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Jeff Lilley’s colt Bettim Again is now the fastest two-year-old in Atlantic Canadian harness racing history.
The George Rennison trainee scorched Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park on Saturday afternoon, winning his P.E.I. Colt Stakes two-year-old pacing colt division in 1:54.1 in line to Gilles Barrieau to lower the former rookie record of 1:55.1, held by Woodmere Stealdeal, by a full second.
Lilley co-owns the son of Malicious-Bettim Laura with Blair MacLauchlan of Charlottetown and Christina Lecky of Summerside along with co-owner Ian MacDonald of Lower Sackville, N.S.
Lilley, 57, firmly believes some things are just meant to be and judging by Bettim Again’s beginnings he is right on the mark.
In the spring of 2017 Lilley decided to breed his mare Bettim Laura to Hampshire stallion Malicious. Lilley, a resident of Miltonvale Park, went to Windemere Farms in Hampshire to pick up the semen, got a glove and an inseminating tube while he was there, and headed to Ardoise, N.S., where Bettim Laura lives at Sam and Lynn McLean’s farm. Lilley arrived in Nova Scotia without being able to secure someone to breed the mare, so he took to the phone and got instructions on how to do it himself.
“First time I ever inseminated a horse and the result was Bettim Again.”
Lilley gives a great deal of the credit to Bettim Laura as her family is full of stakes winners.
“That dam line, I think you could breed to a Jersey cow and you would be off to the races,” Lilley said while pointing out granddam Bettim Amanda is the fastest daughter of Justice Denied while sister Bettim Jackie is the fastest and richest Andreoli Hanover. “You have to be lucky in this business. The whole business is built on hope.”
Lilley tries to breed to a sire that matches up to his mare with a common ancestor from either the sire’s dam or sire.
“Bob Webster always said, ‘Top, bottom it doesn’t matter. If it’s there it will show up’.”
Bettim Again was sent to Rennison to be broke in the fall of 2019 and began his racing career with a third-place finish in the Atlantic Sires Stakes in July in Summerside. The colt was scratched his next start then finished seventh in Summerside with the team later finding out the horse was badly tying up.
“In hindsight, it was a blessing in disguise,” Lilley said of the horse missing a month in the middle of the season.
With the tie-up problem rectified, Bettim Again stepped up to finish second in Woodmere Stealdeal’s 1:55.1 record mile in Charlottetown, then set the track record in Truro Raceway the next week with a new 1:56 two-year-old pacing standard in a $1,125 maiden event.
The P.E.I. Colt stakes race was next with his 1:54.1 record and now the horse goes to Northside Downs in North Sydney, N.S., on Saturday to face Woodmere Stealdeal again in a $10,540 Nova Scotia stake division.
“I had a pretty good mare and I had a pretty good stud so it just all came together real early in his career,” Lilly said. “It was the big fella upstairs. Good horses are born, not made, I learned that a long time ago.”
Bettim Laura has a Tobago Cays filly named U Bettim Owe Cay currently by her side and the mare currently is not in foal. But will Lilley breed Bettim Laura back to Malicious in 2021 in hopes of another Bettim Again?
“I’m a typical male and men like to keep their options open,” Lilley laughed. “But, yes it is the most likely scenario.”
Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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