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Melander believes in Apostles Creed
Friday, April 08, 2016 - by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

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Ken Weingartner
Freehold, NJ --- Trainer Jenny Melander hopes to build on her career-best year in 2015, although she will have to do it without one of her stable’s stalwarts, Wisenheimer, who is out for this season because of an injury. But if newcomers such as Bobby Weiss Series-bound trotter Apostles Creed can step up, she might have a prayer.

Melander, a native of Sweden, is in her fifth year of training horses and previously worked for stables such as Erv Miller, Mark Harder and John Butenschoen. Last season, she established career highs with 401 starts, 71 wins, and $822,608 in purses. Her numbers of starts, wins, and earnings have increased every year.

“That’s our goal,” said Melander, who has a stable of 23 horses, about half of which she owns with boyfriend Marty Noonan. “As long as we can beat the year before, we’re doing good.

 
USTA/Ken Weingartner photo
Apostles Creed has hit the board in half of his 26 career starts, while banking $129,325.

“That means we’ve got to make a million this year; I’m not so sure we can do that,” she added with a laugh. “I started out with nothing. Me and my boyfriend started out by claiming a few of our own. I didn’t have any big owner behind me, or anything like that. It’s not an easy game, for sure. You’ve got to start from the ground and work your way up and hope with success we get more and better horses.

“Now I have owners like Hans Enggren and Steve Organ and other owners from overseas. Hopefully the more we do good, we can interest some new owners and try to get some more nice horses.”

Wisenheimer, a 7-year-old male trotter owned by Lauren Keckler with Melander as lessee, earned $231,706 over the past three years. Apostles Creed, a 4-year-old male trotter that Melander and Noonan purchased for $30,000 at the Tattersalls January Select Mixed Sale, is among the horses Melander hopes can fill Wisenheimer’s horseshoes.

“He’s been my money-earner for me the last couple years,” Melander said. “I was hoping this guy could be the money-earner for this year, for the ones I own myself.”

Last year, Apostles Creed was in the stable of trainer Jimmy Takter, where he won once in 17 starts, but earned $110,355. His victory came in the elimination for the Dexter Cup (he was fourth in the final) and he posted four top-three finishes in preliminary rounds of the New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old male trotters.

“He’s a beautiful horse,” Melander said. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to buy him for $30,000; I thought he was going to cost quite a bit more. He had a good year last year with Jimmy and I knew he was well conditioned and he looks great. He is well put together. Jimmy doesn’t keep the older horses unless they’re top-notch and Apostles Creed isn’t going to be top-notch, but he can be good enough for us to make some money with.”

Apostles Creed has won once in eight races this year, hit the board a total of five times, and earned $17,770. Melander gelded the son of Credit Winner-Religulous in the hopes it would help the trotter keep his mind on his work.

“There were a few races last year where he might not have tried his hardest,” Melander said. “It’s the same now, which I was hoping was going to be better after he was gelded. He’s definitely not a front-end horse, he totally loses focus, but somehow he seems to end up on the front end anyways. If he’s not on the front end, he’s good enough. He’s definitely speedy enough. The race has to kind of set up for him in order to be good.”

Of his 13 career top-three finishes, Apostles Creed led at the halfway marker only three times. In his last four races in which he was on top at the midpoint, he failed to hit the board.

Apostles Creed is 4-1 on the morning line in the second of four $15,000 opening-round Weiss divisions for 3- and 4-year-old male trotters Monday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Amber Buter’s Dominus Hanover is the 5-2 choice. The five-week event finishes May 9 with a $30,000 final.

“He’s beautifully gaited,” Melander said. “He goes effortlessly. I think that’s his best part. He can leave with anyone, pretty much, but the problem with that is if you leave you may end up on the front end because he’s been second or third choice every time. But he can close pretty good too. He goes around any track and doesn’t hit anywhere.”

Melander gives Apostles Creed a variety of work in preparation for his races, including riding, swimming, and jogging.

“I try to keep him happy,” said Melander, an accomplished rider who has won three racing-under-saddle events in her career. “I’m a firm believer in keeping the older horses happy and doing the cross-training. The younger horses, I keep them on the track, but once they get older they’ve seen that round track enough. To me, it’s been very helpful. Everyone is different, but it seems to work for me.”

And if it works for Apostles Creed, it could help lead Melander to another career year.


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