Jim Bond likes to stick to the advice given by his father many years ago. (Originally published in Aug. 22 issue of The Saratoga Special)
“Don’t get in their way,” Harold Bond, a trainer at Finger Lakes, told his son. “Let them do it. They’ll carry you there, you just have to let them.”
Bond, also a Harold by name, made a career out of letting his horses take him places and along the way he’s won two Whitneys, a Travers, Met Mile, Wood Memorial, Donn Handicap and six other Grade 1 stakes. He’s won 1,136 races in his career that started when he took over for his ailing father in the 1970s, including six at the current Saratoga meet.
Assisted by his sons Ryan and Kevin, Bond counts his wife Tina and the family’s Bond Racing Stable, longtime supporter Bill Clifton, new patron Avanti Stable and several others on the barn’s list of clients. Nine sets of jockey silks hang from a fence outside Bond’s private barn on Gridley Street.
“We’re very fortunate,” Bond said. “Great clients send you good horses and hopefully we just don’t screw it up. That’s the bottom line.
“All of our clients are really nice people, they love their horses. When owners love their horses they give you that extra boost of confidence to do the right thing. They’re just like children. Some learn fast, some learn slow, and you have to be a good teacher.”
After he finished up training a late set on the Oklahoma Training Track – where runners sporting the trademark “007” saddlepads from spring through the fall – Tuesday morning, Bond went through some of his string with The Special’s Tom Law.
Rinaldi: Purchased by Bond Racing Stable for $5,000 as a weanling at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga fall mixed sale, 3-year-old son of Posse ran record to 2-for-3 with victory in Cab Calloway division of New York Stallion Series Stakes July 24. “He’s been our key horse so far. He’s been a lot of fun. We’re pointing him for the Saranac. He’s got to step it up again but he’s answered the call a couple times now. I had his sister, Hot And Spicy, she was a nice filly and she beat the Horse of the Year in Canada, Lexie Lou, (when second in the Fury Stakes in 2014). Hopefully he can carry it on a little more. I hate to do this the fourth start of his life, but he seems to have a lot of talent. You’ve got to find out how far they can go so we’ll carry on.”
Way Smart: Homebred 5-year-old Tizway mare for Mandaclair Stable and Bond Racing Stable won allowance here Aug. 4. She’s 2-for-9 with two seconds and a third for $128,132. “Nice filly. Tizelle’s full sister. Just all heart. She’s probably a better miler. Of course the circumference here is 5 1/2 or a mile. There were no miles in the book, I had her ready for six, seven weeks to run and that family has been so good to us. They all run. You lead them over. We’ll go back to Belmont, find something one turn again around a mile and keep our fingers crossed.”
Giacosa: Two-year-old full sister to Way Smart. She worked a half in :52.73 on the Oklahoma Aug. 5. “She’s as exciting as can be. She’s had a couple halves.”
Our Way: Bill Clifton’s 6-year-old Tizway gelding won the 2016 Better Talk Now, 2017 Sunshine Million Turf and a waiver claiming race here Aug. 3. He’s won five of 17 and $317,934. “Special horse. He has issues but he has a heart as big as this state. He’s a neat horse. I told Jose the day before, ‘this one, he’s going to win.’ He tells you when he’s ready to be led over. I made a mistake, ran him over at Tampa and a little too far. I thought being a Florida-bred that maybe we could still beat them but we ran into a buzzsaw (March To The Arch) and it was too far, bad trainer job period. We have to pick our spots with him.”
Zealous: Clifton’s 5-year-old Tiznow gelding improved to 2-for-11 with victory in starter allowance here July 18. “Really handy Tiznow. Big, big horse. He’s one of those I have to be a little gentle with sometimes, back off. He had a winter for us, ran really hard all winter and just needed a break. We freshened him up for the meet here. There’s no spot for him back. He worked (Monday) and we’ll look for a race in New York for him.”
