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O So Easy and Natural Herbie place their talents on display in Indiana Sire Stakes finals
Thursday, October 12, 2017 - by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor

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Kim French
Columbus, OH --- They both equaled or established a new Hoosier Park track standard in the same week, are diagonally gaited and hail from the same barn but other than sharing these similarities, Indiana champions O So Easy and Natural Herbie could not be more diametrically opposed to one another.

Each horse, one a new arrival on the scene and another who has established his presence over the course of six years, endeavor to enhance their impressive seasons with victories at Hoosier Park on Friday (Oct. 13) when they compete in their respective Indiana Sire Stakes finals in rein to their conditioner, Verlin Yoder.

“I’ve always said with this filly (O So Easy) she was either going to kill me or I was going to kill her,” said Yoder, who co-owns the 2-year-old daughter of Swan For All-Ostia Hanover in conjunction with Eleven Star Stables. “I knew her mother and that was why I was interested in her and I also knew her mother was a strong mare, but this filly would toss herself on the ground the minute you went to buckle the harness on her. All trotting fillies have their quirks though but this one required a lot of patience.”

Linscott Photography
O So Easy has compiled a record of 11-9-1-1, has collected $217,550 and is currently riding a six-race win streak.

Scheduled to perform in the evening’s second race, which possesses a purse of $220,000 and includes 11 other rivals, O So Easy will leave from post position six and is the morning line favorite at 6-5. From her brief career she has compiled a record of 11-9-1-1, has collected $217,550 and is currently riding a six-race win streak.

In this field only Custom Cantab, the second selection at 4-1, has amassed relatively the same amount of purse money ($190,486) and trotted close to the same lifetime mark (1:55.3).

O So Easy, until recently, was also the track record holder for her age, sex and gait (1:54.3), which she posted on Sept. 12 with a facile triumph in a $75,000 Indiana Sire Stakes final. That record was rewritten on Sept. 22 when Basquiat lowered that standard to 1:53.4 in the $240,000 Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stakes over the Anderson oval. That filly returned to capture a $58,000 division of the International Stallion Stakes at Red Mile on Oct. 6.

“People always ask me why I put her on the front end,” Yoder said. “It is not because she is speed crazy or doesn’t come back to me, but with 2-year-old trotting fillies you just have to try to keep them out of trouble and she is still very green.”

USTA/Mark Hall photo
Natural Herbie won the 2014 International Trot Preview at Yonkers.

The same cannot be uttered in regard to Natural Herbie. The 7-year-old gelded son of Here Comes Herbie-Ljanearl has earned $1.12 million, sports a resume of 102-38-20-12 and has captured contests such as the 2014 International Trot Preview at Yonkers in what was then a world record time of 2:24.4 for the 1-1/4 mile event.

Despite the horse not traveling as frequently to Grand Circuits events as he once did, Natural Herbie did finish second in last year’s $210,000 Charlie Hill Memorial Trot at Scioto Downs behind Dan Patch Award winner Obrigado and was a fast-closing third to world champions Homicide Hunter and Hannelore Hanover on Sept. 22 of this year in the $240,000 Centaur Trot at Hoosier Park.

While Hannelore Hanover returned to become the fastest female trotter in history (1:49.2) at Red Mile on Oct. 7 with Homicide Hunter in her immediate wake, Natural Herbie won a $20,000 sire stakes elimination at Hoosier Park on Oct. 5.

He also equaled the track record of 1:52.1 for older trotting geldings, which he shares with I Know My Chip, on Sept. 16 in a Hoosier Park Invitational.

Natural Herbie’s seasonal record stands at 17-6-3-3 and he has not been worse than third in his nine trips to the post since July 25. Four of his six 2017 trips to the winner’s circle have come since Aug. 26.

Natural Herbie will have earned more than $100,000 in each of the six years he has competed if he finishes first or second in Friday evening’s fourth race, which is a $50,000 Indiana Sire Stakes final for older horses and geldings. The gelding is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line behind Bridge To Jesse's (5-2, post position five, John DeLong) and will begin trotting right beside the favorite from post four.

“He is finally getting back to himself,” Yoder said. “I had three vets tell me to stop with him because he had a suspensory injury in his left rear hind. They said he could never come back and be the same horse.

“It was so rewarding for me when he equaled the track record after returning from that suspensory. He is a special horse and he loves to race so much, I did not want to take that away from him. So we gave him all the time he needed and it all worked out for him.”

Throughout most of this year, Yoder, who is the sole owner of the gelding, kept steel shoes on him and made the switch to aluminum recently.

“He has never went in under 1:54 unless he has aluminum shoes on,” he said. “Since I made that change he keeps improving. He was right there in the Centaur (Trot) and he had a great chance to win, but he just ran out of real estate.”

Although Yoder easily describes some of the difficulties he had training down O So Easy, the same circumstances never applied with Natural Herbie.

“He never wins by very much and I think the only time he did it was by like seven lengths,” Yoder said. “And that was because I tricked him. I tried to do it again when he was on the lead and started acting like he was race driving a ways before the finish by hooping and hollering at him. He just flicked his ears back at me and then forward again. He was onto me and it was like he was saying, ‘Are you kidding me? You think I’m going to fall for that from you again? You are not going to fool me twice.’ That’s what makes great horses; when they have their own personality and are that intelligent.”

Yoder is certainly aware Hoosier Park will host the 34th edition of the Breeders Crown on Oct. 27 and Oct. 28, but his horses will more than likely be enjoying the sunshine in Florida.

“I just said the other day I’m ready to head to Florida on Saturday morning (Oct. 14),” he said. “I checked into the Breeders Crown but decided 12 starts was more than enough for a 2-year-old trotting filly and Herbie is racing well now. We’ll turn out for a few months, then bring them back and hope they continue just as well next year.”

To review the full fields, odds, post positions, drivers and trainers for the Friday card, which also includes 10 other sire stakes races and purses totaling more than $2 million, please click here.

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