Trainer David Donk would never call himself a technology guy and reluctantly accepted an iPad as a gift from his wife Faye a few years ago. He owned a laptop and an iPhone, what did he need with another gadget?
Now, it’s a big part of his job and a fairly constant way to access the facts about his growing stable of horses.
“I really use it,” he said while sitting down with The Special’s Joe Clancy Saturday morning. “It seems like you need to be able to get the information more often now and this is the way to do it.”
Donk has most of Barn 30 near the three-eighths pole on the main track and a mix of shapes, sizes, ages and pedigrees, plus another squad at Belmont Park.
When one is a recent millionaire with eight stakes wins, however, there’s only one place to start.
King Kreesa: “I’ve said all along, it’s a phenomenal (New York-bred turf) division with Kharafa and Lubash. In his win in the Poker (June 13), he was aided by being the speed and his speed has always been dangerous. He got knocked a bit because he slowed the pace down, but he ran really well that day. There weren’t many options for him so we had to run back in the Forbidden Apple (July 11), another open race. When Reload hooked him, he just re-broke. I won’t say it very often, even as a fan, but I was impressed. That was an impressive race. Knock on wood, he’s done really well. He breezed a very easy half again today. It doesn’t look fast, but he doesn’t need to go fast. He runs next week in the Fourstardave. He’s fun to have.”
Vision Perfect: “He ran Friday (and finished seventh in the Hall of Fame Stakes). It was a little bit rushed to get him ready, acted up a bit in the gate, was farther back than I thought he’d be but a good effort, beaten 4 1/2 lengths in a tough field. He’ll be the better for it. He won off the layoff at Aqueduct (in April). I thought that was a real gutty effort. He didn’t have to win that day. Then after that, he just wasn’t quite right behind. The owner Bob Spiegel is one of the most patient people I know. I just said I was going to wait and not breeze him until this little issue was resolved. Just with some acupuncture treatment and some time, he got over it. I think he’s got a decent future.”
JC’s Shooting Star: “She was fifth in a maiden New York-bred turf (July 29). She’s stakes-placed. I got a little ambitious last year because some maiden races didn’t go and she finished second in the New York Oaks. I think she’s a useful filly. I’ve got to try to do the right thing with her and try to win a couple races. She’s shown that she’ll run turf or dirt, which I don’t think we see that much in this country.”
Ocala Jim: “He had a really good year last year (four wins and $184,568), and exceeded my expectations. He’s been a little slow to get untracked this year maybe because he’s had to run in more difficult conditions. He probably appreciates a little more cut in the ground than we see in the summer, but he’s doing well and will run back in the West Point (Aug. 28). We’ll take a little shot, especially being that King Kreesa won’t run there.
Lemondrop Lollipop: “Three-year-old filly firster. She’s a neat filly who will probably run on the 22nd of August. I’m going to pop her on the grass. She’s trained really well on the dirt, pretty useful, but the negative will be a maiden race up here is like running in a stakes. She could have a future and the trainer’s not known to win first time out anyway so there’s no pressure.”
T R Crew: “An Uncle Mo 2-year-old. He’s a long way from running, but we like him. He just came in, big scopy horse and a little more pedigree than I’m used to handling.”
These Blues: “Another 2-year-old, he’s by Hard Spun out of a mare that could run a bit, Quantum Mist. They’re a couple interesting horses. We’ll see if they go forward.
Very Easy: “Two-year-old half-brother to Vision Perfect. He’s by Scat Daddy. I’ve breezed him a couple times on and off, little baby stuff. He’s a nice looking individual. He won’t be as ready as early as his brother was, but could be OK down the road.”
Selenite: “She’s a real useful, New York-bred mare (who passed on Saturday’s Waya). We’ll probably just wait for the Yaddo, though unfortunately for us I think Discreet Marq is going to run there. She appreciates the route races, the problem is when you come to Saratoga it can be a little too steep like the Waya.”
Aragonite: “Two-year-old by City Zip, nice big scopy City Zip. He’s had a bunch of breezes, isn’t that far away but isn’t quite there mentally. He’s a New York-bred and a nice horse. He could have a bit of a future when he puts it all together. He trains in a hood, I train a lot of them in hoods. Now I have people come and borrow them from me. I think in the beginning everyone thought it was goofy. I had a guy come to me and say ‘I haven’t seen one of those since Gate Dancer.’ In Japan, they all do it.”
Bluegrass Rye: “He’s a little bit sentimental because it’s for Jim Ryan, Ryehill Farm, who helped me with Awad. Jim still has the odd horse now and then. He bought a mare that RNA’d and she was in foal to Bluegrass Cat. This is the horse. He was disappointing this year on the dirt and as a last resort I put blinkers on and put him on the grass and that’s what he wants to do. He’s been second and third on the grass, pretty useful.”