Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour with Jimmy Toner

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Pillows, pillows and more pillows. Walk up Jimmy Toner’s shedrow on the main track and that’s what you’ll see. The horses in the stalls are knee deep in straw that spills out into neat pillows like all the barns did way back when. (Originally published in July 19 issue of The Saratoga Special)

Old school as can be in today’s era, Toner approaches the 2019 Saratoga meet like any other. He’s been here for nearly four decades – back to 1983 when he won the Grade 3 Adirondack and Grade 1 Spinaway in a 10-day span with Buzz My Bell – and knows the drill.

“Next week will be a busy week for us,” Toner said in his usual shade-covered spot in the heart of the backstretch of the main track. “As we go along, when you run at Belmont toward the end you’ve got to wait for that cycle to come back so you can run here. Then hopefully by the time you get them going some of the 2-year-olds will be ready to roll. That’s how it goes up here.”

Assisted by Austin Trites, Toner brought his usual string of about 15 that includes famous lead pony Wabbajack to Saratoga. Toner’s Saratoga history goes back even further than Buzz My Bell, who produced 1996 Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone.

“I’ve been two places before I was in this barn. I was in the first barn up there (by the Morning Line Kitchen) and the second year I was down by the (far) turn. After that we came here to this barn. Buzz My Bell was here and that would have been ’83. I was up here before that though. Back then we saddled under the trees, there was no fencing and just people walking around.”

Toner walked from one end of the shed to the other, stepping around and on top of the straw pillows, with The Special’s Tom Law last Saturday to talk about the Saratoga string.

Fortune’s Fool: Maiden winner two starts back for Art Watson’s Burning Daylight Farm occupies stall next to office, inhabited in recent years by Winter Memories, Recepta and Time And Motion. Three-year-old Arch gelding cost $130,000 at 2017 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale. “I’m surprised there’s no filly in that stall. That’s probably the first time. He was second last time at Belmont to a nice horse trained by Kiaran McLaughlin (Endorsed) and had won the time before. He’s going to run the 27th in an allowance race. He’s doing really well. Pretty consistent, nice horse.”

Hawkish: Last year’s Grade 2 Penn Mile Stakes winner relaxed at the back of his stall after his first morning training in Saratoga. Owned by AJ Suited Racing, Robert LaPenta and Madaket Stables, 4-year-old Artie Schiller gelding is 4-for-7 with $466,900 in earnings. “He just got in after having throat surgery about a month ago. He looks good, everything went well, scoped good, just started back training. Maybe we’ll try to make the Bernard Baruch with him. He was off a month and he acts like he wants to go. We took him over to Clare Court and he was jumping, feeling around, doing good. He was only getting 20 percent capacity of his air. And he won a stakes last time with that. Any more than that we’ll be in good shape.”

Hunter O’Riley: The big horse. Sean Shay’s and Mike Ryan’s 6-year-old Tiz Wonderful gelding won the Grade 1 United Nations June 22 at Monmouth Park for his second graded stakes victory. Before the Grade 2 Bowling Green here in 2017 Toner made a deal that if he won he’d rent a golf cart for staffer Elsa Lorieul. The horse won and Toner made good. “Here’s the big boy. He ran a great race, Paco (Lopez) rode a superb race on him and he’s doing super. This time I don’t know what it will cost me; the last time it cost me a golf cart. Hopefully she doesn’t come up with anything else. It won’t be a car. She already has a car. I know I’m not making any more deals.”

Tip At Tapit: Phillips Racing Partnership’s homebred Tapit filly broke her maiden in her fourth start going 1 1/16 miles on the turf at Monmouth June 28. Decked out in a special blanket, 3-year-old filly was backed up to her stall’s door frame and webbing. “She’s been a project in the making but finally we got the job done. Every time you get close to running she comes up with something else. It’s a foot, it’s a rash, it’s an ankle, whatever she can possibly do to drive me nuts she does. She keeps finding things. You see this? See what she’s doing? We have a special made blanket for her because she wants to rub her rear end here. All day long. What happened is she made herself raw and she got a rash over here from rubbing. It’s like diapers.” Trites offers his methodology for dealing with the filly: “Sometimes you just say you can’t win you’ve got to outsmart them, right?” Toner later explained how they tried to handle her this winter at Palm Meadows: “I put her in a padded stall. We padded it all the way around. There was one space over in the corner that I didn’t do. It was this big (Toner holds his hands a foot apart). You know where she was the next day? In the corner. I’ve never had a horse like that. I’ve had her ovaries checked, we have her on Regu-Mate. A lot of horses have these mental habits. It’s a like a horse weaving or a stall walker. You can see it in her eyes.”

