Small horse has big job in Haughton Memorial
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It's the classic cliché of the size of heart making up for lack of physical size.
"It's all determination," King said. "It's his will to win, it is just something they're born with. He's the kind you dream of getting ahold of. No matter what I do he's going to try to make it right. He's just a good horse."
King refused to take much credit, saying there is nothing he can actually do to make up for the horse's diminutive stature.
"It's all about him, it's all about him," said King, repeating it to make sure there's no mistake. "We're trying to be as kind to him as we can because it's a disadvantage being his size. But his determination makes up for it."
Donttellmeagain will use that determination to try and meet the challenge of older horses in the Haughton Memorial. The race is an extra one-eighth of a mile, rather than the standard one-mile distance, due to a 12-horse field, which King feels is an advantage.
"I find that to his liking, I know he has the stamina," the trainer said. "But this time he's facing the older horses, like he was in the (Ben Franklin Pace) and that's a different ballgame. I don't think he's the caliber of a horse as (Franklin winner) McWicked, who's just so powerful and seems to get better with age. If we get lucky, we can probably follow him around the track."
King has been handling Donttellmeagain for Jon and Wendy Paton since he was a 2 year old. That year the owners decided to race him in the state-bred Pennsylvania Stallion Series while King had suggested he compete up a level in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. The horse won all four of his starts in the Stallion Series and, looking back, King admits it was the right move.
"I think it absolutely worked for the better," he said. "I thought he could go with (the Sire Stakes horses). I'm not sure he was as good as the very top ones, but I don't know that he wasn't either. But it ended up that he earned money, won races, and came back to be just a nicer horse, I think."
As a 3-year-old, Donttellmeagain placed in every start with eight wins, two seconds and four thirds for $169,738 in earnings. He was shut down after Sept. 17.
"That was our plan," King said. "He's very micro-managed. He's got issues so we picked the spots to go with him."
Whatever issues he has seem to be kept under control by the connections. Donttellmeagain is as placid off the track as he is ferocious on it.
"Any caretaker would like to take care of a horse like him, he's a real easy keeper," King said. "When you want him he comes to you all the time. He comes through the door all the time. He's not one to stay on the gate and command attention. He's just a real easy horse to be around."
And just as easy to cheer for those who love the little guy. (Rich Fisher/USTA)