Sunday, August 30, 2009

Two Notch Road Wins

Glenn Thompson, who trains racehorses out of the Whitney racing barn all winter, had a nice victory in the $60,000 Continental Mile Stakes at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey on August 15. Two Notch Road, a 2-year-old colt he owns and trains, took the lead in mid-stretch and then cruised to a 11/4 length victory over the turf.

Glenn was not overcome with surprise by the win, but the public was. Two Notch Road went off at 107-1 and paid $216.40 at the betting windows: the local newspaper called the victory a "shocker." This was the colt's fourth start and his first victory. In fact, before the Continental Mile, he had never been closer than sixth. In his last race before the stakes race, he was beaten by 27 lengths.

But Glenn knew the colt and had faith. He had already trained Two Notch Road's older sister, and he knew that she was about 20 lengths better over the turf than she was on the dirt. Glenn had wanted to run the colt on the grass from the beginning, but America is not big on turf races, and there are few of them written for 2-year-old horses. The Continental Mile, in fact, was the first turf opportunity that came up. Even so, the colt almost didn't make it to the post.

"I'm a bit of a dreamer and I always shoot high with my horses," says Glenn. "I had two choices on what to enter him in. One was the stakes race, and the other was a $25,000 claiming race about a week before. I thought I would be prudent, so rather than shoot for the moon, I entered him in the claiming race. I didn't worry that someone would take him because of his terrible last start. But on the way to the post in that race, he threw his rider, ran to the three-quarter pole, dropped his head and started eating grass. I thought that he was telling me he wanted to be on the grass."

The stewards scratched Two Notch Road from the claiming race because of his bad behavior. Just over a week later, he was in the Continental Mile winner's circle.

"It's nice when it all falls together," says Glenn. "I can't remember the last time I won a turf race."

Two Notch Road has a bit of a romantic history. He was orphaned at birth. Then, as a yearling last fall, he was entered in the Fasig Tipton Sale at the Timonium Fairgrounds in Maryland. With the economy in uncertain shape, the year 2008 was not great for selling racehorses. Those without stellar connections were going very cheap. Glenn noticed that the bidding on the colt was practically nonexistent. He trained horses for the breeders, was familiar with the colt and with his lineage, and knew he had potential. So he bought him for $2,500. Not a bad price tag for a future stakes winner.

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