Lonewolf Currier ready for Hempt elim
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From the number of phone calls trainer Kevin McDermott received following the Art Rooney Pace, one might have thought his horse, Lonewolf Currier, won the race. The colt finished second, but the way he did it got the attention of plenty of people.
Lonewolf Currier rallied from last place in the eight-horse field by making up eight lengths in the stretch before finishing just a half-length shy of winner Doctor Butch in 1:51.2. Lonewolf Currier's time of :26.1 for his final quarter-mile was the fastest last quarter in a mile race in Yonkers' history. "I probably got 40 phone calls after the race,” McDermott said. "Everyone said it was impossible for a horse to come home in :26.1 there; it's unheard of. He's just a very, very fast horse. That's what I thought from day one. I've been high on him all along.”
Lonewolf Currier has won three of six races this year, finished second twice, and earned $139,347 as he prepares for Saturday's start in the first of three eliminations for the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old pacers at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The 5-2 favorite on the morning line, Lonewolf Currier is coming off a 1:49.3 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes win on June 14 at Harrah's Philadelphia.
Last year, Lonewolf Currier won three races, including divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Pennsylvania All-Stars, but was limited to four starts because of shin woes. Some suggested surgery for the colt, but McDermott followed the advice of friend – and well-known New Jersey-based Thoroughbred trainer – Kelly Breen and simply gave the horse time off.
"Breen really helped me,” McDermott said. "He told me to just give him time and let him grow up. We never did anything to his shins and today you wouldn't know he had a problem with them.
"I brought him to the vet every 30 days to X-ray his shins; we weren't going to start back with him until they were 100 percent healed. There were times it was disappointing because he wasn't ready, but you wait on a horse like this and it's going to pay off. I put a lot of effort into this horse and I think it's going to pay off.”
Lonewolf Currier is owned by Francis Azur, who is best known for racing older horses such as millionaires Hypnotic Blue Chip, Noble Falcon and Blueridge Western. In fact, Lonewolf Currier is the only yearling ever purchased by Azur.
A son of stallion The Panderosa and mare Ladyking, Lonewolf Currier sold for $110,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale. He is a full-brother to Lookout Hanover, who was trained by McDermott when he set the then-world record of 1:49 for a 4-year-old stallion on a five-eighths-mile track in 2009.
"We went to look at (Lonewolf Currier) as a baby and he was just stunning,” McDermott said. "As a yearling, he looked like a 3-year-old; he was just a beautiful looking horse.
"I don't know if we'll ever buy another yearling, but we bought one and he might be the right one.”
McDermott said Azur's patience with Lonewolf Currier was essential in bringing back a healthy horse this season.
"Fran loves to race horses, but he said treat him like you own him and do the right thing,” McDermott said.
Lonewolf Currier's Hempt elimination includes stakes-winner Johny Rock, who is 3-1 on the morning line, and 7-2 Word Power, who was unraced at age 2 and is 3-for-3 this year after winning two legs of the Summer Survivor Series at the Meadowlands.
Brian Sears will drive Lonewolf Currier. He has been the horse's driver for each of his last three races.
"When we raced at Yonkers we drew outside, but it ended up being a great thing because we learned that he could race from behind and Brian loves the way he comes off a helmet,” McDermott said. "He's progressed. He was a nice horse and when Brian got on him and raced him from behind he's become a good horse.”
The third Hempt elim features North America Cup winner Captaintreacherous, who is the No. 1-ranked horse in harness racing's current Top 10 poll. Other hopefuls in that division include last year's Breeders Crown winner Rockin Amadeus as well as Vegas Vacation, who was undefeated in four races this season before finishing seventh in the North America Cup.
The top three finishers from each elimination advance to the $500,000 final on June 29 at Pocono Downs.
"We're going to learn what kind of horse he is as the year goes along,” McDermott said. "We know he's a very fast horse. When he has to look Captaintreacherous in the eye, or someone like that, we'll see what he is. Right now it's still a big question mark. But I wouldn't trade him for any horse.” (Harness Racing Communications)