Carlos Martin was on one end of the shank, a good looking dark bay gelding on the other on a quiet Monday morning in the barn area next to the far turn on the Saratoga Race Course main track.
A little more than a week earlier I'll Call, the gelding Martin had out for a graze, was one courtyard over in Graham Motion's shedrow. Martin claimed I'll Call for $62,500 for owner Matt Schera July 31, ran him back six days later, finished second to Motion's highly regarded Messi and started to plan ahead.
Martin, a lifelong horseman from a family of horsemen, might think about a $200,000 stakes at Presque Isle Downs for I'll Call. He's got plans for the other 14 horses in Barn 31 at Saratoga. Martin has a win, a second and two thirds from 11 starters heading into the fourth week of racing at Saratoga. He's active at the claim box and his string is a mix of claiming types, established allowance horses and 2-year-olds.
Martin went through some of the group of 15 at Saratoga and 14 at Belmont Park Monday morning with The Special's Tom Law, all while I'll Call grazed.
I'll Call: "He was second to probably a Grade 1 horse that Graham ran in there named Messi. Matt Schera is a guy who is active, he wants to be in the game. He wants to claim. He wants to run. We got out-shook a couple days in a row and said, 'you know what, this is a nice horse who is always right around and he's got good sheet numbers.' He likes to read the sheets. A lot of people that claim horses believe in those numbers. He was running 5s and 6s and Matt said, 'this is a nice horse for $62,500, if they put him in a horses of racing age sale I'd be paying 75 or 80 for this horse. For $62,500 let's take a chance. I don't know how good you're going to do but for $62,500 what's the worst that can happen? You can always run him for $50,000 a month from now out of jail and he'd be 6-5.' (Schera) liked the fact that the horse had three starts on synthetic, with one win and one second. There's a $200,000 stakes at Preque Isle, the Presque Isle Mile, that he was beat 2 lengths in last year. He ran second here, ran a 90 Beyer and now we'll see. Maybe I'll take a look at that race for $200,000."
Chromark: "He's a Noonmark 2-year-old who is out of a Pulpit mare. The dam, Sophie, is a full-sister to the sire of California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit). He galloped out of the gate this morning with Fernando Jara. He's probably going to run toward the end of the meet in a New York-bred maiden special. He's going to be a two-turn horse but we'll see if we can run him here before we leave. He's about three or four weeks away."
Steve's Image: "He's a 2-year-old colt by Ready's Image for Maggie Seidman. He's pretty much ready to run, seems like a forward type horse, he moves well on the turf and on the dirt. There's a maiden special 5 1/2 on the grass Aug. 17 that I'm going to point him for."
It's A Given: "He's a horse we claimed from Mr. (Bill) Mott. I'm picking all the Hall of Fame trainers. I'm putting myself up against the wall. We gave $75,000 for him the last week at Belmont. He's only run three times in his life. He was second on the grass first time going long with Johnny (Velazquez). He seems like a horse that will get better. Hopefully he can run maiden special weight here toward the end of the meet."
Madison Blues: "She's a filly for Mark Holliday, Blue Devil Racing, who had her first race here two weeks ago with Corey Lanerie. She was 59-1, had the lead right to the very end, right on the wire she got nailed a neck and a head and was third. She ran a 72 Beyer her first start as a 3-year-old. She had one start as a 2-year-old, sprinting, so it was a big effort after nine months going a mile. There's a mile, coming back on the 14th, that's a little quick. Mile-and-an-eighth on the 21st. She can do it."
Day Six: "We claimed him (for $35,000) from Barclay Tagg for Matt Schera. He's a useful horse, was beat a length at Belmont the last week and had a terrible trip. He's like a three lifetime who runs for $35,000, $50,000."
Rules To Win: "She's a nice 2-year-old by Freud out of an A.P. Indy mare. The second dam (Chercheuse, by Seeking The Gold) is the mother of Alabama winner Questing. She hopefully will make a start here toward the end of the meet. She's a few weeks away, too. I've got her for a new owner, young guy in the game named Joe Rallo. He played lacrosse at Notre Dame, got involved in the game a couple years ago, bought a couple Big Browns and this filly. Young guy, loves the game. He runs under Platinum Seven Racing Stable, him and his brother."
Kyness: "She's a 2-year-old filly we just got in from the breeder of Hansel, the guy who used to manage Newstead Farm, Marvin Little Jr. Nice man. He used to take care of all those champions for Woody Stephens back in the '70s, White Star Line and all those horses. He sent us her, she's a homebred filly by Congrats out of a Saarland mare. She had four half-mile works in South Carolina. Hopefully she might get a start here at the end of the meet. She looks like she's got some talent. Big, good-looking talent. Old-school horsemen, Marvin and his son Jeff."
Space Oddity: "He's a nice New York-bred who broke his maiden here last week, by Cosmonaut. Castellano rode. He's a horse I look forward to running at the end here in a non-winners of one. He just keeps getting better and better. Big, tall glass of water. The other day he put it all together, ran a mile in 35 and 3. Being by Cosmonaut, I love that. I bought him as a yearling for Mr. (Carl) Lizza. He turned out to be a hell of a horse."