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George Weaver has earned the reputation of being a Saratoga specialist over the years.

 “We’ve always had a great meet up here,” Weaver said Wednesday morning. “We’re fortunate to have that luck. I don’t want to let anybody down so we’re working extra hard but sometimes you need a little bit of luck. For example, the weather for these grass horses can make the difference between a five-win meet and a 10-win meet. We want to have a big meet here, we want to have a big meet everywhere. It’s hard to sustain the numbers. Usually, we’re firing on all cylinders by the time we get up here.”

Through Thursday, Weaver’s only win at the meet came Opening Day with Daddy Is A Legend in the Grade 3 Lake George. He’s had five other runners hit the board.

“We jumped off with the one win and we’ve had a bunch of slices after,” Weaver said. “We’re hoping we can turn some of them into wins and carry on the longstanding tradition of us having a good meet.”

After a typical morning of training going back and forth between the main track and Oklahoma on his pony, Weaver took a few minutes to walk down his shedrow with The Special’s Ben Gowans. (Editor’s note: Originally published in the August 3 issue of The Saratoga Special)

Daddy Is A Legend: The star of the barn, and the meet so far. Jim and Susan Hill’s 3-year-old filly got in the winner’s circle for the first time this year after her victory in the Lake George Opening Day. Weaver denied rumors of an extravagant party after the win. “She don’t need no introduction. I just slept good that night. There’s too much going on. After that race, we were hanging out in front of the grandstand. We had a couple of beers but I was in bed by 8:30. You have to pace yourself. That was Opening Day, man. If you blow things out Opening Day it might take you a week to recover.”

Thundering Sky: Matt Schera bought this daughter of Sky Mesa at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale all the way back in 2014. The 5-year-old placed in three graded stakes this year at Santa Anita and took the De La Rose Stakes here last year. She’s entered to defend her De La Rose crown Saturday. She stands next to the wall chilling out with a homemade (by Weaver’s wife Cindy) equine massage tool attached to her neck and running down her leg. “She’s one of our all-stars over here. She’s knocked out close to half-a-million, run in some big races. She’s been unlucky to not have a graded stakes win yet. It doesn’t look good for her as far as forecasts go (this weekend). Cindy’s got some machine on her. Zzzz. It actually works though. It’s just a little square box with a motor that vibrates. It calms them down.”

Majestic Dunhill: Son of Majesticperfection broke his maiden here last year in his third start. Turf sprinter is 2-for-2 this year for R.A. Hill Stable. Both came at Monmouth, first an allowance in his first race as a 3-year-old and then three weeks later he came back to win the My Frenchman Stakes. “I’m looking at the Quick Call Stakes. We’re excited about him. He’s doing really well, in the zone. We had him last year as a 2-year-old but he’s stepped his game up a little bit.”

Breaking Lucky: Six-year-old has been with Weaver for a little more than a month. The earner of $1,128,276 was third behind Gun Runner in last year’s Grade 1 Whitney. He ran well at Saratoga the previous year as well, finishing a close fourth in the Grade 1 Woodward. The Ontario-bred won Fort Erie’s Prince Of Wales Stakes as a 3-year-old. “Reade Baker had him previously. Reade did a good job with him. The horse was just a cut below the top handicap horses. He was chasing Gun Runner last year. He should run here at the meet. Nothing picked out yet, he’s had two five-eighths of a mile workouts so there’s going to be options for us. We just haven’t penciled one in yet but he’s training well. He’s a class horse. He’s built like a tank.”

Way Early: Jim and Susan Hill purchased this son of Tizway in 2016 at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred yearling sale. He made a successful debut last fall at Belmont. He has acquitted himself well against open company this year, finishing second in the Grade 2 Penn Mile at Penn National and fourth last month in the Grade 3 Kent at Delaware Park. “We’re looking to drop him back into a New York-bred one-other-than. The goal would be to run him here, but later in the meet.”

Noble Spirit: One of the “slices” Weaver referenced, he was third in a maiden special turf route for 2-year-olds Opening Weekend. West Point Thoroughbreds and Jimmy Kahig Racing own the son of Noble Mission purchased at last year’s Fasig-Tipton turf showcase yearling sale. “He ran well. We’re looking to catch a maiden race towards the end of the meet in the third condition book. He should be pretty live. We liked him going into his first race. He came out of it well and should be better off with a race under his belt. We’ve had him for a while, he actually came into Belmont in early May. I have three Noble Missions, I’m trying to corner the market.”

Holiday Stone: Consistent colt ran well in a number of stakes races last year. He’s entered to make his first start this year in Saturday’s first race. “He had a real nice year as a 3-year-old. He was knocking on the door in a couple of stakes. He should’ve been second in the Penn Mile last year, he got robbed and finished fifth. He’s coming off the bench. We’ll look for a two-other-than going a mile on the grass, if they ever have grass again here.”

Ride The Lights: Candy Ride colt is owned by R.A. Hill Stable, Gatsas Stable and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing. The 2-year-old has three recent workouts on the Oklahoma Training Track. “Bred on the same cross as Gun Runner. Candy Ride out of a Giant’s Causeway mare. I don’t know if he’s a Gun Runner yet. He’s about a half-mile fit. So far, he’s dirt but I haven’t pushed on him far enough to know. He could run at the end of the meet.”

Point Of Honor: Stetson Racing owns the 2-year-old filly. She had her first work out of the gate July 30 over the main track, a half-mile in :48.56. “Expensive Curlin filly as a yearling. She’s been coming along. Worked a half-mile out of the gate a couple days ago. She should run at the meet as well. She’ll want more distance. She’ll have a little bit of gas but she’s not a sprinter. We like her. First year I’ve had horses for (Stetson Racing). They’re California-based and wanted to have a couple on the East Coast as well.”

