Blindswitch Racing has top starters at Yonkers
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"The first horse we claimed was Pan From Nantucket," Litvinsky said. "He was so good. From there, it was BJ's Guy. It was just lucky claims one after the other. Then RU Ready To Rock and Rock To Glory. Those were the core that kind of grew the stable. They were super horses. We've just been lucky with the claims and the right horses."
After achieving success in the claiming game, Litvinsky turned his attention to importing horses from Australia and New Zealand. He realized an average horse Down Under could be a good horse in the United States and a top horse from the Southern Hemisphere could be superior when brought stateside.
"I think we started maybe three years ago with the Australian horses. I deal with an agent that kept calling us and saying, ‘Hey, you've got to get this horse.' They were cheaper back then. They were cheaper than they are now because now everybody's doing it," Litvinsky explained. "The horses that came over here, they were just average horses there, average to below average. Some of these horses are bleeders and a little bit of Lasix really freshens them up and obviously, they can breathe. We said, 'Let's get some of the better horses there and they can be something really special here.'"
Betabcool N was one of those top horses Blindswitch imported. Purchased last year, the daughter of Bettor's Delight was a 19-time winner from 84 starts in Australia, including wins in two Group 3 stakes, the Cinderella Stakes and the Norms Daughter Stakes. She began racing in North America last February and has posted seven victories and earned $221,500 since. Despite her success, Betabcool N was originally overshadowed by stablemate Quick Draft A.
"We got her around the same time as Quick Draft," Litvinsky said. "Quick Draft was actually the more classy horse coming over here; she was supposed to be the real deal, but as soon as we trained them together the first time, we just all knew that Betabcool was going to be the tougher horse, the better horse. She's a really gutsy horse."
To start her 2018 campaign, Betabcool N posted a neck victory in a $20,000 overnight at Yonkers Jan. 12 with Jason Bartlett in the sulky. She finished third in her next start Jan. 26 before scoring a nose win over Regil Elektra at the same level Feb. 2 after starting from post seven and racing 8-3/4 lengths behind early.
"Betabcool, we gave a month off to freshen up. She had a big season, so we turned her out a little early and she's come back really, really strong. She's super sharp right now," Litvinsky said.
Betabcool N's impressive races justified moving up to the Filly and Mare Open this week, where she'll meet last week's winner Sell A Bit N, Motu Moonbeam N, who won at this level two weeks ago, and fellow class-jumper Cousin Mary. Juxta Cowgirl, Jag Out, and Annabeth complete the field. Betabcool N will start from post three.
"She got Bartlett, which is obviously a big bonus," Litvinsky said. "She's definitely better from off the pace. I'm hoping there's little action up front and she gets away third and comes first-over, comes home late. She's a different horse up front. She likes to chase for sure."
While Betabcool N came from overseas, Blindswitch obtained Don'tcallmefrancis by more traditional means. Litvinsky acquired the Rocknroll Hanover gelding for $55,000 at the 2017 Meadowlands Winter Sale, seeing potential in the 2016 Anthony Abbatiello Classic winner to become a talented older horse.
"He had an amazing 3-year-old season, made $150,000, beat some nice horses," he said. "When we first got him, he was really good, then he started tailing off a little bit, he was tying up, so it took a little while to get him back to where he was at three."
Don'tcallmefrancis won six of 37 starts last year, good for $74,770, but the 5-year-old is off to a faster start this year. He won four races in a row, including two for a $50,000 tag at Yonkers in January, before taking on Open company last week. Much to Litvinsky's surprise, Don'tcallmerancis finished second by a nose.
"I didn't expect him to finish first or second last weekend," he admitted. "There are some nice horses in the Open, it's a big step up from a 50 claimer. When the horse is sharp, I guess he can beat anybody."
Saturday night, Don'tcallmefrancis will start from post three with Greg Merton in the bike and will face seven rivals, including Killer Martini, a 7-1 winner of the Open last week; Orillia Joe, who strung together three straight wins in January; and Dream Out Loud N, who finished third in his last two Open tries. All Down The Line, Gokudo Hanover, Thisjetsabookin, and Soto complete the lineup.
"If he gets a good trip, he can definitely win. I don't think he's going to win first-over, but if he gets the right trip, he can definitely catch them. It's a very classy field."