09/10/2015 9:48AM

Scioto: Beaver with power on Ohio Super Night

Conrad Photo
Trainer Chris Beaver ranks Kestrel as his best chance to win on Ohio Super Night.

Ohio is once again becoming a great state in which to train horses and Saturday’s Ohio Super Night culminates another strong year of sire stakes racing in the Buckeye state. Eight $225,000 races for 2- and 3-year-olds of both sexes and gaits compete on a 17-race marathon card at Scioto Downs to crown the best of Ohio.

One trainer that is enjoying the slot-infused purses across the state and the $25,000 bump in Saturday’s finals from 2014’s level of $200,000 per race is Christopher Beaver. The Ohio native and resident is just a couple of sire stakes wins from a career year, and with six starters including a pair of undefeated trotters, he very well could eclipse the $1,270,684 his barn earned in 2014.

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“I had to race in Canada for about seven or eight years. Now most of my starts are in Ohio and we’ve probably made about half of our money here,” said Beaver, who also attributes his recent success to other factors. “We are learning to do things better all the time.”

For Beaver, the sire stakes action begins in race four where he will send out a trio of 2-year-old filly trotters. The leader of his pack and the division is Kestrel, a daughter of Triumphant Caviar-Blackrock. She has yet to taste defeat in five career starts and is coming off a lifetime best 1:57 3/5 victory at Scioto last week.

“She seems to me to stand out in that division right now,” said Beaver, who may venture outside of Ohio with Kestrel next year. “I don’t feel like she has been tested much this year. We’ll probably try some stakes outside of Ohio next year.”

If his big gun fails to fire, Beaver also has Kerfuffle Cookie and Evanora in the lineup. Both fillies have won three of six career races, with the former sporting a better career mark of 1:58.

“The hobbles helped Kerfuffle Cookie, but he needs to be handled carefully,” said Beaver, who ranked the filly a distant second behind Kestrel.

Kestrel starts from post 6 with Aaron Merriman scheduled to drive. Dave Palone will steer Kerfuffle Cookie from post 2 and Evanora has the services of Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. from post 4.

While Kestrel is an obvious standout on paper, Beaver will have to hope for some luck if Kanthaka is to keep his unblemished record intact in the 2-year-old colt championship for trotters (race six). Perfect in six starts, the son of Triumphant Caviar-Elena got unlucky at the draw and will start from post 8 in the nine-horse field.

“He is a really good horse,” said Beaver of Kanthaka. “He’s had some outside posts and done fine, but he is not going to have his way in there with some fast horses to his inside. “

Beaver is really high on Kanthaka and will get to test his colt’s mettle not only on Saturday, but against open foes down the road. “He is staked to the Bluegrass (at The Red Mile) and I think in Indiana, too,” said Beaver.

Beaver’s backup plan is Lone Valley Sam. A runner-up in his last three starts, the Iron Duke-sired rookie has only gotten over the hump once in eight tries to begin his career.

“He is smart and handy, but he is not a deep horse,” admitted the trainer.

Sunrise Nibbles in the 3-year-old filly trotting final, race eight on the program, is Beaver’s final chance at cashing a big check. A winner of six races in eight starts as a 2-year-old, Sunrise Nibbles won her championship final in 2014 but has fallen on hard times in her second year of racing. Her season has been mired by breaks and the result is just one Fair track win in nine starts.

“She has lost her mind this year. She gave everything she had as a 2-year-old and hasn’t gotten much better,” said Beaver, who felt he had the filly as good as she can be going into the final.

The Scioto card also features two rich stakes—$225,000 Jim Ewart Memorial and $100,000 Chip Noble III Memorial—with Beaver represented by Il Sogno Dream in the Noble. The 4-year-old trotter has seen success this year in the Open ranks at Scioto but hasn’t been able to step up against some of the top older trotters like Wind Of The North, who he faces on Saturday.

“He came out of the gate better than I expected this year but leveled off pretty quickly,” said Beaver on Il Sogno Dream. “I don’t think he gives me 100% and he’s got a bit of an attitude, but I think he’ll race well on his home track Saturday.”

The action at Scioto kicks off at 6:30 p.m. and handicappers will have two guaranteed pools jump into. The annual $7,500 guaranteed .20 cent pick 8 starts in race 4 and a $5,000 promised pick four commencing in race 11.

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