Around every corner, tucked into a stall here and there and in barns across Nelson Avenue at the harness track are the horses trained, owned, bred and sometimes even ridden by the men and women whose names don’t get the headlines and full features in this or any publication.
They’re no less important though than the high-volume program trainers, since they fill races all year long, in Saratoga, downstate at Belmont Park and Aqueduct and elsewhere at tracks like Finger Lakes, Presque Isle Downs and Suffolk. They’re what we call The Little Guys and for the third year in a row they get top billing in this space.
Glenn DiSanto epitomized the Little Guy, breeding, owning and training his horses in New York. He appeared in our first two editions of The Little Guy Stable Tour. He passed away in January at 62 after a quiet and brave battle with cancer. His presence can still be felt in the Saratoga barn area, during the offseason and at the meet. To honor him in our small way we proudly present the Fasig-Tipton Glenn DiSanto Stable Tour with The Little Guys.
Bart Hone (Smokin Platinum): The New York-bred finished second in his debut here July 28 and returned in the Funny Cide Stakes Aug. 25. Assistant trainer Eddie Cruz spoke about the son of Mission Impazible. “We come from New Mexico, then we went to Iowa, then we came here. The boss is in New Mexico now. We came here because of our New York-bred, he was working good times, we worked him in company, he beat the horse from here to that tree. I told the boss, ‘You have a really nice horse.’ He ran second the first time, then we ran him the stakes, he got a little too nervous going to the holding barn, he was dragging me, then he didn’t run the way he did the first time. I thought we had a good chance in the stake.”
Melvin Winney (Claude’salleycat): The unraced 2-year-old son of Desert Party has trained here all meet, strolling from the harness track to the main track and the training track, with Winney following on his bicycle. “I was hoping to make the meet, but he got a little shin sore on me, then last week he got sick, spiked a temperature of 1:04 ½, the first one was early July, the shin soreness, I had to back off for three and a half weeks, I went the old-fashioned way with a working blister. Then late August, he got sick with whatever was floating around on the other side of the street, he happened to get it, another setback. I think I’ll have him ready by the end of this month to race at Belmont. He’s got a nice way of going, we’ll see what he’s made of anyway.”
Kerry Metivier (Francis Freud): Owned and trained by Metivier, the son of Freud cost $85,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred sale. “There are so many horses I like but he’s the barn favorite, he ran second here, beaten less than a hair (Aug. 10), we’ve been dying to run him back but it just hasn’t come together.”
Kerry Metivier (Harbor King): Owned by Youngs Racing, the 6-year-old New York-bred finished eighth here Aug. 24. “He’s been nothing but a moneymaker his whole life, ran here, we retired him sound. The owner said he’s gotten everything and more, excitement wise, he’s ready to relax and go in a second career. He’s such a cool guy, he doesn’t really want to retire, I put him on the trailer Friday, he looked back, he looked at me and I was like, ‘Come on, let’s go check the farm out.’ He wasn’t really sure about the whole thing, I bet by next week, he’ll be happy as hell, he’ll put this in his rearview and never look back. He’s been really fun to have in the barn.”
Kerry Metivier (Danielle’s Pride): A graduate of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga fall mixed sale in 2015, the daughter of Mission Impazible finished second here Aug. 7 and fourth in the Fleet Indian Aug. 25. “She jumped up in her second start and nearly won, we’re excited about her future, because she’s a young horse.”
Anthony Quartarolo (Forge): Claimed for $30,000 by Loooch Racing out of a dominant win against $30,000 maiden claimers Aug. 31. “I like him, it looks like it could have been a good claim. The owner and even myself have had bloodstock agents looking to buy him, he doesn’t want to sell him, he says, ‘I don’t sell horses, I buy them.’ He’s a great guy, he flew these veterans here (Saturday), he’s got limos picking them up, putting them up in hotels, taking them to the races, he says to me, ‘We wouldn’t even have a country if it wasn’t for the vets, wouldn’t have horse racing.’ He puts his money up.”
