N.A. entry for ex-Wing

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

Ex-NHLer Paul Ysebaert speaks in hockey terms when asked for a scouting report on IZee, the standardbred named in his honour.

"He's so steady it's ridiculous," the one-time Detroit Red Wings speedster said last night. "He's like one of those guys who scores three goals and isn't even breathing hard.

"He's like that extremely talented player who can't wait for the game to end so he and the boys can get to the bar."

In other words, skill isn't the problem. Maintaining focus, well, that's a different story.

"If he would just concentrate on the final one-eighth instead of on all those fillies in the barn, well, he might have a few more victories," Ysebaert said with a chuckle.

Not that IZee (pronounced Eyezee), the three-year-old colt co-owned by Ysebaert, has been a flop. Far from it.

In fact, IZee has finished in the top three in 10 of 11 outings entering tonight's elimination races at Woodbine, competitions that will determine the field for the North America Cup final on June 18.

IZee, whose record includes five wins, will start from the rail in the first of three elimination races and is listed as the third choice at 7-2. Veteran driver Chris Christoforou will be in the sulky.

The 8-5 morning line favourite is Village Jolt, last year's two year-old divisional champion in both Canada and the United States. The second choice at 5-2 is Runover Feeling, who last weekend won a division of the Burlington Stakes, the final prep for the NA Cup.

The top three finishers from each elimination race, plus one fourth place finisher, drawn by lot, will advance to the $1.5 million North America Cup.

Ysebaert was playing with the Red Wings back in 1990 when he was wooed into the world of standardbred ownership after accepting an invite to visit the farm of high-profile trainer Bob McIntosh. His standardbred partners over the years included former teammates Bob Probert,Steve Chiasson and ex-Detroit Lions linebacker Chris Spielman.

While the horse's name was selected by Bob McIntosh's wife, Patty, IZee fever certainly is alive and well in southwestern Ontario, where Ysebaert lives for half of the year.

"My three nephews -- my brother's kids -- are all nicknamed IZee," Ysebaert said. "In fact, they all have that name on their license plates."

Now all that remains for Ysebaert is to see the name IZee listed as the winner of the North America Cup.

Stay tuned, hockey -- make that standardbred -- fans.


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