Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour with Mark Hennig

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Trainer Mark Hennig won six races with seven seconds and seven thirds at the Belmont Park spring-summer meeting and arrived in Saratoga confident his string mixed of veterans and newcomers could keep things rolling. Then it rained. (Originally published in Aug. 8 issue of The Saratoga Special)

“We had a rough start,” Hennig said Wednesday morning after most of his Saratoga contingent of 50 finished for the day. “The first (condition) book didn’t hit me well at all. It goes like that sometimes. You end up running sometimes when you don’t want to.

“And the first week I would have had two that would have been the favorites if their races stayed on the turf, but they came off. Then in a few other spots I had two entered main track only that would have been the favorites, but they kept those races on the turf. Like I said, it goes like that sometimes.”

Hennig, who got in the win column with Saltking last week, remains optimistic. Donald and Donna Adam’s Courtlandt Farm stocks the barn with several homebred and high-priced 2-year-olds along with stakes runners Strike Power and Carlino. Support comes from other owners, too, including Lee Lewis, Alan Brodsky, Bourbon Lane Stable, Lake Star Stable and others.

Hennig went stall-by-stall in the two barns on the main track Wednesday morning with The Special’s Tom Law.

On The Town: Courtlandt’s 3-year-old More Than Ready filly finished up her bath before heading to the end stall closest to Hennig’s office. Off since a second in Belmont allowance May 24, she’s 1-for-6 with $87,340. “We really wanted to run her in the turf series but she popped a nasty splint right before the first race. She had an invitation to the Belmont Oaks, but we couldn’t participate.”

Concerned: Lee Lewis spent $225,000 for Bodemeister filly at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream 2-year-olds in training sale. She won by 5 3/4 lengths at Belmont June 23. “She’s 1-for-1, kicked a wall at the end of June and split her hock open. She’s just started back training.”

Betterment: Courtlandt’s homebred maiden 3-year-old Kitten’s Joy colt hasn’t been out since seventh in Gulfstream Park maiden race Feb. 10. “We did a little procedure on his throat after that. He’s a neat colt out of (multiple graded stakes winner) Ready’s Gal. He probably won’t run until we get back to Belmont. Maybe come along quickly and make a 5 1/2 (furlong race) at the end of the meet, possibly. He’s fitter than he’s supposed to be. He’s that kind of horse. Athletic.”

Make Or Break: Courtlandt’s 2-year-old by Flatter out of the Dixie Union mare Julie From Dixie breezed on the Oklahoma turf July 28 and Aug. 4. “She’s a half to Captain Von Trapp, who ran in one of the Kentucky Derby preps in Hot Springs. She’s probably going to run here on the grass.”

Hollywood Glory: Runner-up in last year’s Chelsey Flower and Tepin downstate, daughter of Maclean’s Music finished eighth in first start off five-month layoff here July 24. “We gave her some time off this winter and she’s just come back. We ran her short the other day and we’re going to stretch her out. She’s probably headed to the turf for her next start.”

Maedean: Courtlandt’s 2-year-old filly by Tapit out of the Grade 1-placed Arch mare Summer Solo. She breezed a half from the gate in :49.09 Aug. 4. “She’s a neat filly. I’m looking forward to running her. She could make the meet toward the end.”

One Time Around: Fourth in debut here July 31, 2-year-old daughter of Empire Maker out of unraced Bernardini mare Sip Sip cost Courtlandt $400,000. “Just needed more ground, we ran 5 1/2 (furlongs), she was coming. Finished fourth and was running at the end. She’ll hopefully come back at seven-eighths.”

First In Command: Courtlandt’s homebred 3-year-old filly by War Front looms large at her door. “She’s a great big filly. She needed a lot of time, we gave it to her and she’s coming along well. She could run here. She’s never run, never really worked much as a 2-year-old. She was up here for a while last summer then we sent her back to the farm, gave her time. I think we’re going to be rewarded for giving her the time.”

Short Pour: Brodsky spent $50,000 to purchase daughter of The Factor at 2017 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale. A winner in her second start last September, she finished third in allowance here July 31. “She’s had a couple tough trips in a row on the turf but she’s got a shot to win a race before the meet is over.”

King Meister: Courtlandt’s 2-year-old by Bodemeister is half-brother to Grade 2 winner Strike Power. “He won’t run up here. We’re kicking along. Strike Power wasn’t a real early horse, he didn’t run until December and this horse is the same type. We’re going to have to let him come along at his own pace. The one thing about Strike Power is he didn’t show that much during August, which is a surprise for as fast a horse as he is. He got outworked by horses and was just OK as a young horse. In the fall he turned the corner and hopefully that’s a similarity with this horse. He needs to turn the corner a bit himself.”