Andretta: Bond Racing’s 5-year-old Freud mare broke her maiden going 5 ½ furlongs on the grass against state-breds July 19 then finished fifth in allowance company Aug. 15. “Her nickname in the barn is Mighty Mouse. She’s not the biggest horse in the barn but she has a special want. She’s just like her mother. She made $200,000 the hard way and she was guts all the time. More of a dirt horse. She’s a Freud of course. She’s not the prettiest filly, not the tallest filly but her whole body is heart. She ran back at the meet and had a course that was very hard and she did not like it. Good thing, bad thing is she’s ok, bad thing is we’re not going 5 1/2 back at Belmont. She loves that 5 1/2. We’ll have to drop her down a bit and see where she winds up.”
Mister Bobby: Avanti Stable’s 3-year-old New York-bred Shanghai Bobby gelding broke his maiden via DQ of Champagne Chills dropping from maiden special to $40,000 maiden claiming July 26. “Relatively new account for us. Nice people, local people from Saratoga. They sold two very nice horse at the sale, an Into Mischief and a Tiznow and did very well. They have a beautiful little farm in Greenfield. Short story is we foal their mares at our farm. They were kind enough to give us some horses to train, the first one was Mister Bobby. He was a little hard-headed the first start of his life so he got the ultimate equipment change, which always helps. He still wasn’t as good as I’d like him to be in the paddock but he got put up through a DQ. He was going by. He thinks he won, he did win, check is cashed. He might come back at the end of the meet in an off-the-turfer possibly. Don’t want to be too ambitious because we’re coming out of a 40.”
Competitive Cloud: Mister Bobby’s younger 2-year-old half brother by Competitive Edge. He breezed a half from the gate in company in :52.67 on the Oklahoma Monday. “He’s showing us a lot. He’s a nice horse. He may come out with a ‘G’ by his name though, he’s starting to act a little bit boyish. Like brother like brother.”
Lucky Girl: Avanti’s homebred 2-year-old by Lookin At Lucky breezed in company with Competitive Cloud. “Lookin At Lucky, not a bad sire to have in the barn and she’s out of a nice Holy Bull mare. She shows me a lot of poise and a lot of class.”
Letterman: Clifton’s 5-year-old Hard Spun gelding finished second for $30,000 tag going 1 mile on the inner turf July 27. He’s 1-for-5 with earnings of $33,438. “Our unlucky horse at the meet. He’s one of those horses that just finds trouble. He’s just a tough character and gets too rank. We’ve tried everything, rider-wise on him. Junior (Alvarado) does a great job on him but he’s a tough horse to ride. He gets in the game and it’s like ‘look out, I’m going through you, over the top of you.’ He causes his own trouble. He ran second here and probably should have won by 5. That’s Letterman.”
Cerretalto: Bond homebred 5-year-old Tizway gelding is 4-for-12 with $177,225 in earnings. He finished third in 6-furlong optional on the main track, running for $40,000 tag, Aug. 8. “House horse. He ran a good third here the other day. The outside post really bothered him. I have to give him a lot of breaks, but when I do he seems to come back and we get a lot out of him. Then we have to send him back home, take a break. That’s OK, as long as they’re safe and sound we’re happy.”
Wild William: Phoenix Stable and Mauren Edwards campaign 4-year-old New York-bred Freud colt in partnership. A $39,000 RNA at 2016 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred sale, he’s finished second three times in nine starts and earned $49,320. “Second early in the meet (July 14) then eighth (Aug. 7), should run back. Broke in the air and spotted the field last time. We had beaten the winner the start before. He’ll run back if we stay on the turf toward the end of the meet. Probably should be tough.”
Queenofeverything: Owned by partnership of Sportsmen Stable, Bond Racing and Monarch Farm, 4-year-old Pomeroy filly finished second in state-bred maiden at 6 furlongs on the main track in her fourth start July 28. “We’re hoping to get her back in. They had a race the other day, it came up a little short and they might bring it back.”
