Knowing The Game Plan

Published: January 27, 2012 09:35 am EST

Research is a key component to yearling purchases. Having knowledge of how a yearling looks prior to sale time can pay off handsomely, possibly to the tune of a half-million dollar winning freshman


Trainer John Kopas has inspected his share of yearlings over the years. When the veteran horsemen traveled to Cool Creek Farm in the summer of 2010 to examine Kadabra colt The Game Plan, that road trip gave him the information he needed come sale time.

"He was a great looking colt, not a blemish on him when I saw him six or seven weeks before the sale," Kopas told Trot Insider. "At the sale he had some swelling in his right front ankle and that might be why people did not want him."

Kopas assessed the injury as minor and shelled out $20,000 to purchase the Kadabra-Image Control yearling, a half-brother to millionaire and O'Brien Award winner Pure Ivory. A stellar rookie reason would follow: eight wins and 11 top three finishes from 13 starts, more than $490,000 in earnings and an O'Brien Award nomnation. Aside from a seasoned trainer-driver combo with Kopas and Jack Moiseyev, what made the colt such a solid performer on the racetrack?

"His manners," noted Kopas. "He is a very well mannered horse and his gait is perfect, which is uncommon for a trotter."

While the colt minded his manners in his biggest test of the year, the $561,000 William Wellwood Memorial, his season ended with an uncharacteristic break in the $300,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final.

"He came out [of that race] fine, we have been jogging him every day since."

Physically, he added some height and now stands at "about 17 hands. He hasn't really changed at all mentally. He has been the perfect horse from Day One."

Kopas owns The Game Plan along with LLK Stable of Mississauga, Gary Grieve of Union and Anthony Wagner of Mississauga. Wagner was introduced to ownership through the SBOA program and was one of Kopas' owners with SBOA Mentoring Program selection Grin For Money, a Gold winner at two and now an Open class WEG circuit competitor.

"It’s wonderful that there are these organizations to get people involved," said Kopas. "It’s also easy to get a start when you have a horse like Grin For Money."

The game plan for The Game Plan at three is a blank slate, as Kopas stated he will let the colt dictate his own schedule. Given the trainer's record with the colt and trusting his instincts, that sounds like a solid game plan.

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