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Soderberg on how he fell for Western Vintage

July 10, 2013

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Western Vintage, unbeaten in his first two starts, headlines his New Jersey Sire Stakes Final, one of a quartet of $150,000 finals for two-year-olds on Saturday, July 13, 2013 at the Meadowlands.

Western Vintage has been installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite in the division for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings, carded as the fourth race. Driven by Yannick Gingras and trained by Nancy Johansson, the son of Western Ideal – Major Harmony has earned $22,250 in two starts for owner Perry Soderberg of Hightstown, NJ.

Soderberg, a bloodstock expert, found himself falling for the colt each time he saw him, but lacking any clients for the colt, he gave in and bought the pacer for himself.

"My job is to perform yearling scouting and recommendations for [Hall of Fame trainer] Jimmy Takter and his clients,” Soderberg explained. "I also do a lot of work for [Toronto-based owners] Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, and Brittany Farm. Some of the work that I do includes yearling inspections in the spring. That's when I saw Western Vintage at Brittany for the first time and gave him high scores. When I came back in the fall, to prepare for the sales, I liked him even more. He was a very nice colt on the floor, but when I saw him in the field, that's when I really got hooked on him.

”His video was also very good and being a Western Ideal out of a great family that I knew well (Vintage Master and Great Vintage both raced for Takter), made me like the colt even more,” he continued. "I recommended him to my clients, but they were not interested, mostly due to the New Jersey Sire Stakes program not being as lucrative as others. But also because most people were set on trying to buy Somebeachsomewhere yearlings and Well Said was new and interesting. My own clients have had a lot of luck with American Ideal and were looking for colts by him to race in New York and on the Grand Circuit.”

Soderberg, who has been evaluating horses for clients since 1986, was not in the market to buy a yearling for himself.

"I did not own any horses at the time but had a few ideas to buy a couple of race horses later in the fall to race at the Meadowlands during the winter,” Soderberg said. "But when this colt came into the ring, I kept an eye on him because I liked everything about him. They did not get a bid. He did have a scar on one of the hind ankles that probably scared people away, and he may have been just below average in height. I bid $3,000, and it was quiet, but then someone woke up and bid against, so I ended up paying $7 000 for him.”

Soderberg did not buy the colt to resell. He wanted to have a couple of horses to own, follow while they trained and raced, and just "have for fun.” His plan was to buy ready-to-race horses for whom there are no stakes payments, they race for good money and they race year round. Toward that end, he also bought Rocky Mountain Guy at the January mixed sale.

"But circumstances made me buy this horse - Western Vintage,” he noted.

For the Swedish-born Soderberg, these were the first pacers he had ever owned.

And now he needed a trainer to oversee the preparation of Western Vintage for his racing career.

"When I bought Western Vintage, I had no clue who would train him,” he recalled. "My longtime friend and business partner, Jimmy Takter, would be my first choice for most any horse, but his daughter Nancy Johansson texted me as soon as she saw that I had bought a yearling. She said that she wanted to train him, but she was just starting out on her own and did not even know where she would be training. So I turned him out for five weeks at Brittany [Farms] while Nancy worked on setting up shop.

"She chose Joie De Vie Farm in [Jobstown,] NJ, and I sent Western Vintage to her after the Harrisburg sale in November,” Soderberg said. "I have always had the highest respect for Nancy and her husband Marcus's skills and devotion. They have worked with the best horses in the world at Jimmy Takter's barn, they know what it takes and just like Jimmy, Nancy doesn't ever leave any stone unturned.

"I also enjoy a smaller barn for my own two horses since I can show up any time, see my horses, have lunch with the family and talk about most anything,” he explained. "It is just a pleasant experience to own horses like that. Nancy will soon move into a brand new barn with nice paddocks, and I am sure that she will be ready at the yearling sales this coming fall.

"They don't want to expand too much, so space will be limited,” he added, musing. "I hope they have room for another yearling from me as well.”

It is still early in the career of Western Vintage, and Soderberg, a former trainer, is cautiously optimistic. So far, the horse evaluator likes what he sees.

"Western Vintage is a medium sized horse with a lot of power and flawless gait,” he said. "Since day one, he has been talented and with a great attitude. What makes him really good, I think, is that he is complete. Not only has he high speed, he is strong and has not been tired a single time in his life, yet. There are many good horses out there, so we have to wait and see how it pans out, but I really like this colt.”

After the New Jersey Sire Stakes Final, Western Vintage will have a few weeks off before heading to Canada.

"He is staked to the big ones, this year and next,” said Soderberg. "We all need some luck!” (Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey)

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