Coffee Crush: Bobby Flay’s 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro filly is back in the barn after some R&R at Bruce Jackson’s Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center. She was eased in the $100,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes at Monmouth June 22. “We ran her on the dirt last time then I sent her back to Fair Hill to try to freshen her up. The dirt wasn’t a good experience for her. She’ll be fine.”

Whatdoesasharksay: Burning Daylight Farms’ 3-year-old filly by Animal Kingdom is out of Ask The Question. She’s nicknamed Baby Shark or just Shark, according to Lorieul. Toner hopes for some improvement from seventh, fourth and fifth in three maiden races. “She ran the last week at Belmont, even. She wants to go further. Art Watson’s grandkids named her.”

Sweet Timing: Ryan’s 3-year-old Kitten’s Joy filly breezed once at Belmont since returning from time off following a seventh in Gulfstream Park maiden Jan. 2. “She came up with some issues so I gave her the winter off and now she’s back.”

Hampton Point: Magic Cap Stables bought 4-year-old Lemon Drop Kid gelding back for $80,000 at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky horses of racing age sale July 8. Winner of maiden claiming race May 16 at Belmont, he finished second in a starter allowance there June 15. “He was in the sale two weeks ago and he just got back in. No change in ownership, they just bought a partner out. He’ll run here soon. There was a race (opening) week but I felt it was a little close. I want him to get over the trip and all. Down there it was hot, on and off the van, he got a little tired.”

Violet Blue: Ryan’s 5-year-old Americain mare finished fourth in optional going 11 furlongs on grass June 14. She’s entered going same distance on the grass in today’s seventh. “Hard knocker and as steady as they come. She was beat about a length, went up into a hole and they started closing up and she got checked. Ran a good race. Solid, tries every time.”

Betsy’s Beau: Jerry Weiss’ New York-bred 3-year-old cooled out and got a bath during the tour, not long after he breezed in :51.60 on the Oklahoma turf that morning. “He breezed well and we’re hopeful. Turf sprinter, he’s by Elusive Quality out of an Unbridled’s Song mare.”

Slip Sliding Away: Burning Daylight Farm bought 2-year-old American Pharoah filly privately after she RNA’d for $145,000 at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale. She’s out of the Grade 3-winning Belong To Me mare Leading Astray and breezed a half in :52.65 on the grass July 14. “The kids named this one, too. Nice filly. She’s a little on the small side but has some quality to her. She does everything the right way, she really does. She’ll run here.”

Mominou: Shay’s 4-year-old Congrats filly went in :37.25 for 3 furlongs on the Oklahoma turf. One of nine entered in Sunday’s $200,000 Caress Stakes sprinting on the grass. “She’s doing great, tries hard all the time. We’re excited for that race after she finished third at Monmouth last time.”

Glynn County: Ryan bought 2-year-old unraced Kitten’s Joy colt for $80,000 in April. He’s worked five times since arriving from Stonestreet Training Center in late May, including half in :49.78 July 13. “He’s grass but it was a nice breeze. A really nice breeze.”

Fly Fight Win: Joe Allen’s homebred 2-year-old filly by War Front out of winning Pulpit mare Doo Lang. “We just got her in a couple weeks ago, she breezed twice (at Belmont). Nice filly. Hopefully we get to run her before we leave. This is the first time I’ve had horses for Joe Allen. I’ve known him for 40 years. I got two in from him, one we stopped on, backed off and this one breezed and we’ll breeze again soon.”

Mischief Afoot: The lone member of the string with a full screen, 2-year-old Into Mischief colt eyes his visitors before losing interest. “Art Watson bought him last year. He breezed a half-mile out of the gate with Glynn County. He’d like to get into some mischief, that’s why I have the screen up. He wants to be a boy. A bad boy sometimes, but he’s OK.”

Coin The Phrase: A J Suited’s homebred Goldencents filly started at Crupi’s New Castle Farm before shipping north to Toner’s string at Belmont, where she breezed seven times. She went a half in :49.73 on the main track July 14. “She’s not too far from running. She’s quick, looks like she’ll have some speed. Should be running in the next couple of weeks. The Goldencentses have been running pretty good.”

Global Exchange: Third here last season, Exchange Rate filly returned this spring at Belmont and finished third and fifth in 6-furlong turf maiden races at Belmont. “She came up with some physical issues so we gave her the winter off and brought her back. She’ll hopefully run here on the 28th. Doing well.”

Savvy Cairo: Maiden 3-year-old by Cairo Prince is out of her stall at the end of the barn. She’s 0-for-2 for Louis Lazzinnaro, John D’Amato, Albert Frassetto and Lindy Farms, but finished fourth in debut at 6 furlongs on the dirt. “We’re trying to find the right spot for her. She just breezed on the grass (half in :51.60).