12/11/2013 3:43PM

Northfield: Word Power eyes Cleveland Classic victory

Maywood Park
Word Power won the Windy City Pace at Maywood Park in November.

The Remmens, brothers Ray and Larry, know a good horse when they get one. This past spring they were unsure what they were getting when owner Bradley Grant purchased the as yet untested Word Power following one qualifying mile.

“I don’t know what Bradley paid,” said Larry Remmen. “Buying a horse like this off a qualifier isn’t easy.”

It wasn’t until Word Power had qualified for the Remmens that they realized the son of Western Ideal was a very nice horse.

“In some ways we were lucky that he didn’t race at two. We were able to start him at the lowest level and build his confidence,” Remmen said.

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That’s one way of looking at the situation. In hindsight the colt was ready for battle and had enough talent to be placed in stakes races despite his lack of experience.

“He’s been good in every start with the exception of one race at The Meadowlands (New Jersey Classic) and his performance in the Messenger,” said Remmen.

The Messenger at Yonkers saw Word Power attempt to go down the road and faded badly in the stretch.

“We didn’t know what to make of it. We thought maybe he was getting tired,” said Remmen.

But Word Power bounced back in a big way, capturing the Windy City on November 14 at Maywood Park. The 1:51 4/5 mile over the half mile course was quite pleasing to Remmen.

“I think the experience on the half mile track has made him a better horse. He’s learned to leave quickly into the turn. I think that will help him a lot next year,” said Remmen.

As for this year, Word Power was among six horses entered in Saturday’s $126,000 Cleveland Classic, the final sophomore pacing stakes of 2013. It is scheduled as race 11 on the 14-race Northfield Park program (first post 6:30 p.m.)

Though it’s a select group, Remmen respects the quality of the field and by no means is he counting his money yet.

“That’s a solid field,” Remmen said.

In the group is recent Reynolds stakes winner Twilight Bonfire along with Captaintreacherous conqueror Dedi’s Dragon.

Word Power starts from post four with Scott Zeron again accompanying the colt as he did in the Windy City triumph.

With seven wins in 17 starts this year, Word Power has been up against the heavy hitters in the division and came within a neck of defeating Captaintreacherous, finishing second in the Cane Pace at Tioga Downs.

The Remmens are currently based at Gaitway Farms after spending much of their career in New Jersey stabled at the Meadowlands. Along the way they have conditioned some of the best horses to race in New Jersey and elsewhere. Bradley Grant, owner of Word Power is the son of the late John Grant, a longtime owner of top standardbreds including top sire Bettors Delight.

“We trained Composite and League Leader for John Grant,” said Remmen, recalling the pair of Invitational-type pacers that earned a healthy leaving in the metropolitan New York area back in 1980-81.

Bradley Grant will also be well represented in the Cleveland Classic with Apprentice Hanover, a colt by Somebeachsomewhere that enters the race on a two-race winning streak at Woodbine for trainer Ben Wallace. Grant spent heavily last year to acquire the colt during the early stages of his freshman campaign and unlike Word Power, the colt hasn’t reached the heights expected.

Apprentice Hanover drew post five with Jody Jamieson expected in the bike.

Twilight Bonfire (post 2) picks up Tony Hall to drive. The son of The Panderosa is closing in on $900,000 in career earnings for owner Robert Key. A large chunk of his 2013 earnings came finishing second in the North America Cup earlier this season.

Dedi’s Dragon, 11-times first or second this season in 24 trips to the post, is one of two entered in the Cleveland Classic from the sport’s leading trainer, Ron Burke. Dave Palone drives him from post three. Dedi’s Dragon most recently finished third behind Sunshine Beach in the Progress at Dover Downs.

Only The Lonely (Aaron Merriman, post 1) and the recent Ron Burke acquisition Good Day Mate (Brett Miller, post 6) complete the field.