Day At The Track

Early reviews positive for American Admiral

04:00 AM 20 Apr 2019 NZST
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Andrew Harris, harness racing
Trainer Andrew Harris will start American Admiral in the Bobby Weiss Series on Saturday.
USTA Mark Hall Photo

Trenton, NJ — American Admiral may not know it, but he is in the midst of trying to prove if he’s ready to fight some bigger harness racing battles down the road.

The 3-year-old colt pacer is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in a $15,000 division of Saturday’s (April 20) Bobby Weiss Series at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Since he has only been working with the horse since January, trainer Andrew Harris is unsure of how extensively he will stake him this year.

“We’re playing it by ear,” said Harris, who made American Admiral eligible for the Reynolds and Art Rooney Pace. “It all depends on how he continues to mature. If he goes through this series and shows he can go with those type of horses like Turbo Hill, then yeah, we’re going to go that route. As of right now we’re going to play it by ear. We don’t know what we’ve got, we don’t know what the bottom is yet. If he continues to improve maybe we’ve got ourselves a New York Sires Stakes horse that’s got some possibilities. Or maybe we just have an Excelsior Series type horse. We’re kind of using this series to tell us what we’ve got.”

The early reviews have been positive.

At the recommendation of Harris, American Admiral was purchased by the Flemings (William, Ian and James) for $34,000 at the Standardbred Mixed Sale at Harrisburg in November. He was trained by Tony Alagna last year and had a first, second and third while earning $19,890 in 10 starts.

Harris knew nothing about the horse, but thought he would provide the most bang for the buck among those up for sale.

“They called me up and said they wanted to have a nice little horse to race for next year,” the trainer said. “There were a lot of horses I thought we might have to over-pay for. This one kind of came in under the radar. I saw he raced at Yonkers and Yonkers is primarily where I race anyway so I thought he might just be in the price range. He ended up going a little cheaper than what I thought I’d have to give for him.”

As for what he liked about American Admiral, Harris said, “His breeding was impeccable. He wasn’t overly-sized but he was a little muscle horse and those are the types of horses I kind of like for Yonkers. I didn’t know what to expect. We just kind of got lucky. So far it’s all working out.”

It is indeed. American Admiral has hit the board four times in five races, having taken two firsts, a second and third for $19,640 in purse money.

After the purchase, Harris put the horse out in the field and never looked at him for six weeks.

“I didn’t even jog him,” he said. “I needed to let him grow up and let him mature. If he did have any aches and pains they would heal out in the field. I just let him get freshened up. We just started fresh and started off the chalkboard. We made adjustments to his training as he needed something, but we started with (knowing) nothing. We slowly added certain things here or there but I didn’t know what he had before. I never looked or asked.”

Harris brought the horse back on Jan. 1 and began working on him, and then eased him back into racing. He is fairly well behaved in the barn, but “He’s a little stud colt so he lets you know that he’s there. He’s not over rambunctious or anything like that but you have to watch him a little bit. He wants to play but his play is a little aggressive. He’s a nice horse, but you don’t want to get caught sleeping around him.”

He is keeping folks wide awake on the track as of late. As American Admiral’s confidence grew, Harris began putting him into play a bit more. The strategy seems to be working, as the horse has won his last two races.

“He’s just developing into kind of a nice little horse that I don’t know where his bottom is quite just yet,” he said. “I don’t have super high expectations for the horse but I think he’s going to be a nice little horse. He’s got a big engine and he wants to go. But you have to race him the right way.”

Just what way is that?

“We try to teach him to stay off the helmet a little bit until it’s time to press the go button,” Harris continued. “He’s just come to the point where we can use him now. He’s ready, he’s tight now. He wasn’t tight when we were starting. I brought him back a little bit slower than I usually do. Now his confidence is right and he looks like a totally different animal. He’s happy and strong.

“And every driver that sat on him likes him. George (Napolitano Jr.) sat on him the other night and said ‘Wow, can this thing fly for a piece.’ That’s the type of horse you want. He takes care of himself for the mile right now as long as we don’t over-drive him too early in the race. He’s got as good of a move as anyone in that series.”

Harris feels American Admiral is the best horse in his division in the Bobby Weiss, but knows that the final will be a different story.

“I think Sports Legend and Turbo Hill are the two horses to beat in the whole series,” Harris said. “We kind of got lucky, we avoided them this week, so it will be interesting to see how we face up against them.”

However it comes out will go a long way in determining where the American Admiral fleet ends up next.

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