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October 9, 2009

Tricky Me Takes On Monmouth Park

He gives owner Harold Via a reason to celebrate.

Tricky Me is becoming quite the apt pupil.

Since breaking his maiden in May at Iroquois (Tenn.) for trainer Jack Fisher, Tricky Me has had to fill the shoes of Sonny Via’s injured superstar Good Night Shirt and carry Via’s stable.

This summer, Tricky Me ran fourth and second in novice stakes races at Saratoga Springs (N.Y.), but at Monmouth Park, Sept. 26, he stepped up and put on his best performance yet to win the $70,000 Metcalf Memorial Novice Hurdle Stakes in Oceanport, N.J.

Ridden by William Dowling, Tricky Me took on several summer champions and bested them all by 2 lengths.

The bay gelding, a 4-year-old son of the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Unbridled’s Song, was sold at the Keeneland (Ky.) yearling sales to Jayeff B Stables for the tidy sum of $525,000. He raced for trainer Alan Goldberg, and in three previous starts at Monmouth on the flat, his best finish was a third in a maiden contest. When his flat career didn’t match his pedigree, he came up for sale again.
 
“It’s nice to have another horse to wear The Shirt’s colors,” Dowling said. “He ran his heart out at [Iroquois] in that deep going, so I knew he was nice. But each race he’s run he has learned something and gotten better. He had a bad last fence in August and ended up second that day, but at Monmouth he jumped on the front end, and every fence was flawless.”

Dowling added, “Even the [other riders] later said to me they tried to get to him, but he was out-jumping their horses every fence.”

With such improvement, Dowling said Fisher is pointing him to Far Hills (N.J.), Oct. 17.

“He seems to like any turf conditions,” Dowling said. “So I don’t see the soft going being an issue.”

Schooling Session

Mrs. George Ohrstrom Jr.’s Four Schools set the pace in the $50,000 Haskell Memorial hurdle and never relinquished the lead, even when Kenneth Ramsey’s gray Slip Away (Ross Geraghty) challenged him in the stretch.

Jockey Robert Walsh said the race unfolded perfectly for them.

“I was going to go if no one else did, that was the plan all along,” Walsh said. “Slip Away and my horse were the only pace. He didn’t go, and mine was very happy on the front end. He settled in, relaxed and even had a few breathers. I knew they were all there, but I had still had plenty of horse.”

Won in a coin toss after three trainers tried to claim him simultaneously, Four Schools’ progress has pleased trainer Richard Valentine, but he said the horse still needs certain races.

“To be realistic, I’m not sure about the longer distance [of a race like Far Hills],” Valentine said. “I think we will
go to [the International Gold Cup (Va.)], then maybe the Noel Laing at Montpelier [Va.]. I think those could be his kind of races.”

New Addition

Trainer Tom Voss seems to have found a full-time stable jockey to replace retired Padge Whelan.

Voss shipped Irishman Peter Buchanan in for summer racing, but Buchanan had to return to his rides in the United Kingdom. Now he has Buchanan’s fellow countryman Ross Geraghty, and the jockey wasted no time winning two races and placing in the money at second, twice.

His first win of the day came in the $30,000 sport of kings maiden hurdle with Dumbarton Farm’s Easy Red.

“He’s a nice type of horse, jumps forward and has plenty of class,” Geraghty said. “He had a good turn of foot.”

He then won with Alnoff Stable’s Ground Frost in the $30,000 New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemens Association colt and gelding flat.

The 32-year-old has won 76 races in nine years, including The Irish Grand National Chase in 2002 with The Bunny Boiler. He rides mostly for his father, National Hunt trainer Tucker Geraghty, and John Fowler.

A tip from former steeplechase jockey Calvin McCormick first led Geraghty to Voss.

“Calvin said if there is any stable to start with over here, it was with Mr. Voss,” Geraghty said. “I am very adaptable. I have ridden a lot of horses, and Mr. Voss certainly has some very nice ones.”

Geraghty plans to stay until the season ends, then return home for stag hunting and more racing. He is even interested in a little timber racing next spring.

“I’d jump it in a sidesaddle if Mr. Voss asked me too,” he said.

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