10/25/2014 11:37PM

Yonkers: Natural Herbie shows heart in International Trot Preview win

Derick Giwner
Natural Herbie and Verlin Yoder are all smiles heading back to the winner's circle.

Perhaps they came to see Sebastian K and Commander Crowe renew their rivalry on the track, but people are beginning to learn you can’t count out Natural Herbie. The upstart 4-year-old continued to climb the class ladder and defeated the best trotters in the country in the $250,000 International Trot Preview on Saturday at Yonkers Raceway.

Contested at 1 1/4 miles, three horses darted off the gate on the backstretch to vie for early supremacy. Commander Crowe along the cones took on Arch Madness and Sebastian K around the first turn. The 11-year-old along the inside was refusing to yield and Sebastian K made things a bit easier when he made a very uncharacteristic break due to hitting the bike with his leg according to assistant trainer Bernie Noren.

With one challenger out of the way, Commander Crowe was allowed to yield into the pocket behind Arch Madness. Driver George Brennan set all the fractions—27 4/5, 57 1/5, 1:26 2/5, 1:55 1/5—with Commander Crowe chasing from the pocket throughout.

In what seemed like a long way from the front, Natural Herbie was virtually parked the distance in mid-pack. He got a brief rest heading to the half before owner/driver/trainer Verlin Yoder had his sharp gelding back on the move. The task seemed hopeless with him multiple lengths behind and hardly responding approaching the mile marker, but Natural Herbie, like he has shown in previous victories, had more in the tank.

Arch Madness faded in the stretch as Commander Crowe came up the passing lane and Natural Herbie continued his relentless charge. There was no stopping “Herbie” on this night. He kept to his business and edged out Commander Crowe by three-quarters-of-a-length in 2:24 4/5. Bee A Magician was third.

“Something he loves is looking a horse in the eye. It’s not something you can teach, but he loves it,” said Yoder about Natural Herbie’s perseverance in the stretch.

Despite winning three straight races, with Natural Herbie at his peak, Yoder is calling it a year. He will not supplement the son of Here Comes Herbie-Ljanearl to the Breeders Crown next month.

“I thought I stepped out when I supplemented him for the Centaur (Hoosier). I’m not that guy. I’m a small stable and that just not me,” said Yoder on the thought of supplementing. “He is headed for Florida tomorrow afternoon. We are going to shut him down for the winter and start him up next year.”

Assuming there is no change of heart, Natural Herbie ($21.60) finishes 2014 with 12 wins in 23 starts and $360,360 in earnings.

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