Wakizashi Hanover could be lucky strike for owner
« Return to News
Wakizashi Hanover, trained by Jim King Jr. and Joann Looney-King, won his first start this year in a conditioned race at Harrah's Philadelphia and is now getting ready for a $32,000 division of the Pennsylvania All Stars on Saturday at Pocono Downs. Jim Morrill Jr. will drive the gelding, who is 5-1 on the morning line. The Ron Burke-trained entry of Yankee Bounty, the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champ, and Rich Wisdom is the 2-1 choice.
"We had a great year with him last year,” Kennedy said about Wakizashi Hanover. "He was very consistent for us.
"He's fully loaded this year (for stakes races). We didn't load him up last year because we didn't have any idea that he would be a good horse. We thought he might be OK, we thought he would make the races, but had no dreams of getting in the top crowd. So we decided to take his (2014) earnings and reinvest in him.”
Wakizashi Hanover is eligible to a number of major stakes, including the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Battle of the Brandywine and Max C. Hempt Memorial.
A son of Dragon Again out of the mare Western Gesture, Wakizashi Hanover was purchased for $23,000 at the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale. He is a full brother to female pacer Sand Gesture, who won a Matron Stakes elimination in 2010 and finished second in a number of stakes, and his family also includes stakes-winner Perfect Gesture.
"Wakizashi Hanover was one of probably 10 that we shopped down,” said Kennedy, who received assistance from Brent MacGrath of Somebeachsomewhere fame in finding the yearling. "We weren't looking for an expensive colt. We had four brand new owners out of our six people who were going to purchase him, so we were looking for something that was going to be reasonable.
"We liked a lot of things about him. His gait was good. He wasn't a blocky, bulky horse. He wasn't a flashy really extremely attractive horse, but he seemed to do everything right and he seemed to have his parts all in the right place.”
Wakizashi Hanover has spent his winters in Pinehurst, N.C., with trainer Gordon Corey. It was during a previous trip to Pinehurst several years ago that Kennedy met Jim King.
"We had a horse a few years ago that we sent down to Gordon for the winter,” Kennedy said. "We went down there and stayed three months with him and jogged and trained. Gordon always had horses for Jimmy King. When it came time to race, we liked what Jimmy was doing and we pushed that horse over to Jimmy to get ready. So it was an easy decision for us to go to Jimmy when we got Wakizashi Hanover.”
Kennedy owns Wakizashi Hanover with Percy Bonnell, Wayne Burley, David Bugden, David Chabassol, and Dr. Scott Bowen. Last year, Kennedy and some of his fellow owners made the lengthy trip from Nova Scotia to Pennsylvania on three occasions to watch Wakizashi Hanover race. Once, they flew to Philadelphia and back in the same day.
"That's commitment,” Kennedy said with a laugh. "But he was good enough for us to want to follow. This doesn't come along every year.”
As Kennedy, with his four decades of activity in the sport – ranging from training, driving and working in an administrative capacity – is well aware.
"It's really nice, for the other owners especially,” Kennedy said. "What a nice introduction to the industry when you can have a bit of a winner to start out with. They're very excited and I'm more than pleased with him. We're watching and hoping.” (HRC)