Newsletter Today!]

On Friday, Tornado is in the second of two Simpson divisions for 3-year-old male trotters, starting from post five with driver Ron Pierce in a field of eight. Among Tornado’s rivals is Corky, who was last season’s New Jersey Sire Stakes champion for trainer Jimmy Takter.

The first division features New York Sire Stakes champ Fashion Blizzard, who drew post nine in a field of nine. David Miller will drive Fashion Blizzard for trainer Jim Campbell.

Tornado enters the Simpson off a seventh-place finish in a qualifier on May 4 at the Meadowlands. Tornado, who started from post seven, was timed in 1:58 4/5 and finished 8 1/2 lengths behind winner Ergo Hanover.

“I told Ronnie to take it easy with him,” Swick said. “Ronnie took him back and they ended up going :30.4 to the first quarter. He didn’t have a chance from there, but he made up some ground in the stretch. Ronnie said he was solid and trotted home good.

“He wore trotting hobbles last year. We took them off and he seems just fine.”

Tornado is a son of stallion Deweycheatumnhowe out of the mare CR Oh Suzanna. She won a division of the Historic-Acorn Stakes in 2000 and is a full sister to multiple-stakes-winners CR Kay Suzie and CR Renegade. Tornado was purchased as a yearling for $95,000 at the 2011 Lexington Selected Sale and is a half-brother to Caitrin Hall, who won the 2011 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship for 3-year-old filly trotters.

“He was a beautiful horse,” said Swick about Tornado as a yearling. “A tall, dark colt; very handsome. And he comes from an awesome racehorse family.”

Tornado’s stakes schedule this season includes the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, Hambletonian and Breeders Crown.

“He’ll do whatever you ask him to do and he’s got enough speed to go with anyone. I believe that. He just needs to get some experience and stay healthy.”

There also are two divisions of the Simpson Stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters on Friday night. The first division features Southwind Cocoa, who won last season’s New Jersey Sire Stakes championship. The second split includes Vida De Vie, who won a division of the Lady Suffolk on May 3 at Freehold Raceway, as well as stakes-winners Miss Steele and Find The Magic.

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