Cadet Marching Towards Horse of the Year Honors at the Spa

Stirling Cadet has been a consistent force ever since his racing career started in 2013. As a two year old competing out of the stable of local conditioner Paul Kelley, Stirling Cadet hit the board in six of his seven starts but didn’t find the winning way in a freshman season that was highlighted by a second place finish in an Excelsior Series start that took place at Saratoga Casino Hotel. At the conclusion of his two year old campaign, Kelley sold the young trotter to veteran horseman Harold Smith, a trainer based in Malone, NY who had immediate had success with him. Stirling Cadet broke his maiden in his second start under the guidance of Smith but went on to finish second in six of his first eight starts after his connection change. While he did secure the one win, it appeared that maybe, as many horses do, Stirling Cadet had a little bit of seconditis and while being productive, may not be the kind of horse who winds up in the winner’s circle too often.
Driver Jimmy Devaux piloted Stirling Cadet for Smith in every one of his starts early on in 2014 and the three year old trotter prevailed in two of his first three races in the month of June including one that came in a $12,600 Excelsior Series “A” race. It was starting to all come together for Stirling Cadet who was consistently using his incredible early speed for positioning and did almost all of his damage while on the front end or in the pocket. Smith regularly competes in the New York Fair Circuit during the summer with a host of young horses, most of which he breaks and trains himself and while Stirling Cadet didn’t fulfill all of those criteria, he was another Smith trainee who took to the road to compete at several different Fairs throughout the state. If the young trotter had been thriving in overnight races at the Spa in the spring, he would most certainly do damage at the Fairs in the summer, right? In a word, yes. Stirling Cadet went seven for seven in the Fairs leading up to the $10,000 Final which was contested at Monticello Raceway. Smith, who had piloted the young trotter throughout his dominant summer, handed the reins back to Devaux for the Final. Stirling Cadet not only completed the sweep of the Fair circuit but did so by way of a fifteen length victory, using his regular route of going wire-to-wire to secure the dominant score. Following a few week layoff, Stirling Cadet returned to Saratoga and again went coast to coast, this time against older horses.
After watching that start, longtime standardbred owner Wayne Kellogg called the paddock and presented Smith with an offer he couldn’t refuse. The Kellogg Racing Stable acquired Stirling Cadet for $40,000 from Smith and the up-and-coming highstepper moved to the barn of trainer Jackie Rousse. Wow, if Stirling Cadet was already thriving in his sophomore season, he would probably become dominant after moving to the stable of a multiple-time training champion at the Spa like Rousse, right? Well, no. At least not right away. The speedy trotter secured one win and three seconds in ten starts in ’14 after the purchase and while he was certainly respectable, he didn’t rise through the ranks as perhaps many may have predicted. Overall for the 2014 season, though, Stirling Cadet scored thirteen wins to go with ten second place finishes en route to just shy of $55,000 in earnings. It was certainly a breakout year for the young trotter but was nothing compared to what was to come in his near future.
The beginning of 2015 was much of the same for Stirling Cadet as he recorded just one win in the first four months of the racing season though he battled some stiff competition, even dabbling a bit in the local Open. It all started to click, though, last summer for Stirling Cadet who rediscovered his winning ways and prevailed a few times in the Winners Over before scoring a pair of victories in the $18,000 local Open. The then-four year old highstepper finished strong in his first full year under the guidance of Rousse and was a nominee for Trotter of the Year at Saratoga after tallying earnings of over $81,000 by way of seven wins while hitting the board in more than half of his starts in ’15.
While the 2015 season was strong for Stirling Cadet, his ’16 campaign has been simply sensational. Regularly driven by local Hall of Famer Frank Coppola Jr, Stirling Cadet has turned the corner from being a solid trotter to a superstar. After a win while competing in the conditional ranks in April, Stirling Cadet was propelled into the Open and hasn’t looked back. He won an Open at Vernon Downs and after competing at Yonkers a bit this spring, returned to the Spa in June to start an unprecedented streak. When Stirling Cadet won the Open on June 5th, it marked the first of what would be eleven consecutive starts on the board in the local feature. Following a second and two thirds, the trotting star again won the Open on July 3rd and from there, he has just kept winning. On Wednesday evening, the Rousse trainee prevailed for the third consecutive time in the local Open and for the sixth time since returning to town in June. What has really helped lead to the sensational stretch for the standout highstepper is that he has become a force while coming from off the pace. Previous to June, seemingly all of Stirling Cadet’s wins came in front-running fashion. While his early speed remains one of his biggest weapons, his ability to close has really made him a complete trotter and allowed for the consistent stretch that he is currently in the midst of, a stretch that has now lasted for three months. Though it is still a bit early to be handing out awards, Stirling Cadet is building a terrific case to become not only the Trotter of the Year at the Spa but also Horse of the Year. He now owns seven wins to go with two seconds and four thirds in his 14 local starts in ’16. Stirling Cadet is seeking to follow in the footsteps of fellow Rousse trainees Prime Interest and Lorenzo Dream as he looks to secure Horse of the Year honors at the Spa in what has been a sensational season thus far for the standout trotter who has really figured things out.
Live racing takes place on Tuesday through Saturday this week beginning each night at 7:05pm. At the conclusion of this week, racing will take a brief hiatus until resuming on September 15th. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!

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