Missile J primed and ready for Levy final
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"He's a bit of a hothead," trainer Scott DiDomenico said. "Once you start him up, it's hard to throttle him back down."
DiDomenico took over training after the horse changed hands for $115,000 at the Meadowlands sale this past January.
This season's early results (in seven wins in nine starts) came on the hooves of a very poor end to 2016, when Missile J finished seventh in the final of the Empire Breeders (Tioga) and eighth (last) in the final of the New York Sire Stakes (here).
"We (along with co-owners John McGill and Brian Carsey) just wanted a good Yonkers Saturday night horse," DiDomenico said. "There was no thinking he'd be in the Levy.
"I knew he was a high-speed horse who could sprint and was raced hard. He seemed a bit tired at the end of last season, but the first few times we raced him this season (Meadowlands), he was so good that we decided to take a shot and nominate him."
In winning his first three series legs, Missile J rallied from sixth, fourth and sixth, snatching victories from venues not usually associated with Westchester win photos.
"He wants to chase horses, but even he surprised me a couple of times," DiDomenico—who added an open bridle to the horse's wardrobe--said. "What that allowed us to do was given him a week (round 4) off, and that was big. This is a grueling series, and not having to race every Saturday was a big plus.
"Also, having (Timmy) Tetrick each week has been great. The pair leave from post position No. 3 in the Levy. "I have one of the best drivers in the sport and I love the draw," DiDomenico said. "There's speed inside and outside and he (Tetrick) can just watch things unfold. Now, Missile J just has to execute."
For all of Tetrick's accomplishments, he has never won this race.