Day At The Track

Graber hopes his 'Caviar' is top shelf

07:10 AM 24 Apr 2019 NZST
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At the age of 81, Dan Graber says he’s been “up and down the pike a few times.” What he’s never been, at least to this point, is on the road to the Hambletonian. The Indiana resident is hoping this could be the year with his homebred trotter DG’s Caviar, who is undefeated in three races this season at Harrah’s Hoosier Park.

DG’s Caviar is the 1-5 morning-line favorite in Wednesday’s $15,000 final of the Cardinal Series at Hoosier. Graber knows it’s a long way from a conditioned series for non-winners of one race to the sport’s premier event for 3-year-old trotters, but DG’s Caviar has impressed him from day one.

“I can’t believe what kind of horse I got,” said Graber, who lives in Shipshewana and has been around horses since his childhood. “I started jogging him (just prior to him turning age 2) and I saw right away he was something special. It was just the way he went, and he wanted to go, and he was absolutely perfectly gaited.

“I like the way he’s built and the way he can go. He’s a beautiful horse and he’s smart. He’s a nice horse. Everybody likes him. He’s a perfect mannered horse except for one thing; he doesn’t like you to play with his ears. I have a certain way I have to get the bridle on him. Other than that, he’s perfect.”

DG’s Caviar is a son of Graber’s stallion Prime Time Caviar, who passed away two years ago, and his 20-year-old mare Dazzling Kosmos, who is no longer able to be bred. Graber also was the breeder of Prime Time Caviar, who won five races and had a mark of 1:57.2 despite battling health issues in his limited career.

“He was a much faster horse than his record,” Graber said.

Graber was introduced to Standardbreds when his father bought a retired pacer for the family’s 200-acre farm.

“We farmed with horses,” said Graber, who grew up Amish. “We used to breed our buggy mare to the stallion, Herbert Patch. They were tough.”

When he was in his early 20s, Graber drove in a harness race for the first time at a county fair.

“I was working in construction and quit my job,” Graber said. “I had this pacing mare, Patsys Blue Ribbon. In our first race, I was in front at the half but I got beat.

“The next day, I was back at my construction job,” he added, laughing.

Graber continued in the construction business for a while before embarking on a 55-year career as a farrier. He also continued to drive in races, until 2015, and train horses on his own half-mile track. The only horse he has trained in the past two years is DG’s Caviar.

“I’ve had a lot of experience in this business, both shoeing and training,” Graber said. “I’ve been up and down the pike a few times.”

Last year, DG’s Caviar went off stride in all three of his races, but was discovered to have an undescended testicle, which was removed.

“People told me the best thing I could do for the horse was to turn him out and let him mature and develop,” Graber said. “It was hard for me to do, but I did it, and I got a nice horse.”

So far this year, DG’s Caviar has won each of his starts by a minimum of 2-3/4 lengths. His best win time of 1:56 is tied for 22nd among all 3-year-old trotters this season.

In addition to the $1 million Hambletonian Stakes, DG’s Caviar is eligible to the Old Oaken Bucket, Circle City, and Indiana Sire Stakes.

“Hopefully he can get to the Hambletonian, but he’s going to have to prove himself before that happens,” Graber said. “Naturally I’d like to keep on winning. That’s what everybody wants, right? I hope he keeps right on going.”

Racing begins at 6:30 p.m. (EDT) Wednesday at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. The card also includes the finals of the Mya Tri and Chad E. Carlton Trotting Series plus the second appearance of the year for 2017 Breeders Crown champion Fiftydallarbill in the Open Trot. For complete entries, click here.

 

Ken Weingartner

Media Relations Manager

U.S. Trotting Association

www.ustrotting.com

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