Green Day gearing up for Su Mac Lad
April 17, 2008
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Jim Raymer is gearing up Green Day for his first big performance of the season in the $50,000 Su Mac Lad on Friday night at the Meadowlands, and Raymer knows he\'ll have to step up as he\'ll be facing his toughest test so. The lone 4-year-old in the field, he is rated at 10-1 from the rail in Friday’s sixth race. His competition includes world record holder Giant Diablo, Swan Image, American Lane and Brunton Tilly.
“He’s probably going to have to have somebody else do the work for him on the mile track,” Raymer said. “He tends to get a little weak on the end of it. The night he won last year at the Meadowlands in the sire stakes, he sat a two-hole trip. He’s probably better that way. In the first heat of the Kentucky Futurity, he cut it and was run at by a longshot. If he gets covered up, he can explode the last eighth.\"
Green Day was a $6,000 bargain yearling that earned more than $700,000 in 2007, while racing in a division dominated by Horse of the Year Donato Hanover. The son of Enjoy Lavec had piqued Raymer’s interest at the 2005 Lexington Sale. Two years earlier, Raymer had been the under bidder on a similarly bred colt, Magic Swan, who went on to bank $435,000 in his career.
“We were actually looking for a filly,” Raymer recalled. “He was the same cross as Magic Swan, an Enjoy Lavec out of a Lindy Lane mare. I thought I’d have a look at him and we liked what we saw. They were trying to run him to at least $10,000, but I got him for only $6,000. Why did he go so cheap? Maybe it’s because people were jumping off Enjoy Lavec.”
Green Day showed promise at two, scoring a win and two seconds in New Jersey Sire Stakes competition at Freehold. After a long break between seasons, Green Day kicked off his 3-year-old campaign last April and moved full steam ahead. He won seven of his first 13 starts, including the $338,000 Nevele Pride Final at Monticello and a New Jersey Sire Stakes leg at the Meadowlands. Recognizing Green Day’s affinity for the smaller track, Raymer paid $60,000 to supplement him to the $644,770 Yonkers Trot. That decision proved to be another shrewd investment as Green Day wired the field in 1:56, trouncing the heavy favorite, Hambletonian runner-up Adrian Chip, in the process.
“Winning the Yonkers trot was exciting and he just rolled into it,” he said. “He was obviously so handy on a half-mile track. What a season he had. After finishing third in the Kentucky Futurity and two heats [in October 2007], he came back only six days later to set a world record of 1:55 in a division of the Galt at Maywood Park.”
Green Day completed his sophomore campaign with 12 wins. He finished third or better in 19 of 22 starts and set a mark of 1:54.1 at the Meadowlands. Raymer sent Green Day back to the Meadowlands for his 2008 debut on March 21. Although the gelding finished tenth, he was beaten only 5 ¾ lengths and was clocked in 1:56.1. The following week, he finished eighth, but again was only four lengths behind the winner with a 1:55.1 clocking.
He continued to show improvement with a third-place finish in the $85,000 Classic Series on April 7 at Dover.
“He’s come back good this year and just finished third in Classic Series at Dover Downs,” said Raymer. “Tim Tetrick hadn’t driven him before and I told him he can get off the gate good. He got hung to the quarter in :26.3, and then pulled first up and didn’t expect Enough Talk to keep going. That’s the way Green Day is though. He’s a tough horse.”
Raymer is a trotting specialist who almost exclusively races for himself. His nom de course is Trillium Racing Stables. The 55-year-old Ontario native is based near Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania. Green Day propelled Raymer to a career season in 2007 with 47 races and $1.3 million in purses won.
“I’m stabled at Sam Beegle’s Ginger Tree Farms in New Holland (Pa.),” he said. “We also have a farm up in Ontario just north of Woodbine. We started coming down here about eight years ago.
“The big thing about our success is we only train for ourselves,” he continued. “I learned that was the key a long time ago. One client I have, Steve Organ, has been with me for 29 years. Other than him, I don’t train for a lot of other people, and I only have trotters.”
Raymer is partial to SJ’s Photo, who sired some of his best trotters over the years including Scully FBI ($522,369), Instant Photo ($230,247), Rickie ($324,367 before getting claimed last January) and Godess Of Chaos ($341,162).
“SJ’s Photo and Enjoy Lavec both left [stud duty] so I’m running out of sires to pick from,” he lamented.
In addition to being an avid student of trotting pedigrees, Raymer firmly believes that shoeing is the single most important element in creating a top trotter.
“Obviously, making them go fast is the key and shoeing is what it comes down to,” he said. “I originally got into the shoeing aspect because I simply couldn’t afford to pay a blacksmith. Now I shoe all of my own. I’m trying to get the most out them by facilitating it so they can employ their best gait. Pay attention to short toes and low angles, and they’ll be as fast and sound as you can get them. The first thing that hits the track is the foot so if you can get that right, they should stay sound.
“I put my homework in on the training track without using any other fancy equipment,” he continued. “The breed has gotten to the point where they are exceptional. You can almost see a yearling now with bare feet run off in 35 seconds. I’ve got babies now that train like horses getting ready to qualify in June. They’re like thoroughbreds. They’ve already got their speed and gait. It’s just a matter of getting them in condition to see what you’ve got. Once in awhile I’ll jump in the bike to see where their trouble is or where their conditioning level is.”
In addition to Green Day, Raymer will send out two of his other trotters on Friday night. Righthru Thetunnel will race with a $45,000 claiming tag in the third race, while Focus faces a tougher field in the eighth, a conditioned race. Righthru Thetunnel was another of Raymer’s bargain purchases who has won more than $100,000.
“We bought Righthru Thetunnel at Harrisburg last fall and we were lucky to get her for just $10,000,” he said. “She showed one mile in around 1:55 in Chicago [at Balmoral Park] and a bunch in 1:57 and 1:58. She looked like she belonged in a $15,000 claimer. She’s really come around this season and she’s just a really honest mare. We tried to find the right spot for her and that’s how we ended up where we are now. She won a couple of races at Chester before she came to the Meadowlands and she got her confidence level up after having sore back feet all winter. As the weather has gotten better, she’s improved. Tim Tetrick has a lot to do with her success. She’s three-for-three with him driving. My son, Tyler co-owns her. He’s training at a 30-acre farm we bought in February near the Poconos in the town of Tamaque.”
While Righthru Thetunnel has been an overachiever, Focus presented more of a challenge for Raymer.
“Focus is our problem child,” he noted. “We bred and raised him. We also raced his mother and grandmother. He’s always had speed and ability. I thought he’d easily make $100,000 as a 3-year-old. I thought Focus was twice the horse Instant Photo is. Instant Photo [who will race in next Wednesday’s $44,000 Father Foley] is the one with $230,247 on his card and he was a $4,000 yearling the Meadowlands Tattersalls Sale.
“Focus has won a couple recently and, the silly thing is, it was his hopples that were too loose,” he continued. “Last fall, I tightened them up and the rest is history. He’s always been a fast horse, yet the mile the other night [a lifetime best of 1:53.2] was probably a little faster than I expected. He loves to show he’s a racehorse. It’s the Balanced Image on the dam’s side coming out of him. I always thought that was a good cross with SJ’s Photo that could produce a Hambletonian winner, and look at Arch Madness now.” (Meadowlands)