As the 2013 harness racing season came to a close, the then 3-year-old Captaintreacherous headed to the Meadowlands for a race against the sport's best older male pacers. Although "TheCaptain” finished sixth in that race -- the $512,000 TVG Free for AllChampionship won by ageless Foiled Again -- trainer Tony Alagna was happy withwhat he saw.
Now as the 4-year-old Captaintreacherous gets ready to compete regularly in the older division, Alagna remains pleased. Captaintreacherous returned to Alagna's stable in February after two months of R&R at Brittany Farms in Kentucky and is being pointed toward a June return to action.
"He matured a lot from the time he was turned out,” Alagna said. "He grew some more, he put on some more muscle tone. When we sent him to Brittany he was still in very good condition, flesh-wise and weight-wise, for as hard as he raced. When he came back in, he just put on more bulk. He looked tremendous when he came in.
"Right now we're shooting to qualify sometime at the end of May or the first part of June. We'll set up his schedule after we qualify, but we'll probably aim for the Meadowlands Maturity (on June 13). I'm very happy with his progress. You can just see that maturity and how much he's changed with just 60 days turned out. It's really amazing. I'm excited, very excited.”
Captaintreacherous won 13 of 16 races and $2.05 million last season and received his second consecutive Pacer of the Year Award. His wins included the Breeders Crown, North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Max Hempt Memorial, Cane Pace and American-National Stakes.
Trained by Alagna and driven by Tim Tetrick for the Captaintreacherous Racing ownership group,The Captain joined Rocknroll Hanover and Gallo Blue Chip as the only horses to win the Breeders Crown, North America Cup, and Meadowlands Pace in the same season.
Captaintreacherous became the first horse to win back-to-back Pacer of the Year honors since Jenna's Beach Boy in 1995-96 and joined Niatross as the only horses to accomplish the feat at ages 2 and 3 since the award was first given in 1970.Pacer Bret Hanover was honored at ages 2, 3 and 4 with the Horse of the YearAward from 1964-66.
Undefeated female trotter Bee A Magician received the 2013 Horse of the Year Award over Captaintreacherous and Foiled Again.
"Of course you want to be Horse of the Year, but he got Pacer of the Year and I thought he deserved it,” Alagna said. "He put the best resume together for the entire year. No other pacer put together as complete a resume at (age) 2 or at 3 when he won the award. No horse compiled a whole year like he did.
"Bee A Magician is a phenomenal filly and it was a great year for racing. I think this past year, when you had Captaintreacherous and Bee A Magician and I Luv The Nitelife and Foiled Again and Father Patrick -- there were so many great stories. You can go down the list. It was a great year for harness racing and I was just glad to be part of it. It's exciting.”
Captaintreacherous' push for Horse of the Year likely would have received a boost with a win in theTVG final, but he finished sixth, beaten by only two lengths. He was trying to become the first prominent 3-year-old male pacer in more than 30 years to defeat older rivals in a stakes-caliber event.
"Even though he didn't win, he was only beaten two lengths for the victory after a hard 3-year-old campaign,” Alagna said. "I was happy to gauge where he fit against that bunch at the end of the year.
"We knew it wouldn't be easy. We had confidence and faith in our horse and hoped he'd win,but we weren't going to dodge the opportunity to do something that was good for the industry as well. All the positive feedback that we received after therace; (ownership managing partner) Myron Bell can tell you stories about all the people who contacted him and thanked him for putting the horse in that race. That says something.”
Captaintreacherousnow joins Foiled Again, Golden Receiver and the rest of the sport's top older pacers in a star-studded division. Foiled Again was Pacer of the Year in 2011and is the division's three-time defending champion. With $6.05 million in career purses, the 10-year-old is the richest harness racing horse in North American history.
"You have to admire Foiled Again,” Alagna said. "I see him every day out here at the farm. He's just an amazing athlete. He's a great horse and he's fun to watch.”
Alagna is ready to join the fun with Captaintreacherous.
"I haven't raced a horse like this, as far as the older division, since Lis Mara,” Alagna said,referring to the sport's top older male pacer of 2006, who he helped condition while second trainer for the Erv Miller Stable. "I have great memories of racing Lis Mara, going to places and how much the fans appreciate the older division. It's going to be exciting.”--By Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications