Mark Hennig was ready to get back home to Belmont Park. Not because he isn't a fan of Saratoga, but because he's got plenty of young prospects he hopes to run there this fall and where he'll get Merry Meadow ready for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
Merry Meadow booked her ticket to Keeneland for the Breeders' Cup with a victory in the Princess Rooney in July at Gulfstream Park. Seventh in the Grade 1 Ballerina on the Travers Stakes undercard, the 5-year-old Henny Hughes mare will get ideal spacing for her trip to Lexington if she stays on target.
Hennig's got one win at the meeting and is hoping to add to that total with several runners closing weekend. One more victory will also push his yearly purse total into the seven figures, marking the 23rd straight year the barn's racked up at least $1 million in earnings.
The last Thursday of the 2015 meet, with training complete and a new chair in his office, Hennig hosted The Special's Tom Law to talk about some of his horses at Saratoga, Belmont and Monmouth.
Merry Meadow: "She won the 'Win And You're In' at Gulfstream and even though she didn't win the other day we're still pointing toward the Breeders' Cup. She had a rough trip getting behind horses the other day, that's not really the way she wants to run. We'll re-adjust and hopefully get a piece of things in the Breeders' Cup. I don't know if I'll run her again. She runs well fresh. Ideally at her age she's best with the long break in between races. If you go back and look at her races, 60-plus days between her races, she's really good. Her race at Gulfstream that she won by quite a few in February came after a race in mid-December and then I ran her back short rest, a month between races, six weeks maybe and she didn't run any good. Then I gave her from the end of March until July and she ran lights out in the Princess Rooney."
Add Four: "Maiden homebred 2-year-old for Mark Grier. He was a good third first time (July 25, 5 1/2-furlong maiden special), closing, galloped out nice, probably was a little short for him but we were just getting started. Looking forward to stretching him out."
Baffle Me: "Didn't run here, she's been a hard-knocking mare. She's won a lot of races (eight), never won a graded stakes but we're fooling around and trying to get that done. I'm going to plan to run her in the Noble Damsel. We've got one or two more shots to get some graded black-type with her. She's made a lot of money but that would help her resume."
Cabo Cat: "He's in Saturday, two other than. He won a little stakes last year. He had some issues with his feet this winter and kind of had to back off on him. He's running himself back into shape. He was a good third here earlier in the meet with a less-than-ideal trip. He's one of those horses that needs some pace in front of him."
Flatware: "She's a New York-bred for DATTT Stable who ran here earlier, was fourth and came back and was third. I think she's just dying for more ground. I'm looking forward to running her at Belmont."
Predicate: "She's in Saturday. Paul Reddam's horse, ran here, ran well, kind of same as Cabo, needs a little bit of a setup and comes flying. Come-from-behind sprinter. She had a long break because she reared up in the shedrow, broke her withers off so we had to give her an extended period of time over the winter. She's come back strong."
Lucky Lurie: "He was a 2-year-old we were really looking forward to coming up here with. He won first out at Belmont, came back and was second in a stake at Belmont (Rockville Centre, July 18). He's got a bright future. We got up here and he just wasn't traveling right. I don't know if it was the change of surfaces or what, but we just decided to back off. Girolamo colt for Alan Brodsky."
Path Dependent:"He's in Friday, ran well here first out last year, had some hind-end issues and we gave him some time off over the winter. He came back and ran well here first start back (third in maiden special weight, Aug. 13). He's the morning-line favorite (in the first race, 5 ½-furlong turf maiden)."
Summersault: "She won here (maiden special weight, Aug. 14) and is entered for Sunday. She's the kind of filly that took awhile to break her maiden, was always hitting the board and I think she's got the idea. She's done well since she's gotten to Saratoga. Some horses blossom here and some don't."
Strike Charmer: "She's one we're picking up for Don Adam, when we get to Belmont. She won the Cardinal last fall at Churchill and has been on the shelf for a while. She ran at Churchill this spring (Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile May 2 and Grade 3 Mint Julep Handicap June 6) for David Carroll but has been off awhile. She's had a little break and is going to come back. We'll point her toward some of those fall stakes at Belmont. She's supposed to arrive shortly after we get there."
Cuantos: "He's a horse for Alan Brodsky who is a New York-bred, he won an a-other-than in 8 and change last fall. A loose horse this winter ran into him. My rider was out for five months and the horse has been out a little longer by the time he makes it back. He breezed a half-mile in (:47.40, the fastest of 81 Aug. 30) at Monmouth so he's coming back."
Table Talk: "He's a maiden in the second race Saturday for Lee Lewis. He's out of Mystic Lady, who I trained and made over a million dollars. She's had some useful horses and he's going to make his first start going long on the grass. She was very versatile, ran grass and dirt, but I breezed him on the grass the other day and he went well."
Analyze Dattt: "He's a New York-bred, brother to Regal Minister, who won a stakes last fall. He's a great big guy, Regal Minister could walk underneath him just about. We're pretty high on him, but he was too big to push. He was showing signs that he wanted us to back off and we did. If the meet went a little further we'd be able to make a start up here."
About Face: "She's a Blame filly that we bought last year for Mark Greer. She's doing well, a little slightly made filly and I kind of thought about giving her some time off because it seemed like she wanted some time. She's done well up here. She was a little high strung and was giving the signal she wanted me to back off on her, then I trained her on the Clare Court track for two weeks and she really has come around getting away from it all. When we took her back to the main she was better. I breezed her on the grass the other day and she breezed really well. If you saw her face you'd know what's why it's her name. She's got a white side and gray side. It looks like two faces almost."
Blithely: "She's a sister to Merry Meadow, had a little injury. We did a surgery on her and she's come back well. She's a 4-year-old."