When trainer Bruce Saunders last sent a horse postward in the Breeders Crown, he took home a crystal trophy with 3-year-old pacing colt Rock N Roll Heaven. That was back in 2010 when the Crown races were first held at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
This year he returns to Pocono and the Breeders Crown with 2-year-old pacing colt Mangogh, a $63,000 yearling purchase (under the name Critical Artist) for M And L of Delaware and New York City-based M & M Harness Racing. He is from the family of three-time Breeders Crown winner My Little Dragon.
“We went to Harrisburg looking to buy him,” explained Doug Paul of M And L of Delaware. “He comes from a good family and we have had several of them and he was a good looking colt. He has exceeded our expectations.”
Mangogh, a son of Western Ideal from the Real Artist mare My Little Artist, has posted a 10-4-2-2 summary this year. He took his 1:50.3 lifetime mark in his most recent start at Lexington’s Red Mile in the International Stallion Stakes. He also posted wins in the Reynolds Stakes and Liberty Bell, as well as a solid second-place effort in the Bluegrass. His bankroll stands at $117,980.
“He certainly had ability from the start,” said Saunders, who has trained the winners of more than $30 million in purses. “He always wanted to grab the bit and go on from the first time we trained him, but he has really matured. We have made some slight changes -- we want them to go as free and easy as possible -- and we have been able to lower his head, let him be more comfortable as he has learned his ways.”
Mangogh missed the board in his first two starts before running off a string of eight straight finishes of third or better. Saunders credits his drivers.
“As a trainer you want to have the same driver on a colt week in and week out, but that doesn’t always happen,” he said. “They have other clients who may have more horses. I get that. But Timmy (Tetrick) has been a huge help with his input. I have to credit some of his other drivers, Andrew McCarthy and Eric Carlson, their input is helpful.”
Mangogh has the rail in race five, the first of three $25,000 Breeders Crown eliminations for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings Friday. McCarthy is scheduled to drive. First race post at Pocono is 7 p.m. (EDT) with Mangogh’s elim scheduled for 8:12 p.m.
The top-three finishers from each freshman colt pace elimination will advance to the $600,000 final on Saturday (Oct. 27). The draw is scheduled to take place live after race 12 on Friday. Elimination winners, in an order by lot, draw for posts one-five.
Mangogh is 5-1 on the morning line. De Los Cielos Deo, the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final runner-up, is the 2-1 favorite. Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champ Proof is the 5-2 choice in the second elimination and Workin Ona Mystery, unbeaten in five races, is the 5-2 pick in the third.
For the night’s complete entries, click here.