Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Friday, Sept. 9

| Churchill Downs Communications | 09/09/2011 #

In Today's Notes: Hogy the Hope of Mettlers, Berndt in Arlington-Washington Futurity; Essence of Bubbles Bought to Toast Arlington-Washington Lassie; McPeek Runs Dream Pegasus in Lassie; Mourns Loss of Frazier

Alice and Stan Mettler started out as fledgling Thoroughbred owners with "three good ones," according to Mrs. Mettler, but that was more than 25 years ago. What followed was a long dry spell before their juvenile gelding Hogy came along this summer at Arlington Park under the guidance of trainer Joel Berndt.

Hogy, an altered son of Offlee Wild, will enter Saturday's co-featured Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity with a perfect three-for-three record, with the most recent win coming at Canterbury Park's $50,000 Brian Barenscheer Stakes for 2-year-olds on Aug. 14.

However, that win came over the dirt track at the Minnesota oval – a surface the youngster did not care for – but in Saturday's Futurity Hogy will be returning to the local Polytrack where he won his first two starts by a total of almost 12 lengths.

"I've been looking forward to running in the Arlington-Washington Futurity with this horse all summer," said Berndt, a native of Mobridge, South Dakota, who won the first training title of his Chicago-based career at Hawthorne last fall and then underlined that prowess with a second consecutive title at the Southside oval last spring. "I've trained some pretty nice horses in my time, but this is for sure the best 2-year-old I've ever had.

"We have the only horse going in to the Futurity that is three-for-three," Berndt said, "and that last published work (going a mile in 1:40.60 Aug. 27) was super. I blew him out a half on Monday but that move didn't show up on the tab. This horse has been maintaining his fitness all along.

"Concerning the mile run on Saturday," Berndt concluded, "I think he'll relish the added distance. I think that will be a positive – not a negative. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that everything stays the same as it is now until they go in the gate. The next goal for me in my own training career is to win a graded stakes, and hopefully I can accomplish that on Saturday."

As for the Mettlers, who started operating the jewelry store at the nationally tourist-famous Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota, about the time they started owning Thoroughbreds, some late developing circumstances will prevent them from attending Saturday's Futurity.

"We were looking forward to coming in for the race, but now I don't think we'll be able to," Mrs. Mettler said. "But obviously, we will be rooting for Hogy. The horse is named after one of my husband's old buddies who passed away some time ago. Hogy was his nickname."

Wall Drug, incidentally, is a shopping mall that became famous as a tourist attraction by posting billboards over hundreds of miles of highway throughout South Dakota and its neighboring states. The billboards advertised "free water."

"Wall Drug is quite a place to see," said Mrs. Mettler. "We get more than 15,000 visitors every day at Wall Drug in the summertime, and we're located in a town with only 800 people."

Richard Ravin's Essence of Bubbles, a 2-year-old daughter of Essence of Dubai out of a Silver Buck mare named Silver Champagne, was bought by her present ownership a few days after her third straight win in her most recent start on Aug. 25, and will now go to the post in Saturday's co-featured Grade III Arlington-Washington Lassie for 2-year-old fillies.

"She the newest acquisition to our barn," said Arlington trainer Larry Rivelli, who has led the local trainer standings throughout the northwestern suburban Chicago oval's season. "We bought her because of the fact that she beat boys in her last start, and we realize we're taking a shot with her in the Lassie, but she's just been doing fanastic since she came into my barn.

"In fact, I told (owner) Richie, if she's not doing fantastic I'm not going to run her," said Rivelli, "but she is."

Trainer Ken McPeek's Arlington week started off successfully when Magdalena Racing's Here Comes Frazier won Arlington's seventh race on Labor Day Monday, and he hopes to end with another success by winning Saturday's Arlington-Washington Lassie with Dream Pegasus, owned by Living The Dream Racing 2010 LLC.

The horse Here Comes Frazier was renamed by McPeek less than a week before his winning career debut Monday in memory of Bruce Frazier, a longtime Arlington owner who also had partial ownership in the horse but died suddenly shortly before the horse's first race.

"The loss of Bruce was a tough one," said McPeek, "but to have a horse like that turn out to be as good as he is makes me real proud that he will carry on the name.

"As for Dream Pegasus, she'd been a good filly from the beginning," said McPeek of his Lassie runner. "She acts like she could be any kind, and I'm anxious to see how she run on Polytrack Saturday. She has a great turf pedigree."