USTA Home > News Home > ‘Plodder’ Undici eyes 12 furlongs in French American Trotting Club second leg

‘Plodder’ Undici eyes 12 furlongs in French American Trotting Club second leg
Friday, August 17, 2018 - by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

       Decrease Text Size    Increase Text Size   Print  Email

Yonkers, NY --- When the group of 22 French trotters arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport in June, trainer Mark Ford was responsible for picking up six of them and transporting them home. While he was unsure what to expect from the batch of foreign horses, their easy temperaments came as a surprise.

“They all just walked right out of quarantine and walked right off the trailer just like they were supposed to,” Ford said. “They’re very docile, well-mannered, and good at traveling. It was a pleasant little surprise. I didn’t expect it would be that good of a bunch.”

Although Ford was initially skeptical of the idea behind the French American Trotting Club, which sought to bring a large group of French trotters to the United States to compete in a rich series at Yonkers Raceway, the trainer has been impressed by how the project came together. Ford commended Ron Burke, Ray Schnittker, and Mike Lachance for traveling overseas to select the horses.

“You’ve got to do your part. It’s an experiment; everyone should do their part and give it a try,” Ford said. “I was a little surprised at how many decent horses came out of there and maybe they will be good enough to race during the winter time.

“I think it’s a great idea. You’re stirring things up and trying to get rid of the same thing day after day after day,” he continued. “It was a lot of work for those guys to go over there in the middle of stakes season to do that and I think we all owe them a thank you. That was no easy task and every one that came over, for the most part, people have been very happy with.”

 
SOANY photo
Trainer Nicolas Roussel with trotter Undici and trainer Ron Burke in Argentan, France at the end of May.

Ford and owners George and Rose Bonomo drew 10-year-old Kaiser Soze son Undici. The veteran was 7-for-105 with $396,611 in earnings when he arrived. While his last win came March 30, 2014 in a €22,000 overnight going 2,800 meters at Chartres, Undici has had plenty of placings since then, 25 overall in his career.

Ford made several changes to Undici’s equipment to help the trotter adapt to the American style of racing. He added hobbles and a pole on the advice of Nicolas Roussel, one of Undici’s former trainers.

“I don’t have anything to base it off. I don’t know how he was over there, but (Nicolas Roussel) sent us an email and said if you put the hobbles on him, he’d be a lot better. You can’t wear poles over there either, so we put a pole on him. He needed a little bit of time to learn how to wear his rigging,” Ford said.

Despite the equipment adjustments, Undici’s gait makes it a challenge to compete on the half-mile track. In four local starts so far, the gelding has two sixth-place finishes, a fifth, and a second.

“He’d probably be a little better on a bigger track, but they don’t race on a bigger track at Yonkers,” Ford said. “He’ll touch a knee and bounce off a shin. He’s not real great-gaited and you have to be a little careful with him. He’s not a really big, robust, fast horse, but he’s ok.”

Undici has spotted the field at least 11 lengths in all his local starts except for in the first leg of the series Aug. 5. Undici got away fifth from the second tier in that start and moved first-over on heavy favorite Ursis Des Caillons with five-eighths to race. Undici sustained his bid, finishing a clear second to the favorite. The grinding style suits Undici, Ford says.

“I think he just sort of plods along and it depends on what the other ones do. He goes one speed and if they come back to him, I think he’ll finish up good,” Ford explained. “I don’t think he’s the kind of horse where, if they walk around there and sprint real fast, he doesn’t have any speed. He just plods along.”

Undici’s plodding style could be better-suited to the second leg of the series this Sunday (Aug. 19), which will go 12 furlongs, two more than the $35,000 first leg. Undici drew post three in the first division, which will see him face Ursis Des Caillons, Barry Black, Adagio de la Tour, Very Very Fast, Alpha d’Urzy, Bioness, and Boldie de Nuit. Undici is 12-1 on the morning line with Steve Smith in the sulky.

“I’d much rather have been in the other division,” Ford said. “I hate that mile-and-a-half stuff. I don’t think we’ve ever got a check in any of those mile-and-a-half races, but it probably will help him rather than hurt him because he doesn’t get away good and just sort of plods along. It seems like he can go six quarters in 30 seconds.”

Sunday’s card at Yonkers also features a second division of the series and a $44,000 Open Handicap Trot going one mile. First post time is 12:35 p.m. For entries to the races, click here.


Related Articles :


     NEXT NEWSROOM ARTICLE
Sophomore colts vie in $50,000 Ohio Sires Stakes

Search Articles: