“It’s $50,000, throw mud against the wall and see what sticks.”
That’s how Jack Fisher described his approach to running second-time starter Whitman’s Poetry in the Harry E. Harris, a $50,000 Sport of Kings maiden, at Far Hills. Owned by Sheila Fisher and her father Rufus Williams’ Dash Stable and ridden by Sean McDermott, the 6-year-old put method to Fisher’s madness with a professional score over first-time starter Sixty Five and third-time starter Make Big Plans.
McDermott placed Whitman’s Poetry between Overawe and Fifty Five over the first hurdle before sliding into the sweet spot inside in second as Overawe opened up on his nine rivals. With a circuit to go, Whitman’s Poetry continued to lope in third as Make Big Plans took over from Overawe. Whitman’s Poetry flew the first hurdle down the backside, McDermott stifled his exuberance, sliding the big bay back into fifth as Buck Benny loomed outside and Sixty Five angled to the inside behind Overawe and Make Big Plans. By the time the field landed over the third hurdle down the backside, Whitman’s Poetry was back on the bridle and ready to pounce. Rising up the hill, Whitman’s Poetry engaged and inhaled, accelerating wide, flying the last and holding off Sixty Five by three quarters of a length.
Purchased from Laurel Park-based Tim Keefe this summer, Whitman’s Poetry made his hurdle debut at Shawan Downs Sept. 23. Following Fisher’s usual program, Whitman’s Poetry wasn’t tuned up to win his debut but the son of Tiznow took it to another level, airing well over his hurdles and winding up seventh, beaten nearly 39 lengths.
“After his run at Shawan, I was told to run him back on the flat but I was like, ‘He’s fine, he made it around, he was beaten 40 or 50 lengths, so what,’ ” Fisher said. “We’ve always liked the horse, he’s got a good stride, he’s a good jumper. I was surprised how badly he jumped at Shawan but we let him run down over them a couple of times since. I had him follow me on Schoodic, and he was good.”
Whitman’s Poetry made 13 starts on the flat, winning twice and finishing third in the Laurel Turf Cup and third behind Mutassawy at the International Gold Cup last fall. Freshened over the winter, he wound up with Keefe this summer but looked more like a jumper than a flat horse to the former assistant to Hall of Fame steeplechase trainer Janet Elliot.
“He’s a big, long-striding horse with a great attitude, he just looked out of place galloping on the dirt at Laurel every morning,” Keefe said. “Every day I watched him gallop, I just thought of him as a jumper. Sean (Clancy) and I watched him gallop on a Sunday morning, we were both like, ‘Jumper.’ Sean called Jack and convinced him. It’s neat to see a horse do something else, do something he was meant to do. I’m glad it worked out.”