Bob Tambur enjoys watching his horses compete, but even more than that he delights in simply watching them grow up.
"I just have a love for raising these horses; I get a big kick out of it," said Tambur, a northeast Pennsylvania resident whose homebred Boogie Shuffle races out of the training stable of Mark Harder in Saturday's (Oct. 1) first of five Bluegrass Stakes divisions for 2-year-old male pacers at Lexington's Red Mile.
"I tell Mark all the time, I get as big a kick out of breeding these horses as I do watching them race. I get a kick out of seeing how they turn out. It's more special when they do well, but I'm just so happy to be competitive."
Boogie Shuffle has been competitive for Tambur's Fox Hollow Farm, with a total of six on-the-board finishes in eight starts and earnings of $72,633. He has one win and four second-place finishes, with three of the runner-up efforts coming on the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes circuit to Huntsville, Downbytheseaside, and Fear The Dragon.
Huntsville went on to win the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, with Downbytheseaside second and Fear The Dragon third. Those three horses also are among the four fastest 2-year-old male pacers of the season; the other is Ocean Colony.
Boogie Shuffle and driver Scott Zeron will see Huntsville, Fear The Dragon, and Ocean Colony in their seven-horse Bluegrass division Saturday. Huntsville, from the Ray Schnittker Stable, is the 2-1 morning line favorite while Boogie Shuffle is 6-1. The division features five horses with at least $69,000 in purses; no other division has more than two.
"If you want to be a top horse you've got to race with the top horses," Tambur said about Boogie Shuffle's difficult draw. "There are no breathers, not in today's world. I'd like to win them all, but that's not how it goes."
Tambur, whose business ventures include a financial company and real estate development, got started in harness racing a little more than 20 years ago and enjoyed success in the mid-1990s with stakes-winning female pacer Sweetgeorgiabrown. Other notable horses have included stakes-winner Sutter Hanover (in partnership) and hard-knocking homebred Bullet Bob, who has earned $359,095.
Boogie Shuffle is a son of stallion Well Said out of Tambur's mare Ciela Hanover. Boogie Shuffle's 3-year-old full brother Senator Charlie has earned $77,690 for Fox Hollow Farm and a Well Said-Ciela Hanover yearling named Kaboom Pow will soon start preparing for his racing career. Ciela Hanover this year produced a Sweet Lou-sired filly named Sweet Anna Banana.
"I have high hopes for the two on the ground, the filly and the colt," Tambur said. "The brother to Boogie is bigger at this stage. He's a good-looking colt. We hope he does well. We hope he's got the speed and the desire Boogie has. It's all about the heart."
Tambur thought highly of Boogie Shuffle from the time he was born.
"I saw that horse an hour after he was born and he was standing up and he was so correct," Tambur said. "From day one, he looked fabulous; from hour one. I always felt because of how correct he was that he was going to be a well-gaited horse."
Boogie Shuffle heads to the Bluegrass off a fourth-place finish in a division of the Liberty Bell Series in which he encountered traffic trouble in the stretch.
The colt's remaining stakes schedule includes the International Stallion, Breeders Crown, and Matron.
"We're hopeful, but we know the competition is keen," Tambur said. "He is getting stronger and he's grown a little bit. We just hope he continues to get faster and get better. He's got a good motor, and he's got a good heart, so we'll see what happens. Hopefully he continues to do well."
The favorites in the remaining four Bluegrass divisions for 2-year-old male pacers are, in race order, Erv Miller's R J P, Jimmy Takter's Blood Line, Brian Brown's Downbytheseaside, and Ron Burke's Miso Fast. There also are four divisions of the Bluegrass Stakes for 2-year-old female pacers, headlined by Takter's She's A Great Lady champion Idyllic Beach.--By Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications