Little brothers often get overshadowed by big brothers. Such is the case with Bootstrap Yankee. But Bootstrap Yankee always will be a big part of the story when Frank Chick talks about getting possibly his best horse ever, Yankee Bounty.
Yankee Bounty is undefeated in six starts as he heads into Saturday's $260,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-old male pacers at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The gelding, who leaves from post 3 with Yannick Gingras driving for trainer Ron Burke, is the 2-1 morning line favorite.
Chick bought Yankee Bounty, a son of Yankee Cruiserand second foal out of the mare Bootleg Yankee, for $21,000 at the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale. He already owned Yankee Bounty's full brother, Bootstrap Yankee, whom he purchased for $2,000 at his own Chick's Sale in Delaware in 2012.
"(Yankee Bounty's) little brother--and I mean little--came through my sale in Harrington,” Chick said. "He was bred probably better than any horse that came through there, but he was a midget. But that little guy paced in (1):56 right before the Harrisburg sale. I thought if that little guy could go in (1):56, what could a full-sized one do? So I went and bought his brother.
"They looked very much similar, same attitude, same everything. I ended up coming away with him. It wasn't any rocket science. I was just lucky.”
Bootstrap Yankee has won only one of 21 races, but his 1:56.3 effort in a fourth-place finish at Harrington Raceway last October made a winner of Chick with Yankee Bounty. The family also includes stakes-winners Banner Yankee and Electric Yankee, plus Yankee Blossum, who is the dam of stakes-winner Lady Luvs Diamonds and second dam of stakes-winner Hurrikane Kingcole.
Chick and Scott Gregoire worked with Yankee Bounty through the winter and eventually turned the horse over to trainer Kevin Lare to begin his racing career.
"He was a pure natural,” Chick said. "The only thing we didn't do was mess him up, that's all. I'd like to say we did something really fine with him, but we just took care of him. I gave him to Kevin about the first of June and he finished him off. We didn't train him real tough. But he went a nice half here one day before we qualified and it kind of opened our eyes up. He's been just a dream. No problems at all.”
Yankee Bounty won his first three races comfortably before posting a 7-1/4 length victory in a division of the Arden Downs in a stakes-record 1:51.3 at The Meadows. The triumph caught the attention of Burke, who put together a partnership and bought into the horse at the end of July.
Since then, Yankee Bounty has won two more legs of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes series.
"I've been in it a long time and had a lot of horses and never had one quite as nice,” Chick said. "His very best quality is speed, but he's also so easy on himself. You could put him on the front end in a quarter of :26 or :27 seconds and he'll throttle right down and go the next quarter in :32 if you want. And he's got a wonderful gait. We saw it the first day we jogged him. Everyone (at Harrington) saw it too. Everyone thought he could be a nice one. We didn't know he was going to be this nice, but I think a lot of people looked at him and thought he's got something.”—By Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications