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Heaven's Gait is meeting his owner's expectations
Thursday, August 17, 2017 - by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

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Ken Weingartner
Freehold, NJ --- John Cummins has enjoyed success as a breeder with the likes of Dan Patch Award winners She’s A Great Lady and The Big Dog and he is hoping Heaven’s Gait can ascend to prominence as well.

Heaven’s Gait, who is owned by Cummins, has won seven of 12 races this season as he prepares for Sunday’s $263,100 Empire Breeders Classic for 3-year-old male pacers at Tioga Downs. The colt brings a four-race victory streak to the event after capturing his EBC elimination last weekend by 4-1/4 lengths over Chip Walther in 1:50.4.

He will start the final from post two with David Miller driving for trainer Nick DeVita.

Fred Brown photo
Heaven's Gait captured his EBC elimination last weekend by 4-1/4 lengths over Chip Walther in 1:50.4.

“You watch him and he’s getting stronger and more confident every time he races,” said Cummins, an equine veterinarian based in Lexington. “He’s a really nice colt, really sound, and he’s got a lot of speed. David has put him in positions where he’s gotten some really nice trips. It’s worked out well. He’s raced well.”

Sunday’s card at Tioga Downs also features the $257,850 Empire Breeders Classic for 3-year-old female pacers in addition to the $163,000 Roll With Joe Stakes for older male pacers, $53,700 Tompkins-Geers for 2-year-old female trotters, and a $40,000 leg of the Miss Versatility Series for older female trotters.

Post time is 1 p.m. for the day’s first race.

Heaven’s Gait is a son of stallion Rock N Roll Heaven out of the Somebeachsomewhere-bred mare Booya Beach. His family includes three-time Dan Patch Award winner Jenna's Beach Boy.

“There are some great horses in the family,” Cummins said. “I’d kind of gotten out of the breeding business, but I wanted a Somebeach mare just to have and to raise one (foal) a year. (Booya Beach) is the one I ended up with. She didn’t race, but I watched her train down as a 2-year-old and she had extreme speed. She’s a really nice mare.”

Heaven’s Gait had some difficulties getting started as a 2-year-old. He broke stride twice in qualifiers, once because he hit the race bike and the other time because of an equipment problem. He also made a break in his first race, but a shoeing adjustment seemed to correct the issue.

From there, Heaven’s Gait won two of four races and never was off the board before getting the rest of the year off.

“We had some bumps in the road that really weren’t his fault,” Cummins said. “We just took our time with him. We didn’t really get much done except to see that he was a nice colt. Then we concentrated on this year.”

Heaven’s Gait has won six of his last seven races with his only setback a fourth-place finish in his elimination of the Hempt Memorial. His best win time of 1:49 in a division of the New York Sire Stakes at Vernon Downs is tied for the fourth-fastest mile of the season by a 3-year-old male pacer.

The colt will remain on the New York circuit until a possible trip to the Breeders Crown at Hoosier Park in October. He also is eligible to the Matron Stakes and Progress Pace, both in November at Dover Downs.

“I just want to keep him (in New York) and concentrate on the sire stakes and then go from there,” Cummins said. “Hopefully we can keep him healthy and he can get stronger and be able to go with those guys (in the open stakes) at the end of the year. That’s our goal.

“We’ve had high hopes for him all along, so I won’t say he’s exceeding expectations, but he’s sure meeting them. He’s really doing well.”

In the remaining two EBC eliminations for the male pacers, In A Single Bound defeated Miso Fast by one-quarter length in 1:50.4 and Art Scene bested Funknwaffles by a neck in 1:51.2.

EBC elim winners on the filly side were Tequila Monday by 2-1/4 lengths over American Sara in 1:51 and Clear Idea by a neck over Roaring To Go in 1:52.

Last year’s Roll With Joe winner Rockeyed Optimist and runner-up All Bets Off lead a field of nine in this season’s edition of the race.

For Sunday’s complete Tioga Downs card, click here.

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