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Heitmann has double threat in Dexter Cup elimination

Thursday, April 26, 2018  By: Ken Weingartner

Hightstown, NJ --- Joie De Vie Farm and trainer Hermann Heitmann enter this year with three trotters eligible to August’s $1.2 million Hambletonian Stakes, and two of their hopefuls will be in action Saturday (April 28) in the $44,600 Dexter Cup elimination at Freehold Raceway.

The Dexter Cup is the season’s first stakes race on the road to the Hambletonian, which is harness racing’s premier event for 3-year-old trotters. A total of 11 horses entered the Dexter Cup, one shy of the number necessary to divide the group into two elimination divisions. Therefore, three horses -- Don, Maxus and Perlucky -- received byes based on career earnings and advanced directly to the May 5 final at Freehold.


Joie De Vie Farm’s Chucky De Vie and Vic’s Winner are among the eight horses that will compete Saturday for the remaining five spots in the Dexter Cup final. Completing the elimination field are Lindy’s Big Bang, Dont Press Send, Swedish-bred Midnight Express, Credicone, Thrust Control, and On The Ropes.

Chucky De Vie, Don, Dont Press Send, Maxus, Thrust Control, and Vic’s Winner are eligible to the Hambletonian.

In addition to Chucky De Vie and Vic’s Winner, Joie De Vie Farm’s No Drama De Vie is eligible to the Hambletonian.

“Hopefully one is going to make it,” said Heitmann, who is in his second stint as the trainer for Joie De Vie Farm, which is owned by 89-year-old Antoinette Nigito. “(No Drama De Vie) hasn’t qualified yet. He’s a little bit behind. Chucky had some problems last year, but I think he’s going to be all right this year. I was impressed with (Vic’s Winner) last year. I raced him twice and he won both times and he’s off to a good start this year, too.”

Vic’s Winner, co-owned by Joie De Vie Farm and Winbak Farm, was winless in his first two career starts, but capped his 2017 campaign with back-to-back victories with Heitmann, who trained for Joie De Vie in the late 1990s and returned in August. This year, the son of Credit Winner-Victors Vicky has a second in a division of the Bobby Weiss Series and a first-place finish in a conditioned race. He has earned $19,100 lifetime.


Chucky De Vie won two of 12 races last year and earned $40,876 while competing primarily on the Maryland circuit for co-owners Joie De Vie Farm and Paul Nigito. He has started once this year, going off stride April 20 at Freehold and finishing last.

“He’s good gaited on a (half-mile track) usually; I’m surprised he made a break last week,” Heitmann said. “He had little problems, but I’m pretty sure we straightened it out.

“He’s not that big, but he’s strong. I just hope he behaves himself.”

If a name counts for anything, Chucky De Vie might have a little something going for him. The son of Charlie De Vie-Bliss is named in honor of trainer Chuck Sylvester, who has won the Hambletonian on four occasions. Heitmann -- who trained harness racing’s richest horse, Foiled Again, during the early portion of the horse’s career -- also worked for Sylvester for six years.

But, of course, the first order of business is the Dexter Cup. Lindy’s Big Bang, from the stable of trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite. Vic’s Winner is the 7-2 second choice.

“I think my horses fit very well,” Heitmann said. “Not too many horses in there have raced on a half yet. I think they will be competitive. We drew relatively good; (posts) four and five, I cannot complain. We should be all right. Both can leave the gate, we just haven’t done it yet this year.

“We just have to be lucky.”

For the complete field for the Dexter Cup elimination, click here. Racing begins at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) at Freehold and the Dexter Cup elim is race No. 9 on the 11-race card.


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