As the owner of a breeding farm, Mike Gulotta would seem an unlikely candidate to buy a horse that was gelded.
But when longtime horse agent Gerry Bloch called Gulotta about gelded 3-year-old pacer Somewhere In LA, Gulotta knew he had to listen.
After all, it was Bloch who directed Gulotta to a 4-year-old pacer named Lis Mara in 2006. Lis Mara, who had earned $180,536 entering that season, banked $1.96 million the rest of his career and was the Dan Patch Award winner for best older male pacer in 2006.
So far, Gulotta is happy he listened to Bloch and partnered with J&T Silva Stables and TLP Stable to buy Somewhere In LA on June 1. Since then, Somewhere In LA has won four of eight races, finished second in the Delvin Miller Adios, and earned $186,373.
"The fact (Somewhere In LA) was a gelding gave me some pause, but I thought that if Gerry was recommending the horse, I needed to pay attention,” said Gulotta, who is the CEO of Deo Volente Farms in New Jersey. "I have a great deal of respect for Gerry. He's found a number of horses for me, so when he calls, I have to listen.
"I think this horse is pretty special. He's a fast horse that can take a lot of air. I think he's getting better and better.”
Somewhere In LA races Friday in the first of two $99,990 Pennsylvania Sires Stakes divisions at The Meadows. He will start from post seven with driver Dave Palone at the lines for trainer Jimmy Takter. Also in the race is Adios champion McWicked, who leaves from post four with David Miller driving for trainer Casie Coleman.
A son of Somebeachsomewhere, Somewhere In LA is the first foal out of the stakes-winning mare West Of LA. She is a half-sister to millionaire Thinking Out Loud and stakes-winner You See LA.
Somewhere In LA was bred and owned by Robert McIntosh Stables, CSX Stables, and Al McIntosh Holdings before the sale to Gulotta's group. Last year, he won three of 11 races, including a division of the Nassagaweya Stakes, and earned $71,831.
He enters Friday's Pennsylvania Sires Stakes start with three wins in his last four races. His only setback during that span came by one length to McWicked in the Adios, and Somewhere In LA is coming off a victory over older horses in the preferred on Aug. 22 at The Meadows.
"Jimmy is doing a great job with him,” Gulotta said. "I thought if he had a better trip in the Adios, he would have been right there with McWicked. He was on the outside a long time.”
Gulotta is hoping for a long and prosperous career for Somewhere In LA, noting the earning potential for gelding pacers while making reference to Foiled Again, harness racing's richest all-time North American performer.
"What's wrong with making $6 million,” Gulotta said, laughing. "(Buying Somewhere In LA) fits from a business perspective. He can bolster our finances.”
Tom Pontone, who along with his father, Lou, makes up TLP Stable, was unaware the horse was a gelding when he committed to be a partner. He was given the chance to leave the group, but decided to stay on board.
"I thought he was going to do good,” Pontone said. "I saw his stakes schedule and we have the opportunity to get back our money this year. And I love owning horses with Mike because he's like a brother to me. I told Mike I think we're going to have a little fun with him.
"He's turned out to be a pretty good buy for us so far. He's a tough horse and he keeps on trying. That's the one thing I liked about him. He's had some tough races where he's had to come first up, but he never stops. He just keeps on going right down to the wire. He never gives up.”
If all goes well, Somewhere In LA will go to the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes championship on Sept. 7 at Harrah's Philadelphia, then head to the Little Brown Jug on Sept. 18 at the Delaware County Fair in Ohio. Somewhere In LA is the No. 3-ranked horse in the Road to the Little Brown ratings, behind Meadowlands Pace winner He's Watching and McWicked.
None of the current owners of Somewhere In LA have had a horse win the Little Brown Jug.
"It would be a thrill,” Gulotta said. "It would be a dream come true. Even with a gelding.” (HRC)