Foiled Again turns 200 Saturday night.
Well, not exactly. He's a spry 10 year old, but harness racing's richest-ever pacer makes his 200th career purse start in the second round of Yonkers Raceway's George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series.
He landed post position 4 in race 11, the evening's fourth and final Levy division. It appears a simple task, with Foiled Again the strongest third of Ron Burke-trained troika that opens at 3-5 on the morning line and figures to close much shorter than that.
With a to-date resume of 77 wins (including a pair of Levy titles), 49 seconds and 27 thirds ($6,055,968) in those first 199 starts—including a spiffy 1:52.1 effort as this series, and his season, began a week ago--Foiled Again's constant companion was asked about him.
"I first drove him as a 4 year old (June of 2008 at Harrah's Chester) after Ronnie (Burke) bought him,” Yannick Gingras said of the gelding who's made a million racing in this series alone.
"He won in 1:50, and I thought, ‘Alright, there's some talent there,' but if anyone said then he'd go on to win more than $6 million, I would have figured they were crazy.
"I don't think I fully appreciated the things he did when he was younger,” Gingras said. "To be associated with him has obviously been one of the highlights of my career. I've driven so many great horses, starting with ($2.9 million winner) Darlin's Delight, but I'd be shocked if another Foiled Again comes along.
"What makes him so good? His heart. He's not the biggest, he's certainly not the fastest, but he knows exactly what he's doing. Last week was the perfect example. I was loose-lining him until about halfway in the final turn. Then, he saw (Apprentice Hanover) coming and he swelled up. He knew it was time to go to work.
"He's the same way on the farm. He sort of loafs along then all of a sudden, a 26-second final quarter.”
Not even the Levy, a six-week grind that unceremoniously unforgiving on so many of its contestants either during the series or later in the season, seems to faze Foiled Again. Is he Levy-proof? "He's everything-proof,” Gingras said.
"I have to give Ronnie (Burke) so much credit. He sets a schedule for these horses, and they always make it. Sure, has can a tremendous stable (10 in the Levy series alone), but his program works. When the horses need time off, they get it. His horses last. Ten year olds are not supposed to do what Foiled Again is doing.”
This is not to suggest that "Foiled” is flawless. He does have an Achilles heel, or hoof, as the case may be.
"For whatever reason, he tends to tail off a bit in the summer. In June, July and August, he's just not the same horse. I used to make the mistake of thinking that maybe he's starting to slow down.
"I don't make that mistake anymore.” (Yonkers)