Owner Sam Stathis and trainer Susanne Strandqvist took their time with Celebrity Maserati last year. And the colt trotter is paying them back quickly this season.
Celebrity Maserati made it two-for-two this year by winning Saturday’s $139,600 Dexter Cup for three-year-old trotters by two and a quarter lengths over favourite Dontyouforgetit in 1:58.3 at Freehold Raceway. Stathis’ Celebrity Stimulus was third.
The Dexter Cup kicks off the road to August’s $1.2 million Hambletonian Stakes at the Meadowlands. Celebrity Maserati and Dontyouforgetit both are eligible to the Hambletonian.
Driven by Tom Jackson, Celebrity Maserati started from post four and got the lead around the first turn as Dontyouforgetit worked his way from post seven toward the front. Dontyouforgetit, with Yannick Gingras in the sulky, got to the top as the field reached the first quarter in :28.2 and held the advantage until the final turn, when Celebrity Maserati moved to the outside and trotted to the victory.
Celebrity Maserati paid $6 to win as the 2-1 second choice.
“I got a great trip and they didn’t come home much, but he’s just an exceptional colt; he really is,” Jackson said. “He can go much, much faster than what he’s shown so far. I’d have liked to cut the mile with him, but [Dontyouforgetit] is a good horse and showed some quality lines as a two-year-old, so I figured he was OK to follow if I had to.
“When I had room he just trotted on by in hand. The only thing I was worried about was whether I was going to get room soon enough.”
Celebrity Maserati is a son of stallion Andover Hall out of the multiple stakes winning mare Arlanda Hanover. He is a full brother to Orlando, who was second to Not Nice in the 2010 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship for two-year-old male trotters. His family also includes 2000 Dexter Cup winner Armbro Trick. Celebrity Maserati was purchased under the name Meridian for $45,000 at the 2011 Standardbred Horse Sale.
“I’m still shaking,” said Stathis, who operates Celebrity Farms. “I knew he had it, but when you know it you’ve still got to show it. He put it all together. When he was coming home Tommy didn’t even touch him. I was so excited; I knew we had it.”
Last year, Celebrity Maserati was winless in six starts, but hit the board five times and earned $14,335. After his win in the Dexter Cup, the black colt pushed his lifetime earnings to $90,135.
“He was very good last year,” Stathis said. “We didn’t push the horse; he was growing, so we took it real easy. Thank God we were patient. We’re looking for the Hambletonian.”
After a momentary pause, he added with a laugh, “And since he doesn’t mind the half, it wouldn’t be bad to have the Yonkers Trot either.”
Stathis was joined in the winner’s circle by his father, Chris.
“Tomorrow is Greek Orthodox Easter, so we’re ecstatic,” Stathis said. “It’s like a gift from above to have a horse like this. I’ve had good ones before; I feel this one is real special.”