Hurley\'s has high hopes for
July 11, 2007
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As one of the top defense attorneys in the state of Delaware, Joe Hurley knows what it is like to win big, and it has put him in demand as a legal expert for such shows as Larry King Live, Good Morning America and the Today Show.
But Hurley has not had the same kind of luck under the bright lights of harness racing as he had before judges in the courtroom.
“Apparently, I\'ve had good breeding,” Hurley said of his success as a breeder. “But I\'ve had the worst racing luck in the world.”
That luck might be on the upswing heading into Saturday night’s $1 million Meadowlands Pace. Hurley, of Roll The Dice Stable, is the principal owner and breeder of Always A Virgin, the 9-5 morning line favorite. Always A Virgin will start from post three in the Meadowlands Pace, which is slated as race eight with an estimated post time of 10:19 p.m.
Hurley owns the horse in partnership with New Jerseyans Mitchel Skolnick [Bluewood Stable] and Marty Granoff [Val D’Or Farms].
“I figured Mitchel Skolnick\'s and Marty Granoff\'s good karma will offset my bad karma,” said Hurley, who got hooked on harness racing when he was still in college. “I was driving by Brandywine Raceway one night, saw the lights, went over and looked over the fence, saw these beautiful animals that fascinated me,” he recalled. “I paid the parking, went in, and won $17.20 on a two-dollar place bet and then I became an addict.”
While attending law school at Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pa., Hurley would frequent the since shuttered Liberty Bell Racetrack. After graduating law school in 1969, he claimed a horse in the early 1970s and his career as an owner-breeder was underway.
However, bad breaks haunted Hurley, and none were as evident as in 2000 with the horse Ain\'t No Stopn Him.
“He had set the track record as a 2-year-old in Delaware, Ohio,” Hurley said. “In the Meadowlands Pace, with John Campbell driving, the driver in front of him leans back and whacks my horse in the face, and he breaks stride in the final turn. John said he was going to win the race, and he ended up sixth. It wasn\'t intentional, he just leaned back and my horse was right there.
“He went on to the Breeders Crown and a hot dog wrapper hit him in the face or flew by him and he saw it, and went up in the air at the gate,” he added.
Hurley hopes to put those ghosts to rest with Always A Virgin, a son of Western Ideal out of the mare Neverhaveneverwill [hence, Always A Virgin\'s name].
“[Western Ideal] was beautiful,” Hurley said. “The first time I ever laid eyes on him, this guy just stood out. I thought, \'This is what a horse is supposed to look like.\' The mare hadn\'t produced anything really. I wasn\'t sure if I could get [a booking for] Western Ideal, but I was lucky.”
Hurley and trainer Joe Holloway brought Always A Virgin along slowly as a 2-year-old, with the idea that he would mature this year. In 10 starts last year he won three times, including a Governor’s Cup elim. In six starts this year he has three wins, including the $175,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes final.
“I haven\'t been around him enough to know what kind of horse he really is, except to know they can\'t keep him in the paddock,” Hurley said. “He has to go into an individual area because he gets excited and kicks and acts [poorly]. But I have to find out from Joe if he likes carrots. I might send him some gourmet carrots, or whatever he likes.”
Holloway predicted the elim victory, which Hurley was on hand to see.
“When Joe Holloway was saying we will win, that made me real nervous because there\'s always something out there that can screw something up,” Hurley said. “Joe\'s not one to do that, but he leaves it right on the line. Any time he says this is a fast horse, he\'s right on target. He had never said it to me before; that we\'ll win.”
And what does he say about the final?
“He says we\'ll win,” Hurley said. “He\'s going to eat a lot of crow if he\'s wrong.\" (Meadowlands press release)