The 2013 Hambletonian winner, who was sent off as the heavy favorite in the elimination, finished 1-1/4 lengths behind Your So Vain, individually timed in 1:53.
|Hambletonian champion Royalty For Life has earned $884,450 in 2013.|
“He raced fine in my opinion, but he was fighting a sickness the entire week before the elimination, so I’m sure he wasn’t one hundred percent,” trainer George Ducharme, who is stabled at Vernon Downs in New York, said. “We’re fortunate enough to get post six in the final, which is a relief. That’s a good spot for him.”
The son of R C Royalty remains atop his division this season with $884,450 banked along with a 5-2-0 record in 10 starts for Ducharme.
Royalty For Life also captured the $360,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial and his division of the $294,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial earlier this season. The young trotter also finished second in last year’s Breeders Crown at Woodbine.
Ducharme, a Norfolk, Mass. resident, has spent decades looking for his “once in a lifetime” horse and has finally found him.
“This is the best horse I’ve ever had and he’s a joy to be around. I’ve been in this game over 30 years, straight out of high school, and he’s just a dream,” Ducharme said.
“He’s a once in a lifetime horse, especially for a small-time guy like me,” he continued. “It’s been a thrilling season, one I’ll never forget, and hopefully it will continue.”
The strapping trotter has been quickest to the lead in six of 10 starts this season, while making a break in three.
“I think he’s good on the lead,” Ducharme said. “When he sees a horse he’ll swell up and fight them. He’s only been on a helmet a few times, but I think he’s at his best when he’s out on the front.”
Given the arduous calendar for the nation's best sophomore trotters, Ducharme pays close attention to the daily needs of his star pupil.
“They go so fast in this day and age and we go by a week-to-week basis with him to make sure he comes out of each race good,” Ducharme said. “It’s a battle each and every start, so we just try to keep him sharp and have him ready for the next battle.”
Ducharme was quick to speak about the "presence" of his youngster.
“He’s a big, rugged colt with lots of leg and a lot of presence,” he said. “He’s got a great attitude and comes out of his races feeling good. He’s a playful colt and good to be around. To be able to compete at this level is pretty amazing.”
Looking ahead to the rich classic on Saturday, Ducharme doesn’t take his competition lightly.
“It’s a very wide open race,” he said. “That horse of Frank Antonacci’s (Master Of Law) is coming into the final in great condition and I was really impressed with the way Your So Vain trotted home last week. It’s going to be a real good horse race.”
Bred and owned by Alfred Ross, along with Raymond Campbell and Paul Fontaine, Royalty For Life, who boasts a 1:51.3 mark, has earned $1,219,038 in his career.
Brian Sears is listed to steer the 12-time winner.
Royalty For Life will look to be added to the list with previous Canadian Trotting Classic winners such as Market Share, Muscle Hill, Donato Hanover and Deweycheatumnhowe -- all of whom were Hambletonian winners.
Completing the field will be Wheeling N Dealin (Post 1, Sylvain Filion), Punxsutawney (2, Corey Callahan), Toocool Forschool (5, Jody Jamieson), Pine Credit (7, Doug McNair), Corky (8, David Miller), All Laid Out (9, Yannick Gingras) and Smilin Eli (10, Tim Tetrick).
Post time for the Classic, which was carded as Race eight on the 12-race program, will be at 9:45 p.m., ET. A stacked undercard will include the C$365,000 William Wellwood Memorial Trot for 2-year-old colts and geldings and the C$374,000 Peaceful Way for 2-year-old filly trotters.
Post time for the first race will be at 7:25 p.m.