Pappy Go Go ready for big test
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After spending the early part of his racing career as a big fish in a small pond, Pappy Go Go is ready to head into open waters.
Pappy Go Go, a 5-year-old gelding who dominated in the Canadian Maritimes before arriving in the U.S. in 2018, will compete in Saturday’s first round of the Great Northeast Open Series for trotters at Harrah’s Philadelphia. The Andrew Harris trainee is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in the race, which also includes 2018 Canadian Trotting Classic winner Crystal Fashion (7-2) and millionaire Melady’s Monet (4-1).
A week ago, Pappy Go Go and driver George Napolitano Jr. won a conditioned race at Philly by 6 3/4 lengths in 1:52. The time equaled his career best, first established in a conditioned start on March 30 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and is the second fastest trotting time of the season.
Now he will go for the most lucrative purse of his career — $30,000 — on Saturday.
“I’m in the same boat as everybody else; I don’t know if he can go with these horses or not,” Harris said. “I’m anticipating the race as much as anyone. I want to see what he is, see what he’s got. I’m excited to see if he can handle it.”
Pappy Go Go is a son of Tad The Stud out of Paging Willy. He was bred by Calgary’s Bill Andrew, a recent inductee into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame whose family has long been involved in harness racing in the Maritimes.
As a 3-year-old Pappy Go Go was 13-for-13 racing in the Maritimes, where he won a total of 19 of 24 starts in his career. In January 2018, he sold for $30,000 to Michael Goldberg’s Chai-Five Racing and now competes for Michael Goldberg Racing LLC.
Goldberg gave Harris credit for picking out the horse.
“He was a proven winner,” Goldberg said. “He didn’t have the competition he has today, but he had beaten everything he had taken on before, and we liked the look of the horse.
“We love the horse,” he continued. “He behaves well, he’s great to be around, and he continues to improve. This is going to be a big test for him, this is the deepest competition he’s faced, but he’s got two (1):52 miles this year and is sharp. We’re excited about the race. We’re going to see what we have the next couple weeks.”
Goldberg, a psychologist who splits his time between Florida and his native Massachusetts, got started in harness racing in 1992 when he bought into a $2,500 claimer at Foxboro Raceway. His father and brother also got involved in the sport and were co-owners of 2004 Cutler Memorial winner War Paint.
“I took a little hiatus when I got married and had kids, but got back into it a few years ago,” said Goldberg, who also has gotten involved in breeding and attaches the Boston-reference “Beantown” as a prefix to his horse’s names.
Pappy Go Go has won nine of 40 races for Goldberg and Harris, earning $109,273. He has hit the board in seven consecutive starts, winning two and finished second on four occasions.
“He was kind of in a rough spot last year as a 4-year-old racing aged horses, and he was also racing (a different level) of horses,” Harris said. “It was just kind of a maturation process for him. Now he’s developed into a nice horse. He had a few little issues last year with steering and now this year, I can’t even tell you why, he’s steering so much better.”
Harris was attracted to Pappy Go Go because of his ability to win races. He hopes to see it continue.
“I love a horse that loves to win,” Harris said. “I don’t care where you’re at, when you’re winning dominantly and you’re the big fish in your small pond, there is always that chance to step up to the next level. He was worth the gamble just because of his winning nature.”
Saturday’s card at Philly also includes the $30,000 first round of the Great Northeast Open Series for female pacers. Harris’ Dont Think Twice A, co-owned by Goldberg, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the race, which also includes returning Dan Patch Award winner Kissin In The Sand for her debut at age 4. (Ken Weingartner/USTA)