by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager
Hightstown, NJ — As driver Peter Wrenn walked to the Red Mile winner’s circle alongside Chin Chin Hall after their victory in a division of last week’s Bluegrass Stakes for 2-year-old male trotters, he wore a big smile while rubbing and patting the horse’s side, followed by several fist pumps. Patience and faith had been rewarded.
Making only his second career start, and first in more than two months, Chin Chin Hall got his first victory by defeating a field that included five trotters with Grand Circuit or state-restricted stakes triumphs to their credit. Chin Chin Hall, a three-quarter brother to award-winning Cantab Hall, won by 1-1/2 lengths over Hudson River in 1:55.4 over a surface labeled “good.” The time was one-fifth of a second off the night’s fastest trotting mile.
“A few of those horses (in Chin Chin Hall’s race) had been there and done it,” Wrenn said. “As a group we decided to see where he was at and put him in there. We thought he could trot along there and not get embarrassed.
“He wasn’t even stressed afterward. He came out of the race great. That was exciting for everybody involved. To come out of the woods with a maiden trotter in September and win on the Grand Circuit, that’s pretty fun.”
Chin Chin Hall is trained by Wrenn’s wife, Melanie, and owned by David McDuffee and Gene Oldford Farms. The horse, a son of Cash Hall out of Canland Hall, was purchased for $50,000 at the Ohio Selected Jug Sale.
In addition to Cantab Hall, who received the Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old male trotter in 2003, Chin Chin Hall is a half-brother to Ontario Sire Stakes winners Constance Hall and Campbell Hall. The family also includes Dan Patch Award winner Cameron Hall and Hall of Fame broodmare Amour Angus.
“The last couple years we’ve been buying in Ohio,” Wrenn said. “Mr. McDuffee wanted to feel the waters out a little bit in Ohio. Mr. Oldford has been a client of mine for a long time and he’s always interested in buying a yearling or two at the sale. We combined those two guys and picked (Chin Chin Hall).
“We liked that maternal family; that’s a great family. We were looking for a sire stakes-type colt that may be competitive somewhere and we took a chance. If you get one that tries out of (that family) you’ve usually got a pretty good chance of doing something.”
Chin Chin Hall won two qualifiers before making his debut in a maiden race for 2-year-olds on July 14 at Hoosier Park. He went off stride in the stretch while second to eventual winner Woodside Charm.
“He trained like a nice horse most of the winter,” Wrenn said. “When he got up north, he kind of lost his gait for a while, but he got it back, just as babies will do. He wasn’t quite ready to qualify early so we waited a bit. We qualified him twice and I put him in an overnight and he knuckled over in the stretch. He was a little weak behind and made a break. We gave him time and he’s come back good ever since that little break.”
The goal was to have Chin Chin Hall ready for the Kentucky Sire Stakes, which began in mid-August, but the horse required more time to mature.
“He’s a growthy colt,” Wrenn said. “He grew a lot over the winter and he’s still growing. He’s getting it together again. He needs to race. He needs some good confidence builders at race speed. He always could go enough. I qualified him a week before the (Bluegrass) and he qualified like a nice horse. It was a bad day here — rain, deep mud — and he qualified like the horse we were hoping.
“We have patient owners. It worked out well. Sometimes good owners make good horses. They’re both great guys. They’ve been in the game, they understand it, and that goes a long way.”
Next for Chin Chin Hall is Thursday’s International Stallion Stakes for 2-year-old male trotters at Red Mile, where he will compete in the first of three divisions.
He is also eligible to the Breeders Crown and Valley Victory Stakes.
“(The Breeders Crown) wasn’t on the radar two months ago, but as of last Thursday it’s been on the radar,” Wrenn said. “We’ll let him tell the story. You’d hate to have him spotlighted and disappoint everybody. I don’t think he will because he usually puts in a good effort. That mile last week did him a wonder of good. We’ll know a lot more Thursday evening, whether he’s the real deal or what direction he might go.
“But he’s been a nice colt, a fun colt to be around. He’s got his quirks, but he craves work, which I like, and he never misses a meal, which is another thing I like. He’s got some good characteristics to him. The end of the mile seems to be his deal. We’ll see where he’s at.
“It’s a lot of fun. I’ve been here before, where you see it, you hope everything is good, and the next week you say, darn it, he’s not as good as we thought. You hate to talk. But I’d take a whole barn like him, that’s for sure.”
- Cantab Fashion, Green Manalishi S face off in International Stallion Stakes (Tuesday, October 02, 2018)
Both winners in Bluegrass splits last week, Cantab Fashion and Green Manalishi S put their win streaks on the line when they compete in the third of three divisions for the $275,600 Trixton International Stallion Stakes, sponsored by the Trixton Syndicate, for 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters on Thursday (Oct. 4) at The Red Mile.