Ken Streicher (Inventor’s Gate): Veteran turfer finished 12th in Saturday’s fourth race. “I only got one. He’s a character, he begs for peppermints, sticks his tongue out, I’ve had him three years. He’s a funny type of horse, he can’t go to the front, he loves the rail, but he drew in Saturday. Ruben Sierra won on him, I said, ‘Stay on the rail, don’t come off the rail, if you get trapped, it’s my fault.’ He won going away by 5. He’s a turf horse so I gave him the winter off, ran him off the layoff, he ran fourth, had him in, rain, came off the turf, I scratched, ran him in a starter allowance, I said take him back and he’s in front by 5, then I had him back in, rains again, I scratch him, I ran him in a starter allowance going short, wasn’t his distance.”
Eddie Barker (Yorkiepoo Princess): Well, here’s the best horse to ever be featured in the Little Guy Stable Tour. The daughter of Kantharos won three stakes in a row this winter before losing four in a row. She aims at today’s Grade 2 Prioress for owner Danny Chen. “She’s had a couple of little setbacks but she’s really training awesome, she breezed here (Aug. 25), I caught her in a minute and two fifths, they caught her in 1:01. She loves it up here, she’s really training great, I’d be tickled pink if I could get her graded stakes placed. She swallowed a pound of clay in the Black Eyed Susan, it was all down in her trachea. I ran her on the grass up here, I’m out of conditions with her, I wouldn’t be shocked if she hits the board. She’s actually training better than she did in the winter time, she’s put on weight, she’s thrived up here. She’s made my year, they paid $8,000 for her, she’s given a lot of joy and excitement and joy to the owner, he’s a small owner, he’s had a ball with her. To win those kind of stakes, at that time of year, she met some good horses in the Busher, they were no flakes. It’s hard to keep a young horse in form and I think she’s back to her best now.”
Marialice Coffey (Flora Dora): Coffeepot Stables’ 4-year-old First Dude filly is a returnee to the Little Guys Stable Tour and in the hunt with Yorkiepoo Princess. A two-time stakes winner and third to Songbird in last year’s Coaching Club American Oaks, she scratched from last weekend’s Grade 1 Personal Ensign. “She got sick. Can you imagine? That’s the problem, when you have a horse like that and you don’t get to run them very often and it’s got to be right on that day, and the race passes us by. We missed a little bit of time, enough to cost us the race. She was sick that day so we’ve been taking our time. She’s getting antibiotics. We’ll find something in the fall. She runs long dirt, so there aren’t a lot of choices. End of September, end of October there are two spots so hopefully we’ll be ready by the end of September. She’s still here, and that’s a good thing.”
Robbie Davis (Dublin Green): Davis leads the massive 3-year-old by Dublin, looking happy and covered in dust and dirt after a roll on the ground, back with his string in Barn 4 at the harness track. He started once, finishing 10th in a New York-bred maiden at Aqueduct in April. “He was running off with me this winter so I had my son Eddie get on him. And he ran off with Eddie. He asked me what was going on, so I jogged him four days the wrong way because I know he’s going to take off. Then I started breezing him halfs, going slow, and he figured it out and took off. One time I breezed him he was being real tough, didn’t want to slow down so we got the wire I said, ‘let’s go buddy.’ He took off again. I finally started to get him pulled up, he picks his head up, sees the half-mile pole again and takes off again. I didn’t get him stopped. The clockers came out and said they’d never seen anything like it. I told them, ‘I can’t hold him.’ They asked what time I wanted, that the first time he went around he went in 46 and 2 and the second time in 50 and 3. I’ve never seen anything like it. He twisted his ankle in May so I gave him a little time off. He’s soft, big soft sucker. I gave him a month off, he was good, no chips, no tears, just a little strained.”
Robbie Davis (Jumpinjack): A $14,500 buy as a yearling at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga October mixed sale, New York-bred by Court Vision didn’t draw in off the also-eligible list in Friday’s 11th race. “I’m glad he didn’t get in the last race. He was first on the AEs. He’s a turf horse, doing pretty good and we’re looking to run him on the turf again if we can get in. The maiden New York-breds are so full.”
Robbie Davis (Ribbonite): The big horse in the string, she won the $116,775 Lady Finger Stakes last fall at Finger Lakes. Winless in four tries this year, she finished 12th in state-bred allowance Opening Day. “She had a little setback, she injured herself a little bit. She might have done it last year. We didn’t X-ray her to find out but we ran her a couple races this year and she wasn’t herself. She had some stuff done to her knee. We’re bringing her back but she’s on the shelf. She’s got like 90 days off. We did some orthroscopic on the knees; it was an undisplaced chip, but it was bugging her. Two out of 5 lame when she came back so we said let’s take care of her. Solid little filly.”
