Features

Oklahoma? Check. Horse Haven? Check. Around the turn? Check. Main Track? Check. Clare Court? Check. Harness side? Check. Gridley Street? Check.

The annual Glenn DiSanto Little Guy Stable Tour can be part trek, part fact-finding mission. It’s always fun, frequently funny and at times a little sad. We’ve done this five times, and there are fewer little guys these days. We miss DiSanto for sure, and named this for him after he died in 2017. He was a fixture. There are others no longer out there, too, and they leave a big hole.

They’re all over Saratoga Race Course, and we admire the work they do and the results they get. Just because your stable doesn’t have an overflow division doesn’t mean you can’t win races. Saratoga stakes winner Carrera Cat appeared here in 2017, as an unraced 2-year-old. Back then she and John Morrison’s string were in Barn 4 at the harness track. Now, she headlines a small barn in Horse Haven after making the cover.

We can’t wait to see what – and who – is next.

In an annual wander, Tom Law, Sean Clancy and Joe Clancy meandered all over the backside(s) to catch up with some of Saratoga’s little guys. Come along for the ride. (Editor’s note, originally published in the Sept. 1 edition of The Saratoga Special)

Eduardo Caramori (Miss Gossip): The trainer’s son/assistant Caue stood outside the stall at the harness track while the 6-year-old, second in the Smart And Fancy here, stood in ice boots. “This one finished second in a stake, I claimed her here last summer, ran her in some graded stakes, I was thinking we were going to retire here and the owner (Go-To-Toga Racing) said he wanted to run her one more year. I said, ‘If we’re going to run her one more year, we’ve got to get this horse right.’ I gave her the winter off, sent her to my brother and his girlfriend in Florida and got her back in March. She was a totally different horse. She got beat 2 lengths the first time and I was confident going into the stake. I was devastated, because it’s so hard to win, the owners were thrilled. We lost that same race by a nose. I called my dad this time, he was on vacation in Brazil. He said, ‘Was it as bad as the other one?’ I felt better. You just want to win so bad. Next summer, I’m going to come here earlier. I love the harness, it’s so quiet, the horses did well.”

Richard Valentine (No Mans Land): Predominantly a steeplechase trainer, Valentine reserved three stalls at Saratoga this summer. Manny Franco guided Bill Pape’s homebred No Man’s Land to upset Tide Of The Sea, trained by Bill Mott, in a three-turn turf allowance. Assistant Laird George, aboard stakes-placed jumper Arch My Boy, talked about the win. “We hoped he could finish second to Mott’s horse. He keeps a little to himself. Richard decided to take the blinkers off, change it up. Manny seems to have the key to him, he needs to get there at the last minute. It was a good day.”

Cameron Broome (First Timer): The 2-year-old daughter of Micromanage and House Virgin trains in a blue saddle towel adorned with “1 CANDY” each morning. “I started with Frank LaBoccetta back in 1987, then Dr. Galvin sent me up to break horses at Webb Carroll’s training center. Now I’ve got two of my own and I groom for Jimmy Ferraro. I do everything but ride them. She’ll be ready to run in two weeks. She worked in :38 and 1 the first time on the turf and galloped out in 50 with the dogs up, that was a pretty good move. She’s not the same horse on the dirt, she’s just a 13 clip horse on the dirt. I’m putting her back on the turf (Friday) to go five-eighths. I just use the dirt to condition her.”

Jimmy Ferraro (Aunt Babe): Owned and bred by Louis Ferrari, the New York-bred has produced three wins, including two stakes wins. She finished third in a starter allowance at Belmont July 3. “Our best horse is right there, she hasn’t won a race this year but she’s won two stallion series stakes. She popped a bad abscess in behind, we finally put a shoe on her with a leather pad. We’ll point for Aqueduct with her. Allen Jerkens and I trained the mother, Bella Silver.”

