SBSW starter Lather Up wows connections
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Iles and his wife Barbara are longtime horse owners from Delaware. The couple is known for their homebred horses, which usually feature a name referencing Iles' former career as a barber.
Once on the racetrack last year at age 2, Lather Up won three times on the Ohio Sire Stakes circuit, but got sick as he was preparing for the series championship. He suffered a near-fatal reaction to antibiotics, which landed the horse in the New Bolton Center.
"He really got off to a rocky start," Iles said. "We came very close to losing him. We got lucky; very, very lucky."
Now, though, Lather Up's story involves winning races. The colt, from the Team Teague training stable of George Teague Jr., Brenda Teague and Clyde Francis, made his seasonal debut by beating older horses at Harrah's Philadelphia before a track-record 1:50 win in a division of the Ohio Sire Stakes at Miami Valley Raceway. The win at Miami Valley came on a sloppy track following a lengthy delay because of thunderstorms.
Last weekend at Woodbine Mohawk Park, Lather Up prepped for his upcoming stakes engagements by winning in 1:49.1 against older foes. Leaving from post nine, the colt and driver Montrell Teague reached the lead in a :26.1 opening quarter-mile and never looked back, winning by 7-3/4 lengths with a :26.2 final quarter-mile.
"He put in a heck of a mile," Iles said.
Lather Up always showed promise, but steering issues sometimes prevented the colt from peak performance. Teague thinks those issues have been resolved.
"He's much better now," Teague said. "I'm happy with that part. He seems to be controllable and very steerable. We made a couple equipment changes and got lucky and hit the target.
"We always thought he could be this kind of horse if everything went right, but it hasn't always gone right for him. He's a very smart horse, very good gaited. He's got the tools to do some damage in the 3-year-old ranks. He just needs a little luck and to stay sound and healthy."
On Saturday, Lather Up competes in the second of three Somebeachsomewhere Stakes divisions at Woodbine Mohawk Park. If all goes well, a trip to the Pepsi North America Cup eliminations will follow on June 9 at Mohawk. The C$1 million final is June 16.
"We're excited," said Iles, who lost his broodmare Pocket Comb -- the producer of eight six-figure earners in 10 foals -- last year at the age of 23. Lather Up was her final offspring.
"I'm anxious to see how he does. He's shown a lot of guts and I hope he can continue."
And so the story continues.
"To say the least," Teague said with a laugh, "it's been very interesting."--By Ken Weingartner/USTA