by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager
Trevor Smith thought highly of The Mighty Hill even before the 4-year-old male trotter joined his father’s stable earlier this year. The gelding’s performances in three starts since then have only solidified Smith’s opinion.
The Mighty Hill, who was Ohio’s champion 2-year-old male trotter in 2021, has posted two wins and a second at Miami Valley Raceway since owner Bet The House purchased the horse Feb. 11 and returned him to the Buckeye State after stints in New York and Pennsylvania.
In his first start at Miami Valley for trainer Jeff Smith and driver Trevor Smith, The Mighty Hill won a conditioned race in 1:53, establishing the track record for a 4-year-old gelding trotter. So far this season, only one trotter has gone faster on any five-eighths-mile track.
The Mighty Hill followed that performance with a second-place finish in the Open Handicap before rallying from third at the top of the stretch to win last week’s Open by three-quarters of a length in 1:54.
“He’s been very impressive,” Trevor Smith said. “He’s such a nice horse to be around, and on the track he’s such a nice horse. He’s got a great gait and is such a quick horse, a handy horse. You can do anything you want with him. If you want to leave, you can leave. If you want to back him off the gate and come from behind, you can do that as well.
“He doesn’t have any bad traits. When he’s on the track, his mind is on racing and that’s it. I think that’s his best quality. He loves to do it. He loves to be out there. He’s just a good-feeling horse. Even when you jog him, he’s never going to be one of those that would try to pull you off the track. He’d stay out there all day. Anything you ask him to do, he’s right there in the snap of a finger.”
The Mighty Hill, a son of What The Hill-Maxine The Mighty, began his career with trainer Chris Beaver. As a 2-year-old, he won the Ohio Sire Stakes championship with a world-record effort at Northfield Park and closed his campaign with a fourth-place finish in the Mohawk Million.
Last season, health issues prevented The Mighty Hill from finding his rhythm and he was limited to one win. This year, though, is off to a hopeful beginning with six on-the-board finishes, including four victories, in seven races.
“When we got him, I had been familiar with him through his 2-year-old and 3-year-old years in Ohio,” Smith said. “I drove him a few starts for Chris Beaver, and I absolutely loved the horse. He had high speed.
“Dad made a couple changes to him when he got him. Him and dad fit like a glove. When he trained him, dad said he loved the horse. We were in a little bit of a tough field the first start and he surprised us. I think I was more surprised than dad because he’s been around a while and he kind of knew what he had when he trained him.”
The Mighty Hill, who has won 10 of 30 career races and earned $358,005, returns to action Wednesday in the $30,000 Open Handicap at Miami Valley. He will start from post five and is the 7-2 second choice behind 3-1 morning-line favorite Combs Hanover from the stable of Ron Burke.
“We’ve been able to train him and race him week to week,” Smith said. “I think maybe that’s the biggest difference, that he’s a little sounder now than he was. I think dad has done a great job with him. Right when we got him, he kind of fit right into the schedule of how they do things.
“The potential is there. That makes it exciting. Who knows, maybe he just gets better with age. His quickness for a trotter is unmatched, I think, especially on a smaller track. With his quickness, he can outfoot a lot of horses without you even having to move the lines. When you pull him, he’s gone.”