Robbie Davis (Splash Of Sass): Owned by Davis and Paddock Proud, 5-year-old Langfuhr mare is 2-for-22 with two seconds and four thirds. “She’s working on $90,000 for us. We have trouble getting races to go; it’s every six weeks so I have to train, train, train. The book isn’t too fair to her. It’s a never-won-three $35,000, seven-eighths. A mile is a little too long, 6 1/2 is too short, she always gallops out in front. She’s doing really well.”
Robbie Davis (Stunning Beauty): A $1,000 buy at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga October mixed sale, 2-year-old filly is by Get Stormy out of winning A.P. Indy mare A. P. Amazon. “She’s got a real nice future. She’s a good mover and I really like her. She might be my best one. She was on NYRA’s Facebook page galloping on Clare Court the other day. She’ll probably be this fall. I haven’t pushed her real hard. Most likely turf. Fantastic mover, she moves so good. Jaqueline got on her and said, ‘Dad, I think this is going to be your best one.’ Get Stormy is throwing runners.”
Peter Pugh (Burkie): The New York-bred 2-year-old colt, an $18,000 purchase at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic’s 2-year-old sale in May, finished fourth here Aug. 16 for owner Wendy Hendriks and is on the also-eligible list for today’s 11th race. Son of Shanghai Bobby is named for famed show rider Bobby Burke, who died this spring. “This colt ran well the first time. I’ve never seen a horse in behind horses like he was down the lane. Nice type, he’ll be OK. I hope he gets in because he’s doing well. I think he’s OK in the mud too.”
Peter Pugh (Fairy Link): Another 2-year-old for Hendriks, the Data Link filly finished seventh here Aug. 11 and is in Monday’s fifth race. Pugh likes the idea of stretching out to 1 1/16 miles. “She ran once going 5 1/2 on the turf and got stuffed on the turn really bad and made another little rally and got beat 6 lengths. She did that well enough to make you think she’ll be OK too.”
Peter Pugh (Buntline Special): Three-year-old gelding owned by Margaret Duprey’s Cherry Knoll Farm has yet to start, but has been working steadily on the Oklahoma training track here. The Ohio-bred son of Tale Of The Cat is ready to run. “I put him in for Monday and the race didn’t go. The Buntline Special was the pistol that Wyatt Earp carried, a long-barreled pistol, and Margaret was going with a western theme since he’s out of a Carson City mare.”
John Morrison (Carrera Cat): Two-year-old filly finished fourth behind future stakes winner March X Press here Aug. 2. New York-bred daughter of Courageous Cat is called “All Business” and “Where Fun Comes to Die” around the barn – in a good way. Let exercise rider Laura “Tils” Tilbury tell it: “Her owner’s daughter went to law school at the University of Chicago and the motto of the law school is ‘where fun comes to die.’ That should be her motto because she wants to have absolutely no fun at all. She wants to go to the track and train, she’s not a bucker or a player. She’s difficult first thing in the morning but as soon as you get the tack on and go to the track she’s the best. She doesn’t like anything but eating and training.” Morrison agreed, and thinks there’s some potential in filly owned by Stone Bridge Farm and Very Un Stable. “I think she’ll be more than OK. It looked like she got in a lot of trouble in her first start. Donna Freyer had her in Camden and did a real good job with her.”
John Morrison (Kitty Maddnes): Very Un Stable’s 4-year-old filly is nothing like her younger full-sister and will “have a little fun,” according to Tilbury. Morrison sent her out to a maiden win in 2015 and a $40,000 claiming score in June at Belmont Park. She finished third here, at 33-1, in a New York-bred turf allowance Aug. 24. “Her main problem is she didn’t grow from 2 to 3. Now she’s growing again and catching up. We’ll look for a spot for her at Belmont.”
John Morrison (Pas de Deuce): Stone Bridge’s New York-bred 2-year-old filly is by Curlin out of Acey Deucey, who won the Grade 1 Prioress and Grade 2 Comely for Morrison. “This is the first Acey Deucey that I’ve gotten to train and I like her. She’ll be a (good) 3-year-old. There’s a lot of horse there.”