By Ken Weingartner, USTA — When it comes to his style on the racetrack, Trendy Teen is with it.
A 4-year-old gelding, Trendy Teen has jumped up to Grand Circuit action this season and held his own in the first two rounds of the Graduate Pacing Series, putting himself in position to reach the July 8 final with another strong performance this Saturday at The Meadowlands.
Last week at The Big M, the Per Engblom-trainee faced some traffic trouble in the stretch but finished third in his Graduate division, which was won by Stonebridge Helios in 1:47 — the fastest mile of the season by a 4-year-old.
On June 3 at Woodbine Mohawk Park, Trendy Teen was fourth in his Graduate division, beaten by less than two lengths as he came his final quarter in :26.
“He’s been good,” Engblom said. “We really liked him last year, but we thought it might be a stretch for him to compete at this level. It turns out it was not a stretch. He’s proved to us that he belongs there. The last start, he paced (1):48 flat and (driver Jason Bartlett) had to check him pretty hard in the stretch. If he doesn’t have that, he probably paces (1):47-and-a-piece. He’s earned his way.”
Trendy Teen, owned by Morrison Racing Stables, has been in Engblom’s barn for 11 months. Last season, the son of Always B Miki-Posey Tina made 12 starts for Engblom, all in conditioned races, and posted seven wins while never finishing worse than second.
He hit the board in his first five starts this year, winning one. After failing to advance from his May 14 elimination to the final of the Charles Juravinski Memorial Cup at Flamboro Downs, he tackled the Grand Circuit in the Graduate Series.
“He can take air, but he’s a little horse, not very impressive to look at,” Engblom said. “But his mindset is great. He’s very handy in a race, never wastes any energy.”
The final preliminary round of the Graduate Series, which is restricted to 4-year-olds, is Saturday. Trendy Teen will enter the night tied for seventh in points in the series as he looks to advance to the 10-horse final.
Trendy Teen is in the second of two $50,000 Graduate divisions and will start from post three with driver Brian Sears. He is 9-2 on the morning line.
The nine-horse field includes series points-leader Dreamfair Arnie B, second-place Captain Cowboy, sixth-place Energetic Hanover, co-seventh I Did It Myway, and ninth-place Rocks Shining Star. Dreamfair Arnie B, who starts from post seven with Todd McCarthy driving for trainer Brett Pelling, is the 2-1 favorite.
“If (Trendy Teen) can do something similar to what he did last week, I think we can get enough points to make the final,” Engblom said. “It’s always tough in that class. It’s supposed to be. But I think he belongs.”
The Graduate Series will be Trendy Teen’s only Grand Circuit action of the year, but with continued development, he might get more opportunities in the future.
“We just staked him to the 4-year-old races,” Engblom said. “We’ll try to build him up during the year and hopefully next year he can take a step up to the free-for-allers.”
The first division of the Graduate features last week’s two winners, Stonebridge Helios and Mad Max Hanover. Those two horses and rival Coldcreekqueso are in the top five in the standings. The first division also includes the horses in spots 10 through 12: Pleaseletmeknow, Early Action and Birthday.
Stonebridge Helios, who starts from post seven with Dexter Dunn driving for Ake Svanstedt, is the 7-5 favorite. Mad Max Hanover, leaving from post five with Tim Tetrick in the sulky for Jake Leamon, is 8-5.
Saturday’s card also features one $75,000 division of the Graduate Trotting Series and the $40,000 third leg of the Miss Versatility Series for older female trotters.
With Graduate trotting leader Jiggy Jog S sitting out this week, Cool Papa Bell is the 3-1 favorite in the final preliminary round. In the Miss Versatility, which has six preliminary events, 2022 Hambletonian Oaks winner Fashion Schooner is the 5-2 choice.