10/24/2013 9:32AM

Yonkers: Lonewolf Currier hopes to find his form in Messenger eliminations

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Ken Weingartner/USTA Photo
Trainer Kevin McDermott thinks Lonewolf Currier does his best work on smaller tracks.

In the beginning of June there were many in the harness world thinking that Lonewolf Currier was going to be a major player in the three-year-old ranks. The son of The Panderosa paced a final quarter in :26 1/5 coming from last and nearly capturing the Art Rooney at Yonkers Raceway in the $275,000 contest.

“My phone was ringing off the hook,” said Kevin McDermott, his trainer.

Five months later, Lonewolf Currier is still in search of his first signature victory in the prestigious three-year-old class and he’s running out of chances. On Saturday he drew the rail in one of two $40,000 eliminations for the Messenger Stakes at Yonkers Raceway.

The eliminations will probably be the least taxing for Lonewolf Currier. With just 10 named on Tuesday, the $450,000 Messenger final will require just two horses in the pair of 5-horse eliminations to be removed to reduce the field to eight for the November 2 final.

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Brian Sears is listed to drive Lonewolf Currier as he did back in June. While Sears has had a banner year picking up great mounts and winning classic races throughout the season, Lonewolf Currier has had flashes of brilliance and moments of despair.

While he couldn’t follow up the Rooney second-place finish with another major effort, Lonewolf Currier put in a brilliant performance in the Del Miller Adios elimination at The Meadows on July 20. In that mile, catch-driver John Campbell made a huge brush to circle the field before the half and Lonewolf Currier did the rest, winning in 1:48 4/5 and appearing on the cusp of a breakout. That didn’t occur a week later in the final as he finished fourth behind Sunfire Blue Chip.

Lonewolf Currier hasn’t won since that mile in July but there’s reason to believe a return to the half-mile track may be just what the doctor ordered. McDermott raced the colt last Saturday on Breeders Crown night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono and Lonewolf Currier finished second in a $75,000 invitational for three-year-olds.

“He really doesn’t get over this track that well,” said McDermott before the race, indicating that the colt’s gait is different than many horses.

There was much anticipation that Lonewolf Currier would have earned at least twice the $266,648 he’s earned thus far in 2013 considering his wicked speed. Trips haven’t worked out to McDermott’s liking.

For example, the Little Brown Jug, a race that may have fit the colt better than the rest due to his handiness over the half-mile track, turned into a nightmare.

“I didn’t want to see him on the front end like that,” said McDermott, still showing some frustration with the race a month in the rear view mirror. Lonewolf Currier opened the mile hitting the quarter at Delaware in :25 2/5 and from that point driver Dave Palone was a passenger, cutting the half in :53 3/5 and three quarters in 1:21 4/5 before tiring.

“I would have much rather seen him sitting off the early pace and trying to make one move,” said McDermott, believing that his colt thrives on a trip like that and doesn’t try as hard after setting the pace.

Lonewolf Currier drew inside of Sunfire Blue Chip in the sixth race of 13 on the Yonkers program Saturday night (first post 7:10). The Adios champion drew post three with Yannick Gingras in the bike.

Sunfire Blue Chip finished a solid second to Captaintreacherous in his Breeders Crown elimination, but was roughed up badly in last Saturday’s final and finished seventh. He returns to the half-mile track at Yonkers for the first time since a fourth-place finish in the Rooney final in June.

The second $40,000 Messenger elimination, race seven, appears to have a competitive group of five hoping to make hay while some of the top Breeders Crown horses take a week off.

Lucan Hanover, third in last week’s Crown, gives trainer Casie Coleman a legitimate chance to take home two legs of the Triple Crown. Her Vegas Vacation captured the Jug but Lucan Hanover also raced exceptionally well in Delaware, winning a heat and finishing third in the Jug final. David Miller guides Lucan Hanover from the pole position.

North America Cup runner-up Twilight Bonfire (post 3), Odds On Equuleus (post 4) and Word Power (post 5) have all shown speed this year and should give Lucan Hanover a challenge.

The Yonkers program also includes two $20,000 eliminations of the Lady Maud Pace for three-year-old fillies. Trainer Casie Coleman has three fillies entered, including the $15,000 supplemental entry Scandalous Hanover.