Americanus: Two-year-old by War Front is out of Sapphiresndiamonds, a daughter of Mineshaft Courtlandt bought for $1.45 million at 2006 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale. “He’s doing well. Only had a couple three-eighths breezes so he would not run here.”

Bourbon Rising: McMahon and Hill went to $150,000 at Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale to buy 2-year-old by Uncle Mo. He’ll race for Bourbon Lane Stable and Lake Star Stable. “He’s coming along. He went a half out of the gate the other day. He’s getting there. Neat horse.”

Bourbon War: Bourbon Lane’s and Lake Star’s Grade 2 Fountain of Youth runner-up finished fourth in Florida Derby, eighth in Preakness and 10th in Belmont Stakes. Two-time winner and $202,100-earner sticks his tongue out and waits for Hennig to grab it. “He likes it . . . then he’ll take your fingers off as soon as you stop doing it. He does, he tries to lure you in. We breezed him a half the other day on the turf and he went in :48. We’re going to point him to the Better Talk Now the day after the Travers, 1 mile on the turf. We’ll give him a chance to run probably on his preferred surface, given his mother (Grade 2 turf winner My Conquestadory) was such a good miler on turf.”

Extreme Force: Two-year-old Constitution colt finished third in his debut July 4 and fifth in maiden race here Aug. 3. “He might have been best in his race. He stumbled really bad, went down to his knees. The other day after stumbling, he was last and made a run up there. He’s a pretty neat horse. The race he was third in the horse who was second is the American Pharoah that Gary Contessa trains (Another Miracle) that won. He’s got license to be a nice colt, especially stretching out.”

Bernin’ Thru Gold: Another graduate of Fasig-Tipton Guflstream, 3-year-old by Bernardini cost Lee Lewis $150,000. A maiden winner April 6 at Gulfstream, he’s finished sixth, third and fourth since. “The other day he kind of had that inside post when you didn’t want to be on the inside. He broke his maiden by like 10 at Gulfstream (or 15 3/4). He’s going to be all right.”

Sixth Street: Two-year-old full-sister to stakes winner My Miss Tapit is by Tapit out of the Boken Vow mare Sindy With An S. “Very nice filly. It’s a good family. She’s a full-sister to a couple stakes horses actually. She carried a lot of weight and we’ve been working to get that off of her. She’s got a good shot of making the meet here. The light hasn’t fully come on with her yet but it’s coming. Every work is better than the last.”

Mirandus: Courtlandt 2-year-old has breezed four times here, including a half in :50.34 Aug. 4. “Bernardini 2-year-old filly. This kind of makes me feel good walking down here. She’s coming along, good shot to run here.”

Cache: Three-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor finished fifth and seventh in last year’s Davona Dale and Gulfstream Park Oaks after breaking maiden first out in January 2018. “We thought a lot about her as a 3-year-old. She had an issue with an elbow, where she had a piece of bone pull off. I don’t know if mentally it’s affected her. She hasn’t come back quite as strong. She trains well, but I don’t think she’s forgotten about that discomfort she was in for a while. She looks grand.”

J J’s Dreaming: Seidman Stables’ 5-year-old Freud gelding is 2-3-1 in 14 starts with $136,087 in earnings. “He had a good year last year, had the whole winter off and he’s come back and run once. He’s a nice older New York-bred type.”

Achilles Warrior: David Merjan’s 3-year-old Warrior’s Reward colt cost $75,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale. He’s 2-for-7 and finished seventh behind Shancelot in Grade 2 Amsterdam. “He loomed into second turning for home but then flattened out chasing that beast. He’s a nice colt. He’ll win plenty of races. I don’t know (about the Allen Jerkens), it would depend on the size of the field. We feed him on the ground because he had throat surgery as a 2-year-old.”

Tough Times: Courtlandt’s 4-year-old by Tapit occupies first stall in second barn. Winless in four starts and finished seventh here July 21. “He’s had a tough time with a few setbacks. His day is coming. He ran here, pulled a shoe off. Stumbled on the first turn and had to check. He must have stepped on the shoe because he cut himself, took a divot out right over one sesamoid. A puncture wound where shoe must have come half off and the next step he stepped on it and something sliced his ankle a little bit. It’s in an odd place and I have to keep jogging him to get it to heal up well.”

Sonneman: Courtlandt’s 2-year-old by Curlin out of Grade 2 winner Zardana is half-brother to 2015 Curlin Stakes winner Smart Transition. Finished eighth here July 27. “I really like him. He’s another that needs a mile, mile-and-a-sixteenth but he’s going to run seven-eighths here. We ran him 5 1/2 the first time. I thought he was athletic enough to be a little closer. Got shuffled back since he’s not that fast. He’s got a lot of ability.”

