Trainer Mike Deters is uncertain of Prairie Jaguar's future, in part because he didn't expect the present.
Prairie Jaguar, a 6-year-old gelding pacer, has won five of six races this season--and nine of his last 10 dating back to December--as he prepares for Saturday's start of the Whata Baron Series at Meadowlands Racetrack. Prairie Jaguar is in the second of two $22,500 divisions, with Jim Morrill Jr. listed to drive.
A son of the stallion Spy Hard, Prairie Jaguar raced a total of only four times at ages 2 and 3 because of sickness and physical maturity issues. When he reached the races on a full-time basis as 4-year-old, he was green but flashed speed in a 1:51.2 triumph at Pompano Park.
Deters sent the horse to race in Canada because he better fit the conditions there than at Pompano. Prairie Jaguar apparently didn't care for the move, winning only twice in 43 starts north of the border. When he returned to Florida in December, he got hot.
"It's a who-knew type of deal,” Deters said. "We thought he was a pretty nice horse when he won in (1):51.2 here, but he had no luck in Canada. I don't know what it was, but it just didn't work out. He came back and got back on our program and the next thing you know, here he comes.
"Some of it is probably maturity. You just never know. I just try to make the horses happy.”
Prairie Jaguar had a nine-race win streak snapped last Saturday by a fifth-place finish at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Prairie Jaguar, driven by George Napolitano Jr., was beaten by 2 3/4 lengths by Sparky Mark in 1:51.2 over a sloppy track.
"He raced OK,” Deters said. "He went from very nice weather to very poor weather and the (race) bike was a little too small for him. George said it was long enough, but it was a little too tight and he couldn't really drive the horse. But he still paced (1):52 on a bad night.”
Deters, who since October has shared ownership of Prairie Jaguar with original owner Laurie Lee Poulin, is hopeful his horse will bounce back in the Whata Baron Series. Prairie Jaguar, who earlier this year became the first horse in Pompano Park history to win at least four races in 1:50 or less, will start from post two in his division.
Joining Prairie Jaguar in the second division are K-lees Shakenbake, Scott Rocks, Mindset, Summer Smackdown, Captive Audience, Kg Dragonator, He Rocks The Moon, Burkentine Hanover, and Jeremes General. The first division is Wake Up Peter, Sky Is The Limit, Fateful Choice, Ima Giggity Fool, Santanna One, Dew N Doughnuts, River Run For Ryan, Alexa's Jackpot, and Americhi.
The second leg of the Whata Baron Series is April 12 and the $75,000 estimated final is April 19.
"My fingers are crossed,” Deters said. "I hope he shows up. I think he will. There are some nice horses in there, but I think he's a nice horse too. I think he's got a chance to be very competitive.”
As for the future beyond the Whata Baron Series, nothing is set.
"He's not penciled in for anything,” Deters said. "We'll race him around and if he turns out to be good we'll find some things for him.
"He's just been a pleasure,” the trainer added. "He's a big, strong horse, but he's a gentle giant. A child could take care of him. But when you turn to the (starting) gate, he knows it's time for business.” (HRC)