Jimmy Ferraro (Blue Skies Forever): “I got another horse for free last year. Howard Nolan gave it to Joe McMahon, he ran her once, he said, ‘I’ve got enough horses, you take this horse.’ We’ve been lucky, won two races with him this year. I’ve had him for about a year now, he pays his way. They don’t always work out that way. Looks like we’re going to get the duck this year, I’ve been coming up here since 1969, when I was 12 years old. My father had two stalls at the end of where Gary Sciacca is now.”

Jimmy Ferraro (Beta): Unraced 2-year-old nips at his trainer and a visitor. Big, good-looking colt breezed 3 furlongs in :36.85 over the Oklahoma track Aug. 29. “He’s by Alpha, (the owner) named him Beta. Great name. I like short names. He’s advertised in your paper, nice horse. He came up from Woodberry Payne. He’s out of Seven Deadly Sins, most people only need one to get in trouble.”

Peter Pugh (Brickyard): First horse, first race Sunday. The son of Take Charge Indy posted the fastest of three breezes on the training track Aug. 21. “He’s a New York-bred I scratched (Friday) so I put him in the auction race. He’s OK, he’s coming around. It took him a while. He had a case of the slows but his last couple of works have been good so we’re going to go ahead and run him.”

Peter Pugh (Noble Enterprise): The trainer walked the 2-year-old daughter of Noble Mission around the small barn between the Phipps’ kitchen and Wayne Lukas’ barn Saturday morning. “She’s actually pretty nice. Cherry Knoll bought her. I had her entered, rained off, so we scratched. It looks like mid-fall before she runs.”

Jena Antonucci (Gemonteer): A graduate of the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale in 2016 won a stakes last summer at Gulfstream Park. Freshened this summer, he returned with a sixth sprinting on the turf before finishing a game third going a mile Travers Day. “He won first time out for a tag, then won a stakes for us. We sprinted him first start off the layoff and came back to his right distance. Hopefully if we get in, we’ll go to Kentucky Downs.”

Jena Antonucci (Bellavia): Son of Honor Code went through the ring at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream 2-year-old sale in March but failed to sell. He made his debut here, finishing second for Antonucci, Randy Bradshaw and Fred Rosen. And then walked over to Todd Pletcher’s barn. “He’s named after the first living Iraqi war hero who received the Medal of Honor, we gave him big shoes to fill. He transferred to Todd on Tuesday. We’ll be rooting and cheering every time he runs. It is the best and worst. He was a pinhook horse, one of six we bought to pinhook. We didn’t get it done through the (sales) season, we had an offer about a week before he ran and we decided to take the bull by the horns and run him. We believed in him. He ran fantastic and we got him sold. The original partners are staying in for 30 percent. We’ll watch him blossom. It’s hard, it sucks, but our team did our job. He’s got a phenomenal foundation from Randy on the farm, to us getting him ready to run. We had enough respect for the horse to not give away the horse during the season. It’s everything that’s right and wrong with our business, but I understand that owners have their connections where they’re comfortable. You just hope it creates more opportunities down the road.”

Eddie Davis (Fame To Famous): You don’t see many sons of Tapit on the Little Guy Stable Tour but here’s one. John P. Mc Allen purchased him for $35,000 at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old sale. The bay 2-year-old has produced a fourth and a third in two starts. “He almost won first time out, got stopped at the sixteenth pole. After I got to galloping him and assessing him, I said, ‘I don’t care if it’s turf, dirt or hot lava, this horse needs to go two turns.’ We laughed. He’s beautiful.”

Eddie Davis (Irish Banker): One of 12 horses Davis has bedded down in the courtyard style barn on Frank Sullivan Place, behind the paddock saddling stalls. “For the limited number of starters we’ve had, we’ve been fairly successful (a second, four thirds and four fourths at the meet). She is a little filly by Central Banker, every time she goes out there, she picks up a check. She’s a hard knocker. We’ve been milking that maiden condition. That’s OK, she always tries real hard. She’s a sweetheart.”

