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Broad Bahn looking for quickest route to Victory Lane
Friday, July 29, 2011 - by Jay Bergman for the 2011 Hambletonian

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Cranbury, NJ --- While his owner and family managed to travel the longest distance to reach the Hambletonian, trainer Noel Daley hopes his sophomore trotter Broad Bahn is prepared to take the shortest route to the winner's circle in this year's edition of trotting's most prestigious prize.

Owner Lief Alber, his wife and three children elected to forgo conventional means traveling from their native Denmark to the metropolitan New York area for the sport's biggest race. Instead, Alber and company hopped a plane from Copenhagen to Los Angeles where they rented an auto and embarked on a cross-country journey, through places like Las Vegas and Memphis (two homes of Elvis Presley). Then they turned north hitting the nation's capital before making it to what they hope to be the Promised Land on August 6.

"Mr. Alber loves to drive," said his business manager Ole Bach. "This was his chance to see the country in a different way with his family."

For Bach, who along with Alber selected Broad Bahn from the Standardbred Horse Sale's auction in 2009, there is much reason for enthusiasm heading into this Saturday's elimination race. After a promising 2-year-old campaign ended one race too soon, Broad Bahn, already a big horse, has come back stronger in 2011.

"Mr. Alber loves to look at the videos of the yearlings," said Bach. "He goes through the book and then sends me his information before I go to the sales."

Once Bach is at the sales he must approve the conformation before any bidding takes place.

"With Broad Bahn he was a very big yearling and on the video he showed an enormous stride. Mr. Alber really liked that," recalled Bach.

"Because Broadway Hall (Broad Bahn's sire) isn't syndicated he doesn't get the greatest book of mares. I think that's why the yearlings are somewhat undervalued at auction," noted Bach. photo
Broad Bahn has banked $369,528 in his career.

Bach and owner Alber elected to give trainer Noel Daley a chance with the youngster after the yearling sale. According to Bach, Daley wasn't so sure what exactly he'd been given when the horse showed up in his barn in the fall of 2009. That first impression of Broad Bahn changed dramatically once Daley put him on the racetrack.

Daley, who made a name for himself with another large-sized trotter in Mr Muscleman, found that Broad Bahn exhibited long range speed -- even if he lacked a little quickness due to his size. One thing Broad Bahn did have at two was a solid gait and the ability to put himself in front of the action. Those attributes can go a long way towards juvenile success. In fact Broad Bahn seemed well on his way to capturing last year's Breeders Crown. A solid placing in the rich Wellwood Memorial at Mohawk to then division leader Pastor Stephen had Daley and Bach optimistic they could win the big one.

"He had something bothering him for six weeks leading up to the Breeders Crown," said Daley. "We thought it was a gravel that would eventually pop so we kept going with him.

"Each week he would go out before the race and look horribly lame warming up," recalled Daley, "then somehow in the race he would throw it all aside and race well."

In the Breeders Crown elimination Daley sent the horse onto the track and couldn't believe just how bad he looked warming up.

"We were definitely thinking about scratching him," remembered Bach. "I think all of the other horsemen watched him warm up and figured if they put pressure on him he would give way or make a break."

Instead Broad Bahn pulled off a miraculous mile turning away every attacker that looked him in the eye. Broad Bahn reeled off fractions of :27.3, :55.3 and 1:24.3 on his way to a resounding 1:55.1 victory for driver Jack Moiseyev.

What repeated X-rays hadn't revealed to the team in the weeks prior to the Crown elimination they did in fact show after when it was discovered Broad Bahn had suffered a fracture of the hind coffin bone. Obviously not being able to race in the Breeders Crown final was a letdown, but knowing how tough the colt had to be to continue to race despite his discomfort was reassuring.

An uneventful winter brought Broad Bahn back this year and physically the colt has never been better.

"We wanted to get a driver we could stick with," said Bach. "Leif really doesn't like it when we have to switch from driver to driver with each race."

The team was able to secure Yonkers leading driver George Brennan, who has gone with Broad Bahn so far this season, and the results to date are essentially mixed. A third in the $500,000 final of the Earl Beal Jr. at Pocono and a second place finish in the Stanley Dancer two weeks back at the Meadowlands are on the scorecard so far.

Daley thinks all signs are pointing in the right direction.

"One day we're going to have to see how this horse responds going down the road," he noted the other day. "George was upset with his drive in the Beal. He let Pastor Stephen go and thought he would be a good horse to follow, but then Pastor Stephen let Dejarmbro go and there was nothing we could do."

From Bach's perspective the seconds and thirds have been great training for the colt.

"Before the season started we spoke about not sending this horse to the front and cutting the mile every week. You can't win these races that way. We needed to have a horse that would be able to race in a hole," he said.

Unfortunately, as Daley claims, sitting in a hole isn't always the best thing for Broad Bahn.

"He takes some time to hit top gear. He can't just snap out of the pocket and blow right by."

For Daley, who's been to the big dance before with high expectations, Broad Bahn is a different horse than his last contender, Explosive Matter, a colt who finished a solid second in Muscle Hill's record-setting 2009 Hambletonian.

"Explosive Matter was in many ways just a brilliant horse."

But Daley and others in this year's edition of the Hambletonian see no horse closely resembling Muscle Hill.

"I think Manofmanymissions definitely has the speed. I don't know what his problems are but he seems a bit difficult to drive," remarked Daley.

Owner Alber had a fleeting moment of Hambletonian success back in 2008 when his 22-1 shot Atomic Hall captured an elimination heat, only to finish ninth in the final. This year Broad Bahn gives him the opportunity to go the distance.

And you can bet that's just the way he likes it!

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