06/14/2017 2:51PM

Mohawk: Enterprise the early choice in Goodtimes final

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Enterprise was an easy winner by two lengths in his Goodtimes elimination.

When he first began racing, Enterprise sometimes looked for the quickest way to exit the track. Over time, though, he seems to have settled for the fastest way to the winner’s circle.

Enterprise is 5-for-5 in his career as he heads to Saturday’s C$251,000 Goodtimes Stakes for 3-year-old male trotters at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario. Last week the Marcus Melander-trained colt won his Goodtimes elimination by two lengths over AWOL Hanover in a lifetime-best 1:53 1/5.

The Goodtimes is one of the major stakes on the road to August’s $1 million Hambletonian. Last year’s Goodtimes winner, Marion Marauder, went on to win the Trotting Triple Crown (Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot, Kentucky Futurity) and received awards for Trotter of the Year in the U.S. and best 3-year-old male trotter in Canada.

Nine of the 10 Goodtimes finalists are eligible to the Hambletonian: Enterprise and fellow elimination winner International Moni as well as Shake It Off Lindy, Jake, Southwind Woody, Seven And Seven, Southwind Cobra, AWOL Hanover, and Guardian Angel As.

Saturday’s card at Mohawk also includes the C$1 million North America Cup for 3-year-old male pacers, C$440,000 Fan Hanover Stakes for 3-year-old female pacers, C$365,000 Roses Are Red Stakes for older female pacers, and the C$253,000 Armbro Flight Stakes for older female trotters. Racing begins at 6:30 p.m.

Enterprise will start the Goodtimes from post four with driver Tim Tetrick. The colt, owned by Courant Inc., raced only once last year, winning by 9-1/2 lengths in 1:58 1/5 at Harrah’s Philadelphia in December, and worked his way through conditioned-level competition before facing stakes-caliber foes.

“He was very immature,” said Melander, who began training Enterprise in late summer last year. “When he saw an exit (from the track) he wanted to go out. I trained him on the straight track all fall and in November he felt great and ready to go. He felt like a good horse but I wanted to race him once to see how he was. He was still very immature in that race. If you take a look at it, you’ll see he was going like a snake down the stretch. But he had plenty left.”

A son of Chapter Seven out of the mare Shes Gone Again, Enterprise is a half-brother to New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Guess Whos Back and his family includes Dan Patch and O’Brien awards winner Poof She’s Gone. Enterprise was purchased for $100,000 at the 2015 Lexington Selected Sale.

Enterprise prepped for the Goodtimes with wins in conditioned races at the Meadowlands before capturing a division of the New York Sire Stakes at Vernon Downs.

“I didn’t mind that he didn’t race much last year,” Melander said. “If he wasn’t ready, he wasn’t ready. It was good in a way because he didn’t have to race against the best ones right away, even if he probably could. He needed the experience, that’s for sure. He’s behaving pretty good; at Mohawk (last week) he was perfect. I’m very happy with how his races have been going so far. It’s exactly how we planned.

“He moves so easy, even though he’s a pretty big horse. He’s got speed, but he never gets tired. Of course that will happen when he faces tougher horses; maybe it will happen in the final on Saturday. But he’s a very strong horse. He’s got the tools to be a good horse.”

The 25-year-old Melander trains 30 horses in central New Jersey. In addition to Enterprise, he has a Hambletonian hopeful in colt Long Tom, who earlier this season won the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship. Melander’s uncle, Stefan, won the 2001 Hambletonian with Scarlet Knight.

“It’s still several weeks until the Hambletonian and anything can happen,” Melander said. “But I wouldn’t trade either of my horses for anyone. I couldn’t be happier right now. We’ll see what happens. I try to not think about the Hambo, I just try to think about the next race. I feel pretty calm about that. We just take one race at a time because I know a lot of things can happen on the way. Of course, that’s what we’re aiming for. But you never know what will happen. It’s a long road.”

Following is the field for the Goodtimes with listed drivers and trainers.

PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer

1-Shake It Off Lindy-Brett Miller-Frank Antonacci

2-International Moni-Scott Zeron-Frank Antonacci

3-Jake-Sylvain Filion-Luc Blais

4-Enterprise-Tim Tetrick-Marcus Melander

5-Southwind Woody-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke

6-Seven And Seven-David Miller-Tom Durand

7-Mass Production-Rick Zeron-Rick Zeron

8-Southwind Cobra-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke

9-AWOL Hanover-James MacDonald-Luc Blais

10-Guardian Angel As-Brett Miller-Anette Lorentzon

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