Features

George Weaver can usually be counted on to have a handful of winners at Saratoga, but this year’s meet hasn’t necessarily followed that pattern. With just one victory, he’s a long way off last year’s total of six, but that hasn’t affected the trainer’s dry sense of humor. (Originally published in Aug. 17 issue of The Saratoga Special)

“I don’t have any Vekomas over here,” he quipped.

No Vekoma, who is rehabbing after a start in the Kentucky Derby, but Weaver does have Point Of Honor, 5-2 second choice in (today’s) Grade 1 Alabama. The 3-year-old filly won the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico in May and was valiant in defeat to Guarana in last month’s Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks.

While it hasn’t been the most productive meet for Weaver, Our Country’s maiden win Aug. 3 was a bright spot. The 2-year-old drew off stylishly in his second start to win by 5 3/4 lengths. He’s likely destined for stakes company.

Weaver discussed Point Of Honor, Our Country, a few unraced 2-year-olds and various horse issues while taking a stroll down his shedrow Thursday morning with The Special’s Ben Gowans.

All About It: Chestnut colt made his first start in a strong maiden turf sprint here last summer, finishing in the middle of a trifecta with future graded stakes winners Fog Of War and Current. That positive debut gave Weaver the confidence to run him in the Indian Summer Stakes last October, where he finished fourth. The 3-year-old owned by John Schutte and Randy Hill’s R. A. Hill Stable has not raced since. “He’s in on Saturday, maiden 40 (third race). He showed some promise last year but he’s got more baggage than I’d like and it’s just time to put him in a realistic spot.”

Our Country: Gatsas Stable and R. A. Hill Stable own the 2-year-old Constitution colt who broke his maiden impressively Aug. 3 on grass. With that catalog update, colt’s half-sister by Outwork sold for $500,000 at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred yearling sale this week. “I’m still waiting for my cut (on that). The only horse in my barn that has won this whole meet. We’re happy, that got me back on the bridle a little bit. I think we’ll go to the With Anticipation as long as he’s doing well. There are a couple of spots in other places too. He’s got his little quirks here and there but he’s pretty good to be around. He still might be dirt, but it’s hard to change after that last race.”

Vermont Billy: Martin Schwartz acquired the 2-year-old Uncle Mo colt after a winning bid of $475,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old sale. He’s out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Lady Godiva, who sold for $600,000 at the Fasig-Tipton November fall mixed sale a few weeks before her son Leofric won the Grade 1 Clark. “Big, good looking horse. Hasn’t worked yet.”

Inside Info: Unraced 2-year-old colt makes his first start in today’s opener. He belongs to an ownership ground including Black Type Thoroughbreds, Parkland Thoroughbreds, and Twin Creek Racing Stable. They purchased him for $165,000 this year. Mission Impazible colt went 4 furlongs from the gate in :47.87 over the main track Aug. 5. “New York-bred maiden. He’s the first Mission Impazible I’ve had.”

Shared Secret: Uncle Mo 2-year-old filly is a granddaughter of Grade 1 winner Dress To Thrill. She worked twice in June. “Unstarted filly out of a Galileo mare. Stetson Racing owns her. She’s probably grass. She won’t run at the meet, needs a little more time.”

Way Early: Fasig-Tipton New York-bred yearling graduate started his 2019 campaign with a sixth Aug. 2. Jim and Susan Hill’s 4-year-old ran competitively against open competition last year, finishing second in the Grade 2 Penn Mile and fourth in the Grade 3 Kent. “He won here last year and hopefully we can win again with him this year. He ran and finished sixth, disappointing. It was a little too short for him. Macagone ran off the screen.”

Swirling Candy: Weaver bought the cleverly named Twirling Candy filly out of the stakes-placed mare Magnificent Shirl. She has worked five times, most recently 4 furlongs in :48.69 from the gate Aug. 15. “Tries hard. Probably a turf sprinter.”

2017 Ghostzapper-Underwater colt: Stetson Racing went to $600,000 to secure 2-year-old this year. “He’s not named yet. Expensive 2-year-old purchase. He’s pretty. He’s been galloping a couple weeks, but he won’t run here.”

2017 Lookin At Lucky-Fast Moon colt: Spartan Thoroughbreds went to $180,000 for the handsome chestnut at the Fasig-Tipton fall yearling sale. Has yet to work. “Real good-looking horse. Not going to be ready for the meet.”