Kid Bourbon: Bourbon Lane’s 3-year-old Lemon Drop Kid colt finished up on the wash pad before a spin around the shedrow. A $120,000 purchase at 2017 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select sale, he finished third in lone start Feb. 23 at Gulfstream. “He’s a nice colt. Coming back strong. He’s got the coolest tail. When it’s dry and brushed out it’s huge and gray.”

Local Counsel: Brodsky named 4-year-old Union Rags colt after John Canney, who is married to Hennig’s step-daughter Brooke. “He’s an attorney in town here. He’s won a few nice New York-bred races. He’s just coming back from surgery in a knee. He’s doing well, had a couple breezes.”

Carlino: Courtlandt’s homebred 5-year-old Lemon Drop Kid gelding finished fifth in Alydar Aug. 2. Four-time winner and $265,657-earner shares the wash pad with Kid Bourbon. “We need to find the right spot for him. He’s tough, he needs like a mile-and-a-quarter with a lot of pace, which you don’t get. The Jockey Club Gold Cup last year he ran well because he did get it and finished fourth. He’s a little frustrating to find the right spot for. He was a fast-closing fourth the other day. That’s what he does. Doesn’t seem to quite get there.”

Strike Power: Fifth in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt after contesting the early pace. Winner of last year’s Swale Stakes also finished second in True North at Belmont June 7. “He and Mitole kind of took it to each other the other day. He bounced out of it pretty well though. We’re giving good thought to running him in the Lucky Coin at the end of the month, 5 1/2 on the turf. He’s all grass on the bottom side. We tried him in the Better Talk Now on the grass last year when he couldn’t get his air. Five-and-a-half on the turf is a good spot for him.”

Or’effice: Two-year-old Medaglia d’Oro colt out of Grade 2 winner Grace Hall cost Courtlandt $725,000 as a yearling. He’s yet to breeze but looks like he’s been through some battles. “He’s a warrior, too. He’s tough. There’s a reason he’s behind the screen. He broke through his webbing. He gets himself in spots. He’s got nicks and scrapes all over him. He’s got a great mind and does well training. He hasn’t really breezed much yet, coming along at a slower pace. He’s got talent and will be a fall horse. Mr. Adam is good friends with Paul Orreffice. When they went to Italy together they spent some time in Venice and were staying in the childhood home of Paul Orrefice. I guess it’s a bed and breakfast now. Mr. Adam said for a couple meals everybody that would see him would refer to him as Or’effice. Or’effice. He finally asked him, ‘why do you they keep calling you Or’effice?’ He said it’s how they pronounce his name in Italian. We think a lot of him and Mr. Adam asked Paul if he could name a horse after him. He had to ask first to make sure Cot Campbell didn’t name one after him first, because he owned a piece of all those Dogwood horses. Once he did he put the accent in there so it will be pronounced the Italian way.”

Up And Onward: Eighth in debut here Aug. 3, he’s a 3-year-old by Tapit out of Grade 1 winner Let Faith Arise. “He’s got speed, had a tough inside post and a horse was right in front of him. He ate dirt the whole way. Luis Saez thought he’d be able to sneak through the inside but it just wouldn’t open up.”

Guarded Secret: Another towering presence, 2-year-old filly by Tiznow shows four breezes for Courtlandt. “Probably a fall horse. She’s surprisingly agile for a big horse.”

The J Y: One of several across Nelson Avenue at the harness track, Brodsky’s 6-year-old by Discreet Cat cost $62,000 at 2014 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale. He’s won five of 21 and earned $239,832. Entered in today’s ninth, an open-company allowance on the grass. “He’s one of our stable favorites. He won his first start back this year right before we left Belmont. He’s a neat horse, cool personality.”

Freddymo Factor: Brodsky bought gelding by The Factor for $80,000 at 2017 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred sale. “Alan bought two by The Factor at the sale and there’s a guy on Twitter named Freddymo that gave him a hard time. So he named him that.”

Cartwheel: Entered in today’s $100,000 Saratoga Dew, 4-year-old Flatter filly romped in off-the-turf $35,000 claimer June 20 at Belmont. “The race was coming up light, I had her nominated and stuck her in. She’s 9-2. It’s worth a shot.”

Saltking: A maiden winner in his third start Aug. 1. Randy Bradshaw, like Hennig a former assistant to D. Wayne Lukas, bought Animal Kingdom colt for $65,000 at 2017 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred sale. He later added Madaket Stables and Commonwealth Stable. “He’s one who’s race stayed on the grass and he won. He should run back in an allowance here.”