09/12/2015 10:17PM

Mohawk: Field set for Maple Leaf final

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The top older trotters in harness racing were on display Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack for the Maple Leaf Trot eliminations.

A talented group of 13 older trotters, including two mares, were separated into two $40,000 eliminations. The top five finishers from each division punched their ticket to next week’s C$680,000 final. 

The underdog Natural Herbie came up with his best performance of the season, as he scored a 12-1 upset for owner/trainer/driver Verlin Yoder.

Bee A Magician, the 3/5 favorite, was sent out to the front by driver Brian Sears and posted an opening-quarter of 27 seconds, while Natural Herbie dropped in fifth.

JL Cruze made a second-quarter move to the front for driver John Campbell and took the field by the half in 56 seconds. Natural Herbie came first up for Yoder around the final turn and was 4 1/4 lengths off the lead, as JL Cruze reached the three-quarter pole in 1:24 2/5.

In the stretch, Bee A Magician edged to the outside from the two-hole and trotted by the leader to take command with an eighth of a mile to go. It appeared that Bee A Magician was going to capture the first elimination, but Natural Herbie showed his determination, trotting up a storm late to prevail in the final strides by a neck in 1:52 4/5.

“I figured there would be enough speed on the front end,” said Yoder following the race. “I was hoping I could be first up or second up, but it worked out pretty good and when I called on him he was ready.”

Lindys Tru Grit got up for third and Whiskey Tax finished fourth to round out the Superfecta. JL Cruze faded back to finish fifth, but did qualify for the final.

A 5-year-old gelded son of Here Comes Herbie, Natural Herbie burst onto the Grand Circuit scene last season and banked over $361,000.

This season hasn’t been nearly as productive for the Yoder trainee with just two wins from 14 starts, but the conditioner believes the horse gets better later in the season.

“He’s always been late showing up,” said Yoder. “He’s not trotting slower than he did last year, but he took his sweet time getting there.”

Natural Herbie now has 27 career wins and increased his earnings to over $849,000 with Saturday’s victory. The Yoder trainee paid $27.70 to win.

In the second elimination, Resolve showed why his connections put up $45,000 to supplement the 4-year-old to the Maple Leaf Trot.

Trained and driven by Ake Svanstedt, Resolve flashed good early speed to trot out to the front and post an opening-quarter of 27 4/5. Swedish trotting mare D’One, the 7/5 favorite, made a move in the second-quarter from fourth, but made a break taking her out of the race.

After a half-mile time of 56 4/5, Resolve took the field around the final turn with Daylon Magician pressing first up. Obrigado, who trotted along second-over, put in a couple bumpy strides going to three-quarters, but quickly recovered to remain close.

In the stretch, Resolve would not surrender his lead and trotted home in 27 3/5 for a 3 1/4 length 1:52 4/5 victory.

Intimidate, who got a pocket trip, finished second, while Obrigado split horses late for third. Flanagan Memory and Daylon Magician finished fourth and fifth to advance to the final.

A son of Muscle Hill, Resolve is owned by Hans Enggren and now has two wins from nine starts this season. The Svanstedt trainee has only missed the board once this season and has compiled earnings of over $243,000.

Resolve’s victory Saturday night was his eighth career score and pushed his earnings to over $457,000. The Svanstedt trainee paid $5.60 to win.

The C$680,000 Maple Leaf Trot will be the co-feature next Saturday (September 19) along with the C$700,000 Canadian Trotting Classic.

Following the eliminations, the post positions were drawn for next week’s C$680,000 final with the elimination winners selecting their post.

1 Resolve

2 Bee A Magician

3 Natural Herbie

4 Flanagan Memory

5 Lindys Tru Grit

6 JL Cruze

7 Daylon Magician

8 Whiskey Tax

9 Intimidate

10 Obrigado

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  -edited release (WEG)