Sometimes a horse will tell you all you need to know about him, and if you respond to what he’s saying, he’ll respond on the racetrack.
Trainer Bernell Rhone and owners Jerry Pint and Will Carlson will confirm that racing axiom.
They’ve tried several times to run back Heza Wild Guy sooner than he wants, and the results come up short of their expectations every time.
Take the Brooks Fields Stakes as an example. “We had run him two weeks earlier in an allowance race and he went off as the favorite in the Brooks Fields,”Rhone added. “But it had been only two weeks since he last race and he threw in a clunker.”
So, back to plan A, listening to the horse. Heza Wild Guy got a month off after the Brooks Fields and…voila.
“A month seems to be what he needs,” said Rhone. “We celebrated.”
Heza Wild Guy, an eight-year-old gelded son of Wild Event from the Sunny’s Halo mare Hebe’s Halo, won the $74,600 A.J. Foyt Stakes at Indiana Downs on Tuesday night by 2 1/2 lengths, increasing his career bankroll to $409,602.
“He’s a cash cow,” said Rhone.
The race was for Indiana-breds, and Heza Wild Guy covered the mile and 1/16 on the turf in 1:42.80 under Thomas Pompell.
“He just loves the turf and he shows up for every race,” Rhone added. “The only time he’s not in a race is when we run him back too soon or make some other trainer error.”
Consistency is Heza Wild Guy’s trademark. He has run 65 times and won 25 races.
“Yeah, and all but nine of those wins were for us after we claimed him,” said a jubilant Carlson.
Carlson says that Heza Wild Guy is a mean, aggressive horse. Rhone describes him differently. “He’s just hyper,” he said.
Hyper and smart.
“Yes, he is,” said Carlson. “He knows how to keep from hurting himself. He ran in the John Bullit Stakes on yielding turf and rather than hurt himself he didn’t dig in. He knew not to. We were a little miffed he didn’t win, but he was smart.”
Rhone and his wife, Cindy, and Carlson and Pint and their significant others made the trip to Indiana for the race, and once it was over, after picking up a check for $42,074, they celebrated the occasion.
“Oh, we celebrated all right,” said Carlson. “And somebody over-served me and Jerry.”
The money doesn’t seem to be an issue to Pint or Carlson.
“I’m happy to make the money,” said Carlson, “but it’s really not money in our pockets when it’s all divvied up. We put it back into the horses. It’s not the money, it’s the highs.”
Which is certainly the case for Pint. “When we have a horse running, I might get a couple of friends out to the track,” Carlson continued. “But Jerry, he comes up with family and friends from New Prague, about 15 of them all dressed out in their orange shirts.”
Heza Wild Guy wins for just about anyone who cares to listen to him.
Last summer, for instance: Trainer Justin Evans claimed the horse for $25,000 and won the first time he ran him back. Carlson and Pint weren’t happy losing their cash cow, however, and claimed him right back.
Next for Heza Wild Guy? Rhone doesn’t have a particular race in mind. “I might take him to Oklahoma (Remington Park) if there’s nothing here,” said Rhone. “He’ll go back to Hoosier in the middle of October for a $100,000 race he won there last year.”
If there is a down side to Tuesday’s big victory, it is this: Heza Wild Guy’s connections are listening to him very carefully right now and that means….
“He’s eligible for the Claiming Crown,” Rhone said, “but that’s in two weeks, so I guess we’ll have to pass.”
Anyone not signed up for the HBPA annual golf get-together on Monday can do so at the local office on the backside. The cost is $40 and includes golf, a golf cart and dinner at the club that night. The annual affair will begin at noon at the Shoreline Country Club in St. Peter.
“We always get a good turnout,” said HBPA president Tom Metzen. “Everybody gets something from the day. We’ll have all sorts of prizes.”