There will always be a special place in Montrell Teague's heart for Custard The Dragon. The pacer was the first open stakes winner driven by Teague, who in 2011 guided the then 3-year-old colt to wins in the Max C. Hempt Memorial and Hoosier Cup. Teague and Custard The Dragon also won an Adios elimination with a world-record performance before finishing second to favorite Alsace Hanover in the final.
Now, Teague is enjoying the ride with one of Custard The Dragon's offspring, 3-year-old Henry The Dragon. The colt has won seven of eight career races and is 2-for-2 this season as he heads to Thursday's second round of the Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund series for 3-year-old male pacers at Dover Downs.
Henry The Dragon is owned by George Teague Jr. Inc., which bred the colt with Elmer Fannin. Clyde Francis trains Henry The Dragon, who is out of the broodmare Surveille Hanover.
"He reminds me so much of Custard," Montrell Teague said. "He's just got the perfect attitude. He loves to do it. He's a very calm horse. Custard was the same exact way. He's the spitting image of him. He's like his twin."
Teague, the 26-year-old son of George Teague Jr., has won numerous stakes races since Custard The Dragon in 2011, most notably with 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit. So while it is difficult to pick favorites, Custard The Dragon remains unique to Teague in certain ways.
"It's a little bit sentimental with Custard because he started me off, I think," Teague said. "He kind of had a different attitude than Wiggle's. Wiggle doesn't let you love on him like Custard would. Custard is still my man. I see a lot of him in (Henry The Dragon). Hopefully he can step up and be as good as his father."
Henry The Dragon, named after one of Teague's nephews, did not do much to impress Team Teague when he was training down as a 2-year-old, but that all changed once the racing season began. When Henry The Dragon won a division of the DSBF in 1:52.1 last November on the same night the Matron Stakes for 2-year-old male pacers was won by What's Goin On in 1:53, it confirmed to Teague that his colt could be a player in future open stakes.
"He could have won (the Matron) hands down easy," Teague said. "He still had the ear plugs in and was on idle.
"Training down he was just average. He didn't really stand out. When he got behind the gate he was a totally different horse. It was like the flip of a switch when he got into a race. He's a small horse, but he's all go. He never gets tired."
Henry The Dragon's only loss last year came in his last start of the season when he finished second to Bags To Riches in the $100,000 DSBF final at Dover. But Henry The Dragon impressed his connections enough to have them stake the colt to several open races this year, including the North America Cup and Messenger.
"When he was a 2-year-old I thought pretty highly of him because he kind of dominated the Delaware stakes," Teague said. "He got caught in the last final because he was sick. After every race I'd call Dad and say maybe we should stake this guy a little more because he's definitely shown up every time and shown he has some speed. We talked about it and we staked him up a little more. Not overly, but we're going to give him a chance anyway."
Henry The Dragon is not the only horse from the Teague Stable to open eyes in the DSBF this year. Daiymir, also named after one of Montrell's nephews, won his career debut last week with a 1:52.4 effort in the first round of the series. Daiymir and Henry The Dragon will meet in Thursday's first of four divisions.
"He seems like a pretty nice horse so far," Teague said about Daiymir, who was unraced at 2 because of soreness. "He's the same way as Henry; he's two fingers and loves what he does. I think he's got a little bit bigger brush than Henry. I think he could out-sprint him. He's pretty impressive. But Henry is a grinder; he can go nonstop. When he gets on the track he points his head to the front and he's ready to roll. I haven't seen the end of it yet.
"It's unfortunate they drew in together. I was hoping they wouldn't face each other until the final."
The $100,000 DSBF final is April 13.
Francis also sends out Whispering Witch, Rat Tail, Daylen, Stay In Your Place, and Ain't It Fun in Thursday's DSBF divisions. (HRC)