09/08/2016 1:18PM

Scioto: Wind Of The North back to defend his Chip Noble title


When a horse establishes track records, is a world champion and competes in the Elitlopp, naturally expectations are going to be sky high for his next year of competition. While Wind Of The North commenced his season in grand style, his performances this summer have not been as stellar as his connections anticipated.

His conditioner, however, feels the 6-year-old gelded son of Cantab Hall is rounding into form and perfectly poised to return to the winner’s circle for the second consecutive year in the $100,000 Chip Noble Memorial Trot at Eldorado Scioto Downs on Saturday (Sept. 10).

“People were asking me at Pocono what was wrong with him after his last race there (fourth place finish on Aug. 28),” said trainer and co-owner Daryl Bier. “I was kind of disappointed with him too. He did not seem to be finishing his miles like I know he is capable of, but I worked on his feet and we got some confidence back in him with three wins from a bit of a class drop (before that Aug. 28 start).

“He’s already proved he likes the track at Scioto Downs and I really think he is coming into the race with a very good shot to defend his title. After all, he did win this race last year and I love his post position. It sets up perfectly for him as he has a lot of speed drawn to his inside.”

Also owned by Joann Dombeck, Wind Of The North will have the services of Chris Page when he leaves from post position four in the fifth race on the evening card. Although the gelding has amassed $555,708 in his career and won this contest in 2015, it does not appear he is meriting a serious shot to repeat from the morning line oddsmakers.

Wind Of The North is the second longest shot on the board at 8-1 in the select field of seven and only Bourbon Bay at 10-1 is receiving less respect. While the rest of the contenders certainly possess their own credentials and include Wings Of Royalty (9-2, post one), Maestro Blue Chip (3-1, post two), Muscle Up The Goal (4-1, post five), Homicide Hunter (5-2, post six) and Crazy Wow (5-1, post seven), Wind Of The North most definitely belongs.

“It is a strong, well-matched group, but he really is coming into his own and I think the Midwest tracks suit him,” Bier said. “The tracks out East are a little harder, except for Pocono, and Dover also has some nice banking, but tracks like Scioto have some cushion to them. It really helps with keeping their feet in good shape. Plus, I have Dave Palone in the bike. You can’t ever go wrong when Dave is driving for you. I have great faith in him.”

Despite a 2016 record of 16-5-2-2 and $84,860 in the bank, Wind Of The North’s campaign has definitely not been as successful as his connections had hoped, but Bier thinks an adjustment to his shoeing routine and cooler temperatures will improve his horse.

“He does like when the temperatures start to go down and I added leather pads with silicone to his feet,” he said. “That seemed to help him. Also, it could be my fault for starting him off too early. He was really good in the beginning of the year down in Florida, but after he set the track record at Pompano Park (1:52 2/5 on March 28) he did not seem to be quite the same. It’s possible I should have managed him differently and it’s not like he is making breaks, or not sound. He just has not been as strong to the wire as I know he is capable of.

“With any horse, you always have to work on their feet and keep them in good shape, plus there is all different kinds of things you have to figure out. It could just be some little thing that they don’t like and it might take you some time to put your finger on what it is. He is happy and healthy now, though, and we are looking forward to bringing him out to Ohio for this race.”

After Wind Of The North trots at Scioto Downs, Bier and Dombeck plan on keeping him in the Midwest during the fall.

“He really likes it there,” Bier said. “He showed us that last year and I still think he has plenty of trot in him. We are going to race at places like Hoosier and Dayton. Hopefully, will we not have to go up against the big boys every race, but he’s capable of it. I think he will give a good account of himself and then we will prepare him for when Dover opens. We know he really likes it there as well. Right now though we are just getting him ready for Saturday night and are excited to see him race.”

$100,000 Chip Noble Memorial - Race 5
1. Wings Of Royalty-Peter Wrenn-George Ducharme-9/2 
2. Maestro Blue Chip-Trace Tetrick-Jo Ann Looney-King-3/1 
3. Bourbon Bay-Aaron Merriman-Ake Svanstedt-10/1 
4. Wind Of The North-Dave Palone-Daryl Bier-8/1 
5. Muscle Up The Goal-Aaron Merriman-Christopher Beaver-4/1 
6. Homicide Hunter-Eric Goodell-Chris Oakes-5/2 
7. Crazy Wow-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-5/1

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