Day At The Track

Small horse has big job in Haughton Memorial

06:18 AM 13 Jul 2018 NZST
Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print
Dontellmeagain, harness racing Hat Trick Habit, harness racing
Dontellmeagain and driver Tim Tetrick
Lisa Photo
Hat Trick Hanover and trainer Scott DiDomenico
USTA photo

When it comes to the plight of Donttellmeagain, trainer Jim King Jr. could not put it any simpler.

"He's a small horse, and we've given him a big job," King said.

And the 4-year-old pacer is doing his job in every way possible, as King added, "He's meeting all expectations, and more."

As he readies for Saturday's $471,100 William R. Haughton Memorial, with a field of male pacers ages 4 and older at The Meadowlands, Donttellmeagain is a horse that captures the imagination. Everybody loves an underdog, and one look at "the little engine that could," as driver Tim Tetrick refers to him, makes people want to root for him.

The gelded son of Dragon Again out of Donttellmewhattodo, Donttellmeagain has won 15 of his 26 career starts. This season he has won two of six starts and is coming off a victory in the $250,000 Graduate Series final, restricted to only 4-year-olds, July 7 at The Meadowlands.

"He's a little guy and he's pretty personable, he's a friendly little fellow," King said. "Every time he goes to the track he shows up (to race). He never explodes out of the gate or anything like that. This last race, it was so out of character. All he's ever done was just run them down. Just point him toward them and he can just keep going. He's a come-from-behinder."

In the Graduate final, Donttellmeagain moved from fourth to first on the backstretch after the first quarter; then saw Miso Fast charge to the lead. The two raced 1-2 before Donttellmeagain came through in the stretch to win by a neck.

"Timmy just did what he needed to do, it was one of the most masterful drives I've ever seen in my life," King said. "The race didn't play out anything the way it went down on paper. For him to be able to do things different and change the plan and overcome and do things he's never done before was all really good.

"We were expecting to be in a position to be second- or third-over, hopefully second-over, it just didn't work out that way. For him to get away fourth and be sitting there behind a 95-1 shot, and to move up with Miso Fast, you're looking at a whole different outcome. Timmy won the race. He gave him the opportunity to win the race."

It marked the 24th time Donttellmeagain has finished in the money and pushed his career earnings to $426,460.

It's the classic cliche of the size of heart making up for lack of physical size.

"It's all determination," King said. "It's his will to win, it is just something they're born with. He's the kind you dream of getting ahold of. No matter what I do he's going to try to make it right. He's just a good horse."

King refused to take much credit, saying there is nothing he can actually do to make up for the horse's diminutive stature.

"It's all about him, it's all about him," said King, repeating it to make sure there's no mistake. "We're trying to be as kind to him as we can because it's a disadvantage being his size. But his determination makes up for it."

Donttellmeagain will use that determination to try and meet the challenge of older horses in the Haughton Memorial. The race is an extra one-eighth of a mile, rather than the standard one-mile distance, due to a 12-horse field, which King feels is an advantage.

"I find that to his liking, I know he has the stamina," the trainer said. "But this time he's facing the older horses, like he was in the (Ben Franklin Pace) and that's a different ballgame. I don't think he's the caliber of a horse as (Franklin winner) McWicked, who's just so powerful and seems to get better with age. If we get lucky, we can probably follow him around the track."

King has been handling Donttellmeagain for Jon and Wendy Paton since he was a 2-year-old. That year the owners decided to race him in the state-bred Pennsylvania Stallion Series while King had suggested he compete up a level in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. The horse won all four of his starts in the Stallion Series and, looking back, King admits it was the right move.

"I think it absolutely worked for the better," he said. "I thought he could go with (the Sire Stakes horses). I'm not sure he was as good as the very top ones, but I don't know that he wasn't either. But it ended up that he earned money, won races, and came back to be just a nicer horse, I think."

As a 3-year-old, Donttellmeagain placed in every start with eight wins, two seconds and four thirds for $169,738 in earnings. He was shut down after Sept. 17.

"That was our plan," King said. "He's very micro-managed. He's got issues so we picked the spots to go with him."

Whatever issues he has seem to be kept under control by the connections. Donttellmeagain is as placid off the track as he is ferocious on it.

"Any caretaker would like to take care of a horse like him, he's a real easy keeper," King said. "When you want him he comes to you all the time. He comes through the door all the time. He's not one to stay on the gate and command attention. He's just a real easy horse to be around."

And just as easy to cheer for those who love the little guy.

The Haughton is part of a card with the $701,830 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-old pacers, Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters, Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old female pacers, Golden Girls for older female pacers, two divisions of the Stanley Dancer Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters, two divisions of the Delvin Miller Memorial for 3-year-old female trotters, and two divisions of the Miss Versatility Series for older female trotters.