Brockmoninoff: Smart Bid 4-year-old colt raced for the first time this year Aug. 3, finishing ninth. New York-bred owned by Thomas Brockley and Daryn Bedinotti was first and third in two starts here last year. He’s out of the New York-bred mare Frivolous Buck, a stakes-placed Weaver trainee. “He disappointed us in his first race here but didn’t really break well and didn’t get the right trip. Hoping to win a race here with him if we can.”

Flat Out Blue: Gayle Woods purchased the son of Flat Out for $20,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton July yearling sale and then sold him to Weaver for $30,000 this year. He worked a few times, but Weaver has decided to back off the 2-year-old for a little while. “Came up with some feet problems, we were on schedule to make the meet and now we’re not on schedule to make the meet. We like him though.”

Point Of Honor: Classy chestnut filly should relish the 10 furlong-distance of today’s? Grade 1 Alabama. Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbreds and Stetson Racing, daughter of Curlin has won three of five starts and earned $346,375. “Point of Honor here in stall 18. She’s obviously the cream of the crop over here.”

Speightstown Gal: Rockingham Ranch signed the ticket for this three-time Fasig-Tipon sales graduate at the March Florida select 2-year-olds in training sale. Gray filly cost $150,000. She has been working steadily and posted a 4-furlong Oklahoma turf move in :49.93 Aug. 9. “Unstarted New York-bred maiden by Cairo Prince. We’re running her on the 23rd on turf.”

Instinctive Rhythm: West Point Thoroughbreds’ $350,000 buy is ready to run after a strong series of works, but just needs to find a place. Weaver hoped for rain Thursday but got sunny skies instead. “He’s main-track-only today which isn’t going to happen. He breezed well at the sale. He’s quick. I’d like to run him 5 1/2 first out because I think his early speed is an asset. With this rain not coming through, we’re going to run him Sept. 2 going 5 1/2.”

Boom Boom Kaboom: Flashy 2-year-old son of Emcee is another three-time Fasig-Tipton sales graduate. Most recently, Weaver bought the New York-bred at the Midlantic 2-year-old sale for $100,000. He worked 4 furlongs on the main track in :48.12 from the gate Aug. 5. “He’s got some gas, he’s got some giddy up. We’re looking to make a race at the meet.”

Danzing Dunhill: Jim and Susan Hill own the 2-year-old named after one of his owners’ dogs. He has worked five times since coming to Weaver. Hopefully the dog Dunhill is more pleasant than this Dunhill, who pinned his ears and bobbed his head as Weaver passed by the front of his stall. “It comes from their dogs. They’ve got Brady, Dunhill, Tiffany. Big Twirling Candy (gelding). Not the nicest horse to be around.”

Bahamian Prince: Christoper Dunn owns the 2-year-old by Bahamian Squall claimed by Weaver for $50,000 from Kelly Breen Aug. 1. “We claimed him on a whim earlier in the meet. Little 2-year-old, got some gas. He’s all right but I can definitely see why Kelly Breen ran him for 50 first-time out. I might try one of the maiden auction races on the grass.”

Paynterbynumbers: Fasig-Tipton fall yearling sale graduate hasn’t raced since a sixth in Laurel Park’s Wide Country Stakes Feb. 16. West Point Thoroughbreds’ filly placed in three Aqueduct’s maidens before that. Daughter of Paynter got some time off at Fair Hill and returned to Weaver this month. She sports some scrapes on her forehead while standing in the stall just outside the shedrow. “She wanted to get in a war with the horse van on the way up here. She just came in. She showed a lot of talent early on. Ran some decent races and then tailed off and colicked. Now she’s back.”

Vekoma: Grade 2 Blue Grass and Grade 3 Nashua winner has not started since placing 12th in the Kentucky Derby. R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stable own the 3-year-old son of Candy Ride. When in front of the colt’s stall during a stable tour last year about a month before he won his debut, Weaver said: “Nice colt. He’s pretty fast. He can run.” This year: “He’s down there in Kentucky. Probably get him back sometime in September. He grabbed his foot really bad. We thought it was going to be a short-term fix but he needs to grow out his foot. He had a few other things that needed to be addressed, so we just called it a day. But, mainly the foot was what was holding us up.”