Grand Banks: Thomas Thienel’s two-time winner and $140,8460-earner finished fifth in allowance here July 14 and seventh for $35,000 tag on the grass Aug. 16. “She blew a shoe the first jump out of the gate the other day. Lost all chance. She’s got a nice sister that we like.”
Canyon Ready: Bred by Thienel and offered by the Bond family’s Song Hill Thoroughbreds but not sold on a $220,000 bid at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale, 2-year-old More Than Ready filly shows two 3-furlong breezes on the Oklahoma dirt on her tab. “She’s a half to Grand Banks. We’re very excited about her.”
Argonne: Clifton’s 4-year-old son of Tizway won three in a row before 10th in Grade 2 Bowling Green here July 27. “He’s a nice horse. Got thrown to the wolves in basically was a Grade 1. Very, very tough race, everyone was ducking Bricks And Mortar so everybody went in the Bowling Green. If Junior (Alvarado) had to do it over again we would have been really close to Luis Saez, who just stole the race on the front end (with Channel Cat). We made a middle move that cost us probably everything. I don’t think you’ve seen the end of this horse yet. He’s a really gorgeous mover, just wants to please you, a true racehorse. His name comes from Mr. Clifton’s grandfather, who was in the battle of Argonne and he won the Purple Heart for saving so many men in the battle, went back less than five years ago to see it one more time and died of a heart attack there. So Mr. Clifton named him Argonne. That’s heavy stuff. The last time he did that was Behrens. That was his family’s company for like 100 years. Mr. Clifton names horses well as you know. He takes a lot of pride and time in it. I’m looking at the Knickerbocker on Oct. 12. It’s a mile and an eighth. A mile-and-an-eighth, mile-and-a-quarter is where his true number is.”
Prioritize: Clifton’s 4-year-old by Tizway won an optional on the turf here last summer and looks to get back after being off the board in three starts in 2019. He finished eighth in turf optional here July 27. “He’s just been unlucky. No pace. He needs a pace to come into. This poor horse just can’t get the pace. The other day he ran here and they had just taken the rails down and Dylan Davis, who rode him very well last year, I put him back on the horse. The poor kid did nothing wrong but when he swung him out he wound up in the patch that they had just basically been dug up for however long and he had nowhere to go. That’s what he had to do and you could just see the horse running through a plowed field. Everybody else was running on the good golf course. You say, ‘boy, the poor horse’ and that’s all you say. We’re kind of regrouping. That’s the game of horse racing.”
Brunate: Bond homebred 2-year-old colt by Normandy Invasion is out of the Raffie’s Majesty mare Gattinara, who won four races and $197,760 for the family from 2006 to 2010. “He from the first crop of Normandy Invasion, a very good horse and a good looking horse. He was a New York stallion and they took him back to Spendthrift. He’s a half to Cathy Naz and half to Andretta. He’s got some poise and class. His works have been really, really outstanding. Well in hand. He gives you a feeling that he might be OK. He’s an early foal, which I kind of like to have for running as 2-year-olds. We’ll see.”
Pleasant Breeze: Yes, Pleasant Breeze. Now 24, son of Pleasant Tap holds down duties as the pony and big horse honors in the barn. “The most important horse in the barn. As most people would remember he won the Saratoga Cup, Meadowlands Cup, finished second to Golden Missile in the Pimlico Special, second in the Gulfstream Park Handicap and second by a nose in the Clark. Should have won that one. He’s still doing very well. He goes back and forth to Florida with us as the stable pony. He still is by far the most important horse in the barn. He gets whatever he wants. We stop the truck on the way down to South Carolina and he gets to stay overnight. I don’t want to ship him 24 hours straight to Florida. We have him on a certain load, that truck rests for the night. If we all had his life. He’s as beautiful as he was the day we led him over for all those races. Makes you proud to have horses like him.”