02/23/2012 10:43AM

Win streaks on the line in Cam Fella Series at Woodbine


Meaningful stakes action gets under way at Woodbine on Saturday night (first post 7:10 p.m.) as Itrustyou puts his 13-race win streak on the line in the second division of the $30,000 opening leg of the Cam Fella Series (race 10). The event, billed for 4- and 5-year-olds, represents a new challenge to the streaking pacer who showed speed and determination in taking the Exit 16W and Complex series at the New Meadowlands.

While Itrustyou moves across the border into Canada this weekend, he leaves behind driver Yannick Gingras and moves into the stable of David Menary, if only temporarily while at Woodbine. U.S.-based trainer Ron Burke sends most of his stock to Menary north of the border. What Menary inherits is a horse that truly has been battle tested at the Meadowlands. Brett Miller picks up the drive.

Itrustyou’s rise to fame in the early part of 2012 is reminiscent of last year's winter star, St Elmo Hero. Last year, it was St Elmo Hero who brought a 23-race winning streak to Toronto to race in the Cam Fella series only to be scratched after entering the race. He would later re-enter at Woodbine and suffer his first career defeat against the top pacers on the grounds.

But Itrustyou has a long way to go to reach the top level. Thanks to a series of late-closing events designed to attract inexperienced 4- and 5-year-olds, the gelded son of Third Straight has been able to build his resume while already enriching Burke Racing Stable LLC's bank account to the tune of $110,300 in 2012.

While Itrustyou has been dominating in New Jersey, Modern Legend has built his own reputation at Woodbine over the last three months. In December, he closed out an abbreviated racing campaign with a personal best 1:50 4/5 clocking in the Ontario-bred Autumn Series final. In January, he swept through two legs and then the $50,000 final of the Snowshoe Series, winning all three legs by open lengths.

Bred-trained and owned by David Drew, the son of Modern Art has won eight times in 12 career starts, but most interestingly has never lost a race with Jack Moiseyev in the sulky. That streak currently stands at six.

On Saturday night, race tactics could play a key roll in the outcome as Modern Legend drew post 6 and Itrustyou will start from post 9. What's interesting here is that Modern Legend has already shown the ability to sprint from the gate at Woodbine, a track with the longest run into the first turn in harness racing. He showed that form hustling to the front in a 26 3/5-second opening quarter in the Snowshoe final.

While Modern Legend may have the post-position edge, a key question is whether he’ll have a conditioning edge. Like most of the top Burke stable horses, Itrustyou has been racing at a top level without missing a week of competition. Modern Legend has been idle since Jan. 21, with his connections perhaps pointing to this race.

What both Modern Legend and Itrustyou will experience Saturday is a first encounter with 5-year-olds. While on paper the three 5-year-olds in the field don't show the winning streaks or even the stellar form of the two favorites, it would be wise not to count them out. One of the quirks with late-closing races this time of year is often good horses are beating up on inferior ones.

With most late closers limited to 3- and 4-year-olds, the more seasoned horses tend to be racing at a tougher and even more competitive level. Certainly, Reibercrombie fits the mold of a horse racing against open company this winter. The gelding drew post 7 and hails from the top connections of trainer Casie Coleman and driver Paul Macdonell.

One winning streak is sure to be broken Saturday, but it’s going to take some time before anyone comes close to the 28-race winning streak of this race's namesake, Cam Fella.