Katz hopes to wave Canada's flag in M Pace
July 16, 2015
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Owner Marvin Katz of Toronto said no one should count out his star colt Artspeak on Saturday night in the Meadowlands Pace, one of harness racing's classic races.
"He's a superb horse. He's nearly at $1 million already in earnings. He started the year off spectacularly,” Katz said Wednesday of the colt driven by Scott Zeron.
Artspeak, the fourth betting choice in the morning line at 6-1, is one of the few Ontario-connected horses to make the $706,000 final of the 39th edition of the race contested at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey (30-1 longshot Revenge Shark owned, in part, by Bradley Grant of Milton is the other).
"I would be happy to wave the flag on Saturday night,” Katz said. "It would make me very happy.”
In 2014, Artspeak was honored as the 2-year-old pacing colt of the year in both Canada and the United States after he won some $800,000 with eight wins in 10 races, including the $667,000 Metro Pace at Mohawk Racetrack and the $565,000 Governor's Cup at Woodbine.
Though, Meadowlands Pace favorite Wiggle It Jiggleit and Pepsi North America Cup champion Wakizashi Hanover—owned by a group of Maritimers—have proven to be slightly ahead of Artspeak this year, so far, Artspeak has been first or second five times out of seven starts and already has a 1:48.4 mile which means he can't be discounted in Saturday's big race, especially after drawing the three hole on the starting gate in the field of 10.
"He won in 1:48.4 in New Jersey and we thought we were good to go for Canada. When we shipped him to Canada, his blood work wasn't right. We almost scratched him from the (Pepsi North America Cup) eliminations. His blood work was really messed up when he arrived and he still was just beaten by Wakizashi Hanover. He raced really big, but I think (the sickness) bit him. Then we drew the 10-hole (for the final) and it was just a no-shot situation, absolutely no shot,” Katz said. "Then we went right to the (Max) Hempt (at Pocono) and he won his elimination and, again, he was spectacular. He had horses all over him and he just refused to lose. He was second in the final to Wiggle It Jiggleit, who on the day was a better horse.”
Artspeak was fourth in his Meadowlands Pace elimination last Saturday, but Katz said that doesn't bother him.
"I thought the Pace elim was decided at the half. Once they got to the half in :56, the race was over. It was an incredibly slow quarter and it became a sprint against horses of top caliber,” Katz said. "Scotty (Zeron) knew that he was going to make the final. Two horses passed him in the lane, but I think it was just not his best day.”
Katz, who owns Artspeak in partnership with George Segal's Brittany Farms, Joe Sbrocco and In The Gym Partners, said trainer Tony Alagna has tried to change Artspeak's routine this week. "He's giving him some easy time. He hasn't done a whole lot with him. Hopefully, that will freshen him up. Artspeak, on his best game is going to give any of them all they want and more,” Katz said.
The owner, who builds and manages high-end apartment buildings in Toronto, is racing a number of top young stakes horses Friday and Saturday at the Meadowlands, most of them trotters, including Hambletonian hopefuls Canepa Hanover, French Laundry and Livininthefastlane.
He said he would dearly love to win his third Meadowlands Pace. In 2013, Katz was part of a group that won with Alagna-trained star Captaintreacherous.
Eighteen years ago, Katz had what he calls one of his greatest victories in the sport when a colt named Dream Away won the $1 million Meadowlands Pace for him and his longtime ownership partners Sam Goldband and Al Libfeld. In the winner's circle, the Canadians exhibited tremendous emotion.
"It's still a very vivid memory to me,” Katz said. "It is, without question, one of the highlights of everything we've done in the business. It was the first really big one we enjoyed. It was exhilarating. The race, the experience of it and even the after experience. At the time ESPN carried the race. I had people for about a year, perhaps even longer, coming up to me in airports and commenting that they saw me and mentioned the jubilation that we experienced.
"We were over the moon.” (Ontario Horse Racing)