03/21/2012 4:04PM

Woodbine Harness: Horse of the Year San Pail returns to the races


San Pail, who swept the 2011 edition of the Glorys Comet, returns to defend his title on Saturday at Woodbine Racetrack. The 49-time winner, co-owned by his breeder, Glenn Van Camp, has banked $2,977,885, in a career that has also yielded three Maple Leaf Trot triumphs.

The reigning Horse of the Year in both Canada and the U.S., who is trained and co-owned by Rod Hughes, hasn’t lost a race since capturing the 2011 edition of the Maple Leaf Trot on July 23.

Van Camp is elated to see the gelded son of San Pellegrino-Village Beauty make his return at the Toronto oval for the first time since his sparkling score in the Breeders Crown last October.

“I am very excited because we’ve just been thrilled by the way he has been racing the last few years,” said the Port Perry resident. “We are looking forward to it. I couldn’t help but be a little more excited when you end up winning Horse of the Year. That’s quite an honour in itself.”

Even though the 8-year-old only was able to get one qualifier under him, instead of the planned two, the 77-year-old isn’t worried.

“I was quite pleased with it,” said Van Camp of the gelding’s March 15 qualifier, which he won in 1:55 3/5 at Mohawk. “All you have to do is get a good tightener in and that’s basically what he did. He used a little bit of his old methods, he wasn’t going to let anyone go by him in the stretch. There is nothing wrong with that.

“He may not be quite as tight as he would be if he got another qualifier, but that’s the way things go,” he continued. “The weather was bad that one day and there was no advantage in doing that. When you make those decisions, you have to stick with them.”

In the lone $50,000 division of the Glorys Comet, for trotters 4 years old and older, San Pail will leave post five with regular driver Randy Waples in the sulky.

But it is OSS Super Final winner Mister Herbie that San Pail will have to keep his eye on.

“I know Mister Herbie has been an excellent horse,” said Van Camp, of the Jeff Gillis trainee, who is riding an eight-race win streak. “As they say, it’s a horse race and anything can happen. I know that San Pail will do his best.”

Also on Saturday’s program, 4-year-old and older pacers will duke it out in two $50,000 divisions of the first leg of the Spring Pacing Championship Series.

Mystician will headline the second division from post four for the O’Brien Award winning trainer-driver duo, Jeff Gillis and Jody Jamieson, respectively.

The son of Camluck-Mystic Mistress sports a record of 11-14-4 in 39 lifetime starts with $1,607,792 in career earnings and will look to notch his fourth victory of his aged campaign this weekend.

The 2010 Metro Pace winner is owned by Gillis, Ken Henwood, Mac Nichol and Gerald Stay.

The $60,000 second legs of the Glorys Comet and Spring Pacing Championship are slated for Saturday, March 31, with the $125,000 finals scheduled for Saturday, April 7.

(edited press release - Ashley Mayotte-WEG)