Shanghai Dreams: Filly by Shanghai Bobby was purchased at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred yearling sale in 2016. She’s made one start, a fourth in a turf maiden at Belmont June 8. She shares a large window in the wall separating her and the next filly on the tour. “She was scratched off the turf earlier in the meet. We’ll be watching the forecast to see if we can ever get her in on the grass. Nice filly, we’ve liked her all along. We love these stalls with the big window in there. Some of the nervous fillies do well with them. Obviously, it’s best for horses than want to weave, or run the stall, or get active in the stall. To have that here, it distracts them and they don’t feel so isolated.”

Unnamed Freud filly: Weaver bred and owns this 2-year-old. “She’s not named yet, she’s out of a mare named Vinda. We had trained Vinda and now we own her as a broodmare. So far, it’s been all money in on my part. I’m hoping she will bring some money back to me. (Vinda) was one of our favorites and she was in for a claim and we decided to claim her back and make her a broodmare. This is her second baby. This filly is athletic. You just don’t want to give them a bad name. I told Cindy we better name her because otherwise she’ll never make it to the races. Maybe that’s why she’s not ready yet because we didn’t name her.”

Thunder’s Honor: Parkland Thoroughbreds’ 3-year-old hasn’t raced since a maiden-breaking score at Gulfstream in January. He won at 5 furlongs on turf that day but finished second on dirt in his two starts prior. “We’re looking to run him the 15th. Nice horse, fast, always been athletic. Always a happy horse too. Loves life, loves being a racehorse. He likes to bite, he can be rough in a coltish way but not in a mean way. He just likes to play. He’s all about play, he thinks life is just a grand time. He can do both, dirt or turf. We’re looking forward to running him. The race we’re going in is a turf race but we’ll still run if it comes off. This one we’re not worried about coming off the turf.”

Unnamed Violence colt: R.A. Hill Stable and John Schutte own this 2-year-old out of All About Allison. He walked to the front of his stall to greet the humans in front of him. “This horse is fast. He likes to bite quite a bit, don’t you punk? He’s got a lot of personality. All our horses are somewhat smart, but this is a smart horse. I might even be able to ride him. If he doesn’t make it racing, I might make a pony out of him. My pony is by City Zip and he’s out of a City Zip mare, so they are related.”

Mo Maverick: R.A. Hill and Gatsas Stable own this New York-bred 4-year-old. He’s won five of 12 starts for Weaver, including a score in the Lamplighter Stakes at Monmouth last year. The son of Uncle Mo was fourth around that same oval in last weekend’s Grade 3 Oceanport Stakes. “He’s out of conditions and a hard horse to spot but he’s one of our favorites. We’ll nominate to the West Point (Stakes Aug. 24).”

Noble Nebraskan: Jim and Susan Hill’s 2-year-old is entered to debut in Saturday’s second race. He came to the front of his stall to show off a scrape down his face. He’s the only one in the barn with a screen at the front of his stall instead of just the usual “GRW” webbing. “One of my three Noble Missions. We’re going to run him Saturday if it’s on the grass. I don’t know if it will stay on. It looks like he got in a battle with the wall. He can be a handful sometimes. You have a gate on him, he’s all protected. He likes to wear a little lip cord when he goes to the track. He’s got a little too much boy in him. But he’s a beautiful-moving horse, has great action.”

Fed Fever: Son of Fed Biz was sold at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale and this year’s Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old sale. Despite being backed in the wagering, he disappointed on debut here July 21. “He was fractious in the gate, got away bad and didn’t get to show how good he is. He’s one of our better 2-year-olds. At the end of the day, I thought if he broke sharp he’d have a chance to win. He just didn’t get away good and with 2-year-old racing if that happens it’s over. It’s hard to recover with an inexperienced horse. He should have a very good chance to win when he comes back at the meet.”

Pier Forty: West Point and Rob Masiello own this son of City Zip. He’s been working on a consistent basis for two months and is nearing his debut. “We’re looking at the New York-bred maiden race going long on the grass. He’s got a lot of miles in him and he’s an athletic horse, enthusiastic, loves to train. We broke him out of the gate a few times. Eventually we might be able to run him a little shorter, but his works on the grass have been better at this point than they have been on the dirt. I think that’s his best chance to win right now.”

Vekoma: Candy Ride colt is out of Grade 1 winner Mona de Momma, who sold for $1,550,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s 2011 November Sale. “Nice colt. He’s pretty fast. He can run. My guy over there Steve Venosa that broke him said, ‘this one can carry the mail.’ He’ll probably catch the back end of the meet.”

Flyoff: Son of Get Stormy resides in the stand-alone stall at the end of the shedrow. He was bought at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old sale in 2014. Hasn’t run often but has run well. He broke his maiden with ease last month at Belmont. “He drew off by 8 down there. I’ve always loved this horse. We had to give him a bunch of time off, but he can run. Just a great horse to be around too. Another one, I want to make him a pony. I’m running him in a starter allowance going a mile. I think 5 1/2 (furlongs) is too quick for him, you have to giddy-up and go too much.”

Wine Not: West Point bought this son of First Dude at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred yearling sale in 2014. He finished second in his first ever stakes start last month in the Saginaw at Belmont. “He has really stepped up his game this year. He’s at Belmont. Big, long, good-looking, rugged horse. He’s doing well, we’ll look at the Evan Shipman later in the meet.”