Eddie Davis (Point Of Humor): Randy Wojdyla owns him, I’ve been working closely with him. “There could be a hundred horses on the track and he would stand out. He ran a good closing third Opening Day, fifth in his next start and a good second the day after the Travers.”

Eddie Barker (Family Biz): Co-owned by Barker’s longtime client Danny Chen, 3-year-old stakes-placed Fed Biz gelding is 2-for-13 with $161,695 in earnings. He finished seventh for $75,000 tag going 7 furlongs here Aug. 16. “He ran up here last year as a 2-year-old and we had a very good winter with him. He won the starter allowance, won the allowance and was third in the Jerome. We gave him some time and he’s just getting back to it now. He’ll probably run when we get back to Belmont.”

Eddie Barker (Zuzudini): Iris Smith’s 2-year-old Bernardini colt cost $150,000 in April. He finished sixth in maiden special weight here Aug. 22. “He ran up here in the mile and an eighth first time. He ran good, made a nice little move up to the eighth pole and got a little tired. We’re looking to run him back at Belmont. He’s a really nice colt.”  

Eddie Barker (Our Troubadour): Iris Smith’s 2-year-old son of Palace Malice cost $55,000 in April. He’s breezed five times at Saratoga, including 5 furlongs in 1:02.44 Saturday on the main track. “He’s probably this breeze and one more, then we’ll be ready to go at Belmont.”  

Eddie Barker (Polar Bear Pete): Chen’s 2-year-old Broken Vow colt. “New York-bred, also like maybe one breeze or two away. They’re all pretty close. We didn’t get to run a lot of the horses. Some of them came about two or three weeks too short but it was great here. The weather’s been fabulous. We enjoyed ourselves, had a bunch of barbecues at night.”

Kerry Metevier (Sophie Fatale): Co-bred by her trainer with Sandra Metevier and H. Bud Wolf, 2-year-old filly by Mr. Speaker is out of the Metevier-trained winner Tizallheart. She’s breezed five times, including back-to-back half miles on the Oklahoma turf. “She looks like the real deal. Come along slow but sometimes the good ones take a little while to get to the races. She’s maybe September-ish.”

Kerry Metevier (Irena N Ella): Bred by Metevier, Sandra Metevier and Patrick Davis, 2-year-old daughter of Central Banker out of the Archers Bay mare Bajan Princess. She’s breezed 3 furlongs three times. “She’s from the second crop of Central Banker and she’s really fast. About two works away from running. We don’t have a lot of action but we have a lot of stuff to look forward to. Hopefully we’ll have a good winter.”

Robbie Davis (Brown Mousse): Davis rode 2-year-old by Big Brown into end stall of Barn 4 of the harness track, hopped off and talked about the New York-bred colt out of the Vision And Verse mare La Mousse. “He worked 47 and 3 out of the gate and came back with a bucked shin. So that slowed us down a little bit. Like the mousse you eat at dinner. We really like him.”

Robbie Davis (Dancers For Token): Glas-Tipp Stable’s 3-year-old maiden by Big Brown finished ninth in the Albany Stakes Aug. 23. He’s 0-for-3 and on the mend. “He was working lights out, three quarters in 12, 14, five-eighths in a minute. He’s making a nice move and hit a brick wall. We brought him back and he’s gushing snot, 104 temperature the next day. We’ll give him that as an excuse. He’s a very nice horse. We’re looking forward to him.” 

Robbie Davis (Dancing Slippers): Glas-Tipp Stable’s 3-year-old filly by Catienus finished fifth in Statue of Liberty division of New York Stallion Series July 31 then ninth in a maiden special weight Aug. 15. “Went from the 10 hole to the rail, back out to the 8 hole and got beat 5 lengths. The jock told me I need to drop her down out of maiden special weight, that she could win that race. After riding 30,000 races myself I felt like maybe I could try her again with an inside post. They’re only trying to help me but I’m not here to give horses away either. I spent a lot of time getting her ready, she’s making money and she’s doing well. She’s fun to ride. With the right trip she could be right there and win. I understand that, jocks want to have an easy win.”

