Indiana will be well represented at the Breeders Crown Saturday, Oct. 29 as Ponda Warrior will step onto the track for the $675,000 Three-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Pace. The race, slated as the seventh on the card, will have an estimated post time of 9:47 p.m.
Trained by Jay Hochstetler, Ponda Warrior has drawn post eight in the 10-horse final. Scott Zeron is set to drive after finishing third in last week’s elimination to advance to the final. After sitting last early in the race, Zeron moved Ponda Warrior to the outside before the three-quarter mile marker and the Rockin Image colt took off, passing horses with every stride to finish on the board. The sophomore pacer turned in a final panel of :26.0 and paced his mile in 1:49.3. Pebble Beach and Trevor McCarthy won the race in 1:48.3.
Ponda Warrior is owned by Jay Hochstetler, Finkelberg Racing LLC of Jackson Miss., and South of the Tracks Rac. of Brimfield, Ill. This will mark the first starter in the Breeders Crown for Hochstetler, who was in attendance for the draw in Canada Tuesday evening. Hochstetler, the son of Homer and Connie Hochstetler, grew up in Chicago and graduated from the University of Kentucky before getting into harness racing full time.
Ponda Warrior goes into the Breeders Crown final with four wins this year, the quickest taken at Harrah’s Hoosier Park in May in a time of 1:49.1. He had a solid two-year-old season, winning three of nine starts with a best time of 1:51.3 taken in a qualifier. To date, he has seven wins in 23 starts with more than $350,000 in earnings. His fastest race time this year was 1:48.3 at Harrah’s Hoosier Park in early July.
Ponda Warrior is out of the mare Sweetnsinful, who took a mark of 1:50.4 during her career and made nearly $400,000. She had a yearling just sell at the Hoosier Classic Yearling sale named Ponda Pete, by Freaky Feet Pete, that was purchased by Rocco Ruffolo of Chicago for $92,000. Ponda Warrior was purchased from the Hoosier Classic Yearling Sale for $37,000 in the fall of 2020. Pond-A-Acres bred and raised both colts.
Breeders Crown action gets underway Friday, Oct. 28 with the finals for two-year-olds. The Saturday program begins at 7 p.m. to feature the remainder of the divisions of the prestigious event. The Breeders Crown next year will return to Harrah’s Hoosier Park for the third time since 2017.