Campbell hopes they finish in the same spot as well.
Thinking Out Loud, starting from post No. 1, won his Matron elim by a nose over Bettor’s Edge in 1:50 on Nov. 25 at Dover Downs. Campbell and Thinking Out Loud will begin from the rail again in the Matron final and are the 5-2 second choice on the morning line behind 6-5 Heston Blue Chip.
In his Matron elim, Thinking Out Loud was fourth through the first half of the mile before using a steady first-over attack to narrowly overtake Bettor’s Edge in a tight stretch duel.
|Thinking Out Loud was a narrow winner in his Matron elimination.|
“Those horses fought hard right to the wire, there’s no question about that,” Campbell said. “Bettor’s Edge is no slouch; he’s been a player at that top level for the last half of the season.
“(Thinking Out Loud) raced a real good mile, but I wasn’t that surprised. He raced extremely well in the final of the Progress, he just had to overcome traffic, but his mile there was just as good as the (Matron) elimination. The last two races have both been exceptional.”
In the $270,000 Progress Pace, Nov. 18 at Dover Downs, Thinking Out Loud started from post seven and was seventh through the opening half-mile before finishing second to Heston Blue Chip.
Thinking Out Loud (Ponder-Los Angeles) has won seven of 22 races this year and earned $1.15 million for trainer Bob McIntosh and breeders/owners Robert McIntosh Stables, C S X Stables and Al McIntosh Holdings. His triumphs include the $1.47 million North America Cup and $101,600 division of the Bluegrass Stakes. He was second in the Progress and $250,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes championship.
Although Thinking Out Loud typically does his racing from off the pace -- he’s led at the half only once in his 22 starts -- Campbell is grateful to have post one as a starting point Sunday on Dover Downs' five-eighths-mile oval.
“It certainly helps,” Campbell said. “He’s not a super gate horse, but he does leave OK. It doesn’t compromise your chances like the outside posts with a lot of early speed inside on the small track. I’m certainly happy to have the rail.
“He’s been a closer throughout the whole year,” he added about Thinking Out Loud. “He’s got a tremendous turn of speed and he can carry it a good distance. It’s not like it’s a little burst of speed. He can carry it a long ways.”
Sunday’s Matron features several of the 3-year-old male pacing division’s top money-winners. In addition to Thinking Out Loud, stakes winners Heston Blue Chip ($941,677), Bolt The Duer ($823,477) and Bettor’s Edge ($573,797) all rank among the division’s top nine in purses.
Heston Blue Chip’s winning credits include the Breeders Crown and Progress Pace, Bolt The Duer has won the Adios and Messenger stakes and Bettor’s Edge captured the Monument Circle.
Bolt The Duer will start the Matron from post two, Heston Blue Chip from post four and Bettor’s Edge from the outside, post eight. Hillbilly Hanover, who ended Heston Blue Chip’s four-race win streak by defeating him by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:50.3 in last week’s other Matron elim, leaves from post six.
“There’s going to be early speed, you can be sure of that,” Campbell said. “When you get horses of that caliber racing on a small track, everybody wants to be forwardly placed. The first quarter is going to be hot and after that it depends on the pace of the second quarter and who is in front. You don’t know that until we get situated by the quarter pole.”
Following is the field for the $176,663 Matron Stakes for 3-year-old male pacers, with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Thinking Out Loud, John Campbell, Bob McIntosh; 2. Bolt The Duer, Mark MacDonald, Peter Foley; 3. Shady Breeze, Corey Callahan, Judith Welty; 4. Heston Blue Chip, George Brennan, Linda Toscano; 5. Escape The News, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke; 6. Hillbilly Hanover, Yannick Gingras, Burke; 7. I’m The Pied Piper, Ron Pierce, Burke; 8. Bettor’s Edge, David Miller, Toscano.