08/16/2016 2:41PM

Pocono: Miller has high hopes for Sutton in Colonial

Mark Hall/USTA Photo
Sutton was a closing third in the Hambletonian Final.

After seeing Sutton come within a photo finish of winning the Hambletonian earlier this month, co-owner/driver Andy Miller believes the 3-year-old colt can remain in the picture among the division’s best trotters the rest of the season.

Sutton’s next opportunity arrives Saturday when he competes in the $500,000 Colonial at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The race is part of Pocono’s Super Stakes Saturday and also features the $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine for 3-year-old pacers and the $350,000 Valley Forge for 3-year-old female pacers.

The Colonial’s nine-horse field includes the top six finishers in the Hambletonian, which was won by Marion Marauder. He beat Southwind Frank by a nose and Sutton by a neck, with that trio followed by Waitlifter K, Bar Hopping, and Milligan’s School.

[POCONO: Watch the best 3-year-olds compete on Super Stakes Saturday--Live on DRF!]

Sutton, trained by Miller’s wife Julie, will start from post seven and is 6-1 on the morning line. Marion Marauder, leaving from post two with Scott Zeron at the lines for trainer Paula Wellwood, is the 5-2 favorite.

“He raced super in the final of the Hambletonian,” Miller said. “I’m very happy with third, but to be that close, if things had gone a little differently maybe he could have gotten there. He got close to a win at least.”

Sutton, who battled health and soundness issues earlier this year, has won four of 17 career races and earned $280,306 for owners Andy Miller Stable, Jason Allen, and Doug Allen. Over his last five starts, Sutton has posted a win, two seconds, and a third. His only off-the-board finish came in his Hambletonian elimination, where he was fourth.

“He’s really been good his last three or four starts,” Miller said. “He had a few issues earlier in the year but the last month or so he’s been on his game. He’s been pretty sharp.

“I think he’s a major player. I don’t know if he’s the best, but I think he’s a major player in the 3-year-old ranks and might go on to be a nice aged horse after that. He’s a fast horse, it’s just a matter of keeping all the pieces of the puzzle in place.”

Sutton is a son of 2007 Horse of the Year Donato Hanover out of the stakes-winning mare I Wanted Wings. He was purchased for $40,000 at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale.

“We liked his family and the way he looked,” Miller said. “He’s a very nice looking horse.”

Last year, Sutton had two wins – including a track-record 1:54 4/5 effort at The Meadows – and three second-place finishes among his first six starts. He then got post eight in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, also at The Meadows, and was parked for three-quarters of a mile before going off stride in the stretch. From there, he had two off-the-board finishes at Lexington’s Red Mile and was shut down for the year.

“He had a pretty good year until the luck turned,” Miller said. “After the sire stakes final, things kind of went bad for him so we quit with him. But he was always very nice. He has a lot of speed and is a very talented horse; things just didn’t always work out for him.”

Earlier this year, Sutton won a qualifier at the Meadowlands in 1:51 2/5. The time is tied for the fastest mile of the season by a 3-year-old trotter. Dayson, another Colonial contender, shares the mark.

Marion Marauder (1:51 3/5), Bar Hopping (1:51 4/5), Southwind Frank (1:52 1/5) and Waitlifter K (1:52 3/5) also are among this year’s 10 fastest 3-year-old male trotters meeting in the Colonial.

“Hopefully with a little racing luck we can be close somewhere and get a good piece of it,” Miller said.

The Miller Stable also sends out Milligan’s School in the Colonial. Brian Sears is listed to drive the colt, who has won eight of 25 races and earned $490,226 for owner Stroy Inc.

“He’s a very nice horse,” Miller said. “He’s honest and goes about his work. He’s close all the time. He almost always races very good.”

First race post time is 6:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. 

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