E L Titan is heading to Lexington for Friday’s International Stallion Stakes for 2-year-old male trotters and trainer Riina Rekila has high hopes for the lightly-raced son of Muscle Hill-Courtney Hall. Bred and owned by Erkki Laakkonen, the colt has won once in three starts and earned $27,414.
He won his first start in 1:58 on Aug. 22 at Mohawk Racetrack and finished second to Father Patrick, who is the No. 4-ranked horse in harness racing’s Top 10 poll, in a division of the Champlain Stakes a week later. He enters the International Stallion off a troubled-trip third in a conditioned race on Sept. 16 at Mohawk.
|E L Titan won his first lifetime start in 1:58 on Aug. 22 at Mohawk.|
“We started a little later with him, which was the plan,” said Rekila, who also drives E L Titan. “We wanted to save him a bit. He was a little sick in the spring, but that didn’t really change anything for us. His first stakes wasn’t until the Champlain, so we took our time. He felt so good sitting behind him that I didn’t want to ruin him.
“I have never pushed him. Everything he is doing, he is doing on his own and doing very easy. I don’t usually train too fast. The main thing is to build a nice 3-year-old.”
E L Titan is out of the mare Courtney Hall, a stakes-winning full sister to millionaire Cameron Hall. E L Titan is Courtney Hall’s fourth foal and the previous three -- E L Rock, Appomattox and E L Rocket -- each earned at least $200,000. Appomattox, who leads the trio with $368,518, is racing in Sunday’s Allerage Open Trot and E L Rocket is eligible to the Kentucky Futurity on the same day.
Rekila trained E L Rocket before the 3-year-old colt was sold to Ron Burke in June. E L Rocket, who made only two starts as a 2-year-old, has won five of 16 races this year and finished second in a division of the Simcoe Stakes. He also raced in the Hambletonian, finishing fourth in his elimination and failing to advance to the final.
|New Image Media photos|
|Riina Rekila also trained $200,000 winner E L Rocket before he was sold to Ron Burke in June.|
“They have some things that are similar, but I think (E L Titan) is a much better horse,” Rekila said. “E L Rocket was one of the fastest horses I’ve ever sat behind, but he was so big gaited that it was difficult for him to keep it together.
“It seems like (Courtney Hall’s foals) get better as they get older. That’s why we’re looking ahead for Titan.”
E L Titan is eligible to the Breeders Crown, but Rekila was undecided whether she would send the colt. The Breeders Crown eliminations for 2-year-old male trotters are Oct. 11 and the final is Oct. 19.
“We’ll see how he does here and make a decision,” Rekila said. “We were going to race last week (in the Bluegrass Stakes) but his white count was high so we skipped that. We’ll go by how the horse feels.
“If he races like he did in the Champlain, I think he is very competitive,” she added. “He is very strong when you sit behind him and he has speed. I don’t think he is mature yet; I think he is just doing it because he is talented.”
E L Titan races in the third of three International Stallion Stakes divisions. Bluegrass Stakes division winners Odds On Amethyst and Outburst also are among the 2-year-old male trotters racing on Friday. Outburst, who won in a world-record 1:53.1 last week, is in the second International Stallion Stakes split; Odds On Amethyst is in the first.
Friday’s card also features three divisions of International Stallion Stakes for 2-year-old filly pacers, headlined by Precocious Beauty. The filly has won six of eight races and finished second in the other two. She has won five in a row, including three consecutive stakes.