Seven of the top nine horses in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll will be in action: No. 1 Hannelore Hanover (Miss Versatility), No. 2 Shartin N (Golden Girls), No. 5 McWicked (Haughton), No. 6 Manchego (Miller), No. 7 Ariana G (Maturity), No. 8 Kissin In The Sand (Mistletoe Shalee), and No. 9 Wolfgang (Dancer).

For the complete Meadowlands card, click here.

For Meadowlands announcer Ken Warkentin's analysis of all the races, click here.

Following is the field for the William R. Haughton Memorial.

PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line
1-Check Six-Joe Bongiorno-Ron Burke-15/1
2-Mach It So-Scott Zeron-Jeff Bamond Jr.-15/1
3-Heaven Rocks A-David Miller-Ross Croghan-8/1
4-Filibuster Hanover-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-10/1
5-McWicked-Brian Sears-Casie Coleman-5/2
6-Donttellmeagain-Tim Tetrick-Jim King Jr.-7/2
7-Rockin Ron-Louis Roy-Ron Burke-10/1
8-Sintra-Jody Jamieson-Dave Menary-9/2
9-Boogie Shuffle-Andy Miller-Mark Harder-30/1
10-Dealt A Winner-Brett Miller-Mark Silva-20/1
11-All Bets Off-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-10/1
12-Western Fame-Andy McCarthy-Jimmy Takter-15/1

All Bets Off and Western Fame start from the second tier behind the horses in posts No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.

Hat Trick Habit impresses new connections heading to Hambletonian prep

Hat Trick Habit made his one chance at a first impression count.

The 3-year-old male trotter debuted for new owners John McGill and Brian Carsey and trainer Scott DiDomenico last weekend with a career-best 1:52.3 win at the Meadowlands Racetrack and could further stamp himself as a Hambletonian Stakes contender with another solid effort in Saturday's Stanley Dancer Memorial at the Big M.

"He was very impressive," DiDomenico said. "We were really happy with him. He trotted good, he looked good, and we're hoping for good things out of him."

A total of 16 horses entered the Dancer, which is for 3-year-old male trotters, and were divided into two $181,000 divisions. Hat Trick Habit and driver Tim Tetrick are in the first division, which also includes Goodtimes Stakes winner Wolfgang, who is the No. 1-ranked horse in Meadowlands analyst/announcer Ken Warkentin's Road to the Hambletonian. The group also includes No. 5 Evaluate and No. 8 Classichap.

Division two features Dan Patch Award-winner Fourth Dimension, O'Brien Award-winner Alarm Detector, once-beaten Six Pack, and last year's Peter Haughton Memorial champ You Know You Do. Six Pack is No. 2 in the Road to the Hambletonian, with Fourth Dimension third, Alarm Detector sixth and You Know You Do seventh. The race also includes No. 10 Samo Different Day.

Hat Trick Habit was acquired by McGill and Carsey at the end of June. The horse was owned previously by Fred Monteleone, who passed away in October.

For his career, Hat Trick Habit has won six of 14 races and earned $191,594. Of the five times he has failed to hit the board, three were in races that he went off stride. He finished fourth in the remaining two. The colt is a son of Donato Hanover out of Habit's Best. He is a half-brother to O'Brien Award-winning millionaire Habitat and his family also includes millionaire Civil Action.

"He has a lot of ability and he's very fast," DiDomenico said. "The biggest thing right now is to keep him in a routine where he's jogging happy and we're happy with the way he's going and to keep him manageable in the race. Watching the replays of him, it looks like he could get revved up and if you wrestled with him he would make breaks. We're trying to do our best to avoid that.

"He drove well (last weekend) and there was never really a tense moment, fortunately. We'll try to keep it going that way. If we can harness some of that ability there are big things in his future."

A winner of the Dancer has gone on to capture the Hambletonian three of the past five years: Marion Marauder, Pinkman, and Royalty For Life. The $1.2 million Hambletonian is Aug. 4 at the Meadowlands.

"If told you I didn't think about that I would be lying to you," DiDomenico said. "I think I've thought about it about 152 times. But we're going to take one week at a time. The Dancer is next and hopefully things just keep going the way they are."

The Dancer is part of a card with the $701,830 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-old pacers, two divisions of the Delvin Miller Memorial for 3-year-old female trotters, the William R. Haughton Memorial for older male pacers, Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters, Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old female pacers, Golden Girls for older female pacers, and two divisions of the Miss Versatility Series for older female trotters.

Seven of the top nine horses in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll will be in action: No. 1 Hannelore Hanover (Miss Versatility), No. 2 Shartin N (Golden Girls), No. 5 McWicked (Haughton), No. 6 Manchego (Miller), No. 7 Ariana G (Maturity), No. 8 Kissin In The Sand (Mistletoe Shalee), and No. 9 Wolfgang.

For the complete Meadowlands card, click here.

by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print

Read More News About...

Stallion Name

Next article in USA: