Master Pine hoping to master the Big M
January 03, 2008
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Five-year-old trotter Master Pine has battled past gastric and respiratory ailments to become a contender in the open ranks and he returns to the Meadowlands in Friday night’s $46,500 fifth race, where he will try to prove to trainer Josh Green that he is ready to embark on a major stakes campaign.
Master Pine won nine races and $154,606 last season. Owned by Mark Moger of New Hope and Albert Della Jr. of Newtown, Pa., the consistent son of Master Lavec hit the board in 22 of 33 starts. He made several starts at the Meadowlands early last season, but was unable to pick up a check. However, he began to blossom during the summer under the care of principal trainer Dan Ater in Ohio and Jim Doherty in New Jersey.
Ater was racing the gelding on the smaller Ohio tracks last October when he approached Delaware-based Josh Green about racing the horse at Dover Downs, Harrah’s Chester and the Meadowlands.
“I ran into (Dan) at the sale in Lexington and he told me he had a trotter he wanted to send out here,” Green said. “We added Lasix and that really helped him. He also had a bad stomach and we’re very big on treating that. We use Gastro Guard.
“He has raced at the Meadowlands before and he’s just needed time to mature,” he continued. “We’re debating whether to put in some of the big stakes, but he might be a notch below that kind.”
Master Pine ships to the Meadowlands off a successful outing at Harrah’s Chester.
“He raced well in the Liberty Bell Series at Chester, winning three legs in a row,” Green noted. “He just missed in the final but got a tough trip. Jim Meittinis won it (with Opal Mine at 49-1). He was so excited and I was happy for him.”
Now stabled at Dovington Training Center in Fulton, Del., 33-year-old Josh Green grew up in a harness racing family in his native Ohio.
“My grandfather, Otis, worked for Gene Riegle, and my father, Gary, came up under Sam ‘Chip’ Noble III,” he explained. “My dad then had his own public stable based in Xenia, Ohio. He’s made me what we are today. He’s ‘The Man,’ basically.
“I came out to Delaware at the end of 2000 with seven horses,” he continued. “It was a few years after Dover Downs got slots. I was so broke and never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine we would do as well as we have. We just had an unbelievable year in 2007.
Green has won four of the last five training titles at Dover Downs, 10 of the last 11 at Harrington Raceway and he led the way through the inaugural season at Harrah\'s Chester. He had a career season in 2007 with 244 wins (eighth in the nation), a .429 in-the-money percentage and $3.6 million in purses.
“We run an excellent operation with my dad out here now, and three second trainers,” he said. “We have approximately 40 horses at the Dovington Training Center. We try to concentrate just on the Delaware circuit and Chester Downs. I haven’t taken a lot of horses up to the Meadowlands. I like to race there, but it’s a different ballgame. You need a special kind of horse. We are looking to branch out a bit, so who knows?
“We’re a big fish here in Delaware, but George Teague Jr. is the best in my opinion,” he added. “He and his sister, Brenda, work hard and deserve all their success. He’s a great horseman and he’s been good to me. We both use Dr. Ken Seeber to do our vet work and he’s very sharp. Our big thing is we like to turn them out in the field everyday.”
The young trainer scored the two biggest wins of his career in 2007 with Ghee’s House in the $350,900 Progress Pace and Big Business in the $236,726 in the Matron final.
“When Big Business won the Matron final, that’s the most excited I’ve ever been,” he said. “I really appreciated his owner, Larry Baron, taking a shot and putting his trust in me. Big Business is in the Aquarius Series (in February at the Meadowlands).\" (Meadowlands)