Day At The Track

Connor hopes dreams come true

05:05 AM 18 May 2018 NZST
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Muscle N Beauty
Muscle N Beauty is a daughter of Muscles Yankee-Cabaret Hall.
Ken Weingartner Photo

Hightstown, NJ --- Chuck Connor Jr. stood in the race paddock at the Meadowlands Racetrack one recent morning and looked around at the 2-year-old trotters and pacers on hand for a training session at the North Jersey harness racing oval.

“Right now, everyone has got hope,” Connor said. “This is where the dream starts.”

Connor would like to be living the dream in several months when the 2-year-olds are in the midst of their rookie seasons. Connor and his wife Janice, along with their son Brian, train a small stable of horses in Goshen, N.Y., based at Historic Track adjacent to the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame.

The Connors have a stable of 17 horses at the moment, with nine 2-year-olds. Six of the 2-year-olds made the trip last week to the Meadowlands for their first training session away from home.

“You have some that look like an A, some that look like a B, some that look like a C,” Connor said with a laugh. “But right now I’m hopeful that we’ve got a couple of As. It’s looking OK. It’s their first time here and things are a little exciting. It’s a little different for them, but at least they’re learning.”

The Connors’ 2-year-olds on the trip, all trotters, included colts Amico Mio Bi (Donato Hanover-Lapponia) and The Chutzpah Kid (Conway Hall-Ms Fushsia) and fillies Muscle N Beauty (Muscles Yankee-Cabaret Hall) and Taja Mahala (Trixton-Kindling).

Muscle N Beauty’s dam Cabaret Hall is a half-sister to stakes-winner Cash Hall and full sister to stakes-winners Cartier Hall and Capetown Hall. Taja Mahala’s dam Kindling is a half-sister to Personal Banner, who upset Moni Maker in the 1996 Breeders Crown.

“You hope for soundness, number one,” Connor said about evaluating his 2-year-olds. “Then that they show you a little speed and each week they increase that speed a little bit. That’s what you’re hoping they show up with. And manners are key.

“They accomplished everything I was looking for here. I was looking for around 2:09, 2:10 and everybody went there. They were all comfortable and did it well. That’s what you hope for.”

In recent years, the Connors’ top horse was Rules Of The Road, who finished second to Wild Honey in the 2015 Hambletonian Oaks. Last year, trotter Whats The Word had success on the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes circuit, but went off stride as the 9-5 favorite in the series championship. The stable also had a stakes winner in pacer Real Rayenbow.

“You could always have a better year, no matter how good it is,” Connor said, laughing. “You never win enough races and you never make enough money. You just hope you don’t have disappointments along the way, and last year we had a few disappointments. But we still had pretty good horses.

“You stay positive and hope everything works good and comes together. That’s why we’re here.”

by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

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