Ducharme Back For Another Try at Hambletonian Glory
By Jay Bergman
Trainer George Ducharme knows that Wings Of Royalty is not the same horse as 2013 Hambletonian champion Royalty For Life. The affable conditioner nonetheless is rather pleased with the progress the son of R C Royalty has made entering the 90th edition of the Hambletonian Saturday at the Meadowlands.
“I’m very happy with the way he trained this week,” said Ducharme from his Vernon Downs base on Thursday.
“I thought he raced well in the Zweig (fourth place behind Pinkman),” said Ducharme. “After the race I talked to Tim (Tetrick) and we both agreed that he needed a race over the big track to get stretched out and acclimate to the speed of the race. He’d been racing so much over the half mile tracks.”
Royalty For Life will have Brian Sears in the bike in the second of two elimination heats on Saturday afternoon.
“I was very happy with the draw,” said Ducharme of post five in the nine-horse field.
Wings Of Royalty, a homebred of Raymond Campbell Jr., has earned $237,599 during his career racing primarily in New York. The colt prepped for the Hambletonian with a victory at Vernon Downs last Saturday coming from off the pace in 1:54 3/5.
“I think he’s as good as he’s ever been,” said Ducharme of Wings Of Royalty.
“I was happy with the division he got into. I think the first division is tougher but we do have Mission Brief and she’ll be tough if she behaves.”
Royalty For Life was a favorite going into the Hambletonian in 2013 and Wings Of Royalty is a decided longshot. But trainer George Ducharme wouldn’t have entered the colt had he not thought he belonged with this group. Wings Of Royalty has been quite consistent throughout his career and has the dual capacity to race near or from off the pace and still finish his miles with strength.
Without question having Hambletonian experience is a major factor in getting to the race again and succeeding. Both Ducharme and Sears have been here before which in a sense takes some of the pressure off. Wings Of Royalty is as good as he’s going to be, whether that’s good enough won’t be known until sometime late on Saturday afternoon.