Robbie Davis (Dublin Green): A three-time veteran of the Stable Tour, 5-year-old Dublin gelding shoehorns into his stall. He won since last year’s tour, taking a maiden special weight at Aqueduct March 1 at 35-1 in a six-horse field. He finished seventh for a $40,000 tag Aug. 14. “Don’t forget him. He’s a 5-year-old. Here he is. We filled the race twice, once for Chad and once for Todd. Maybe I’ll have to go to Finger Lakes and they’ll fill one for me. We can go from $5,000 on up. That will pump him up. Give him a little confidence. He did win and it was ‘Dublin Green, he’s going to pay a lot of green.’ Look at him in that stall, his tail touches the wall and his nose touches the other one. He stocks up in behind. It’s a terrible stall for him. I looked across the street to Clare Court and half the barns are empty over there all meet. I guess they want to torture me, solitary confinement. I must have done something wrong.”

Pat Quick (E Z For You To Say): Third at 51-1 here July 31, the 2-year-old New York-bred daughter of Majestic City was eyeing another start here, but was a victim of the entry box. “I haven’t been able to get her back in a race. We got on the also-eligible list the other day, so she’ll probably have to wait for Belmont. It was a good race, she very possibly could have had second with a little luck.”

Pat Quick (Ari’s Naughty Luca): Three-year-old Mineshaft gelding is in today’s third race and exits a seventh here Aug. 7 after a short break. “We claimed him at Belmont (in June) and had a little trouble figuring him out, but we’ve got him figured out now and I expect him to run a good race.”

John Morrison (Amazing Zero): Third in her debut Aug. 28, the 3-year-old filly bucked and squealed in the round pen while her trainer talked about her. “She just took time to get there. She walked out of the gate, but we had a gate thing that day. A horse flipped over and we had to reload her and had the one hole. You can’t school for that. She just broke slow.”

John Morrison (Carrera Cat): The star of the show. First or second in her last seven, she won the Union Avenue here Aug. 15 to become the first Little Guy Stable Tour horse to later make the cover of The Special. Four-year-old daughter of Courageous Cat will look to pad her $274,856 bankroll in the Gallant Bloom Stakes at Belmont Sept. 22. “We always thought she was more than OK. She just had nagging little stuff, it was nothing major, it was all kind of cumulative. She popped a splint in the race in January (a New Year’s Day allowance score), but it turned out to be a hairline fracture and the time benefited everything. It really helped her. After seven weeks off, the first time I breezed her I just knew we had a different horse.”

John Morrison (The Last Ace): Stone Bridge Farm homebred 2-year-old son of Honor Code is training toward a debut. His trainer will let the horse decide when. “I haven’t done much with him, he’s got some immaturity issues but he could make some noise. He’s OK. Riders argue over who gets on him every day.”

John Morrison (Here Comes Tommy): Now this is a horse. The 9-year-old New York-bred has run 62 times with three wins, 14 seconds and 13 thirds for $403,015 in earnings for owner Vincent Murray. The veteran last ran in May, but has worked four times at Saratoga and will look for a comeback race at Belmont or Aqueduct. “This is his last year. He’s a total dude.”

Fran Raia (Rennina’s Rose): The 3-year-old Marsh Side filly shares barn space with some harness horses, and finished last of nine here Aug. 8 in her only start for owner/breeder Raia and trainer Frank Multari Jr. Raia won three races with her dam Rennina. “She’s all distance. I had to run her 5 1/2 (furlongs) because there weren’t any other races and we had to get going. She gets left in the gate a little bit, but she only gets beat 20 lengths. She’ll run all day, we haven’t hit